We all strive to be perfectionists but when it comes to writing that’s the last thing you really should be.
I know what you’re thinking right now…is she crazy? Of course, we need to be perfect writers.
Yes, we do but sit in the chair and hit the keys with just perfection in mind and you’re not likely to write a single word.
I have to admit I’m a perfectionist at heart. My parents used to tell people how as a child everything I did had to be pure perfection or I’d think I’d failed.
And fail I did at my first attempts at trying to write a book. It wasn’t until I started to get published and began to teach other writers that I realized why I’d had so many false starts and half-finished stories.
What I’m really talking about our attempts at writing perfect first drafts. Every aspiring writer hopes they’ll read like a published book, but let me tell you from experience that’s just not going to happen.
In fact, it was my new hobby, watercolor painting, that got me thinking about this topic. I tried to paint some poppies (with perfection in mind), and it forced me to remember what my students feel when they sit down to write a story. It had been so long since I’d felt this way that it took this new hobby to bring it all back to me.
I sat with the brush in my hand, almost frozen because I was scared to make that first brushstroke. When I did I was self-critical. On the next stroke, I convinced myself this wasn’t for me but I kept trying and things went downhill fast. Wrong color…I’d never be as good as other people.
Does all this sound familiar? The frozen stance, the voice in your head telling you, you’re not as good as other people whether it be artists, painters, singers, chefs, whatever?
I remembered what it felt like when perfection gets in the way of what you truly want to do. Give yourself permission to be terrible, let yourself know that it’s okay to not be as good as other people, and feel free to cringe when you read back certain scenes. Everyone, even bestselling authors, started out as beginning writers who had to face their fears.
So next time you’re working on your story, take a deep breath, give yourself permission to be the worst writer in the world, know that failing is okay and perfection isn’t a requirement. I’m guessing you’ll take your writing up to a whole new level.
Do you have a writing question you’d like answered or what to see a specific topic covered in the Writer’s Room in 2018? Leave a comment and let me know.
Susan Palmquist is the author of 100 plus books including writing instruction, lifestyle, romances and mysteries. Under her pen name, Vanessa Devereaux, she writes erotic romances and erotica.
Since 2010 she’s been tutoring aspiring authors and offering workshops through various chapters of Romance Writers of America. She recently launched a mentoring/coaching service for both aspiring and established writers. You can learn more about Susan and her work at www.susanpalmquist.com www.vanessadevereaux.com and her writing blog at www.thiswriterslife.com
Contact Susan about her coaching/mentoring service at email@example.com