Sometimes I feel like writing. Sometimes I don’t. But I’ve found that even when I don’t feel like writing, it helps to just write what I can–to write now. After all, unless I have to submit 500 words in the next hour, I can always come back to what I’ve written.
But, I haven’t always felt this way. I began writing at a very young age and often felt the need to ensure that every word was at its best as soon as it hit the page. Of course, this was obviously debilitating and senseless. After all, editing is a natural part of the writing process, and a finished story shouldn’t resemble hammered metal so much as sculpted wood, carefully hewn and chipped and sanded until it matches the image in the artist’s head.
But while I find that the slow approach leads to a more elegant story, it’s also extraordinarily difficult to attain. While I eventually learned the need for editing, it has never come easily. When I began my writing startup, I did quite well at placing words on a page and getting back to them, but I had a problem that continues to linger to this day: I still find myself regularly trying to edit during the rough draft stage.
Why I do that is even more difficult to understand. For the most part, it seems to be a matter of fear. I fear that I’ll forget to add something that needs to be in there. Or I fear that I’ll read through my story with blinders on and skip something that needs to change. Or I fear that a sloppier rough draft will make the editing process take even longer, thus delaying completion. But most of all, I fear that I’ll leave a part of my novel in bad shape when it comes time to print. After all, I reason, if I miss it now and miss it later, who’s to say that my editor will catch it?
Unfortunately, the solution is perhaps the most difficult part of the problem. I’ve found that to overcome my fear of editing–in order to get past my need to edit during the rough draft stage–I just have to let go and write in the moment. I have to stop caring about all of those fears. I have to stop caring about whether the book will even be any good. I have to embrace the fact that my rough draft will be crap, and it will take numerous iterations until I achieve something worth reading.
Not only does this help me overcome writer’s block, but I also find that it enriches my story. I find that taking this approach frees up my words, helps them to flow better, and helps them to live on their own. I find that it frees my words to be the best words they can be. If you’re anything like me, then this might help you to do the same.