Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Dare To Write Crap

I hit a wall like I always do after I finish work on a big story. Most of us do hit walls and the reason is that we’re trying to write too well. After I complete a story, it’s in pretty good shape and usually much different than the sad looking first draft I had. Somehow my ego convinces me that I’m capable of cranking out this final draft quality all the time and when nothing that good comes to me I freeze up.
The ultimate goal at this point is to get something, anything onto paper. We have to have the guts as writers to put any garbage that comes to us on the page. Dare to write crap. It’s the only way around writer’s block. Write the silly things that you wanted to write about when you were a kid. Write the silly things that you want to write about as an adult but never dared. To drop all pretension, aim to make it the worst piece of writing you’ve ever done. Do this for as long as you have to in order to loosen up again. And some of the crap may actually turn out to be pretty good and worthy of a second draft. When we’re relaxed, good stuff sometimes leaks out without us realizing it. The words flow and the writing seems natural.
The very best book on this subject is If You Can Talk, You Can Write by Joel Saltzman. Read it, throw perfection out the window, and go write.
Finally, this: I had an art teacher way back in elementary school (Mrs. Hinchie, I think her name was) who told those of us who were complaining that we couldn’t think of anything to paint that the problem was not that we didn’t have any ideas. The problem was that we had too many ideas. Just pick one. You can get to all the others later.

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