Lately it feels like that’s what this current WIP is turning out to be. I wrote the other day about how I had my first good writing day in a while but something I didn’t quite clarify was that “good” wasn’t necessarily referring to the actual writing itself. Yes, I gained clarity and yes, the words were flowing but that didn’t mean they weren’t garbage. They were and they are and the more I write the more I dread revisions because this puppy is going to need a lot of work. But what I’ve come to realize in my quest to write a first draft without obsessing over every word is that it’s not the words that matter. What matters is the story. And not whether or not it’s good but whether or not it’s there.
Through five books I’ve been the type of writer who would rather sit and wait than type something that wasn’t just right. I would spend an hour on just one paragraph trying to capture the perfect mood and the perfect word and the perfect rhythm. But perfect takes patience. Perfect takes forever. And perfect is just not worth pursuing in a first draft.
So this time I decided to try something different. I realized that the block I’d been experiencing with my current WIP wasn’t caused by some spontaneous loss of creativity but by my ever-present quest for perfection and if I was going to get back on track then I had to give it up. And not half-heartedly and not just for a day but absolutely. I had to give myself permission to write something awful, something cliche, something amateur. I had to give myself permission to fail.
So I’m trying to do just that. I’m sitting down every day, being present and being brave and I’m writing. Without trying to go back and edit what I did the day before, without agonizing over every word, and without constantly feeling inadequate. It’s a huge challenge but it’s one that I’ve taken on because I truly feel like if I can conquer this I’ll have conquered so much more than just my inner editor. Because giving myself permission to fail creatively isn’t just about writing, it’s about life. It’s about life and it’s about me. About forgiving me and loving me and trusting me. Trusting that even if my first attempt at something isn’t stellar that I can be strong enough to start over and that I can be strong enough to keep starting over until it is. Because that’s what it takes to make things good, to do things right. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to finish.