As my friend and YA author, Linda Gerber, says on her blog this week – give yourself permission to write stuff that sucks. (Not a direct quote, but that was the gist of her message!)
Seriously. This is something I struggle with ALL THE TIME. I sit down to write – with very little, precious time available between work, kids’ sports, scrubbing toilets, feeding whatever children happen to be in my house at any given time, and cleaning up after a teenage dog and a geriatric cat – and I freeze.
I stare at my laptop. (First closed, then open but not on, then finally…booting up.) I run through an internal monolog that sounds something like this: “Time to write. TIME to WRITE. Ugh. Really? Maybe I should sweep the floor or wash something. NO! Write now! And it will be GOOD. It better be good. I don’t have time for it to suck. Who am I kidding? Of course it will suck! Why did I ever think I could/should/would be a writer anyway? IMPOSSIBLE! Even if it sucks…I need to write anyway…Good God! Why did I tell people I think I’m a writer?!? blah, blah, blah…”
Here is the cold hard truth: Writers write stuff that stinks. We all do. Some of us suck more than others…true. But all writers write that icky, flat, boring, ridiculous first draft. It isn’t the quality of the first draft that makes you a writer…it is the belief that no matter how it turns out, the act of putting words on the page, the faith that the story in your heard and your heart should be told, the certainty that you will keep writing no matter what – these are the things that make a writer.
So LET GO of that peevish inner critic who sits on your shoulder or on the arm of your favorite couch when you get out your laptop. Tell her to stuff a sock in it. Flick him off of his perch with a powerful wave of your pen. (It IS mightier than the sword, you know.)
Breathe deeply for a few minutes. Close your eyes. Sink into your story. Hear your characters’ voices and smell the road dust on their jackets. Taste the elderberry wine they drink and hear the bass line of their music. Then let your fingers do their work. Type or write…pound away or scrawl across the page.
And if it sucks…who cares? After all – you aren’t a writer until you actually WRITE something. Right?
Go on. You can do it. Believe. Carpe Keyboard, for heaven's sake.
Shoo. Go write.