“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor…”
I’ve just spent a whole precious hour of early morning writing time typing a few words and deleting them. Type, delete. Type, delete. Nothing is coming out the way I want it to. These days, it seems the only time I can get any clarity on what I want to write about is when I’m outside walking. If I can get away for a walk by myself, without pushing the stroller and my two daughters, my brain starts clicking along and ideas come rapid fire.
It happened a few days ago. My husband got home early, so I escaped for a solo walk. I wasn’t too far down the street before I started seeing my story a little clearer. That’s the thing–I think I know what I want to write about–I even have some scenes worked out in my head–but as soon a I sit down to start writing, nothing works! If I could just hook a voice recorder up in my head to catch the brain waves, I’d have my novel written in just a few days worth of walks.
I’ve been reading through Bird by Bird again. Yesterday, I read about the sh*tty first drafts. (On a side note, I wrote “First Drafts are Sh*tty” at the top of the first page of the first novel I wrote.) This morning I read about perfectionism and how it keeps us writing in “tight, worried ways.” That so describes me. I write in worried ways–I worry that I don’t know the entire story yet. I worry that if I start this page in this way, what if I get to the next page and realize I should have started it a different way? I worry about a million different things related to the story, when what I should be doing is mindless writing–especially here at the beginning. After all, who knows where, in all that mindless writing, something great will come out and that’ll be the nugget that actually starts the story.
That’s much easier said than done though, especially for someone who likes structure and order. Messy bits of writing here and there, fits and starts, twenty opening paragraphs–that all makes me feel tight and worried.
Update on THE HIDEAWAY: You can’t be a real writer and not experience rejection, right? I have three rejections under my belt–one form rejection from my query, one nice rejection that came from a full request, and one extremely nice rejection (also from a full) that made me feel like the story had a chance. I have about 12 or 13 queries out there floating around in various agents’ email in-boxes. And one 50-page partial. I think I’ve decided to hold off on sending any more queries until more responses roll in. I wasn’t even going to send out this many–I was going to start with 6 or 8 then see how they responded to the query. The early 50-page partial and the full request from the one of my top-choice agents (that came less than 48 hours after I sent the query) told me at least my query was good, which gave me confidence to send it to more agents. But I think it’s time to hold off now. I feel antsy about it, but I just read yesterday that impatience is one of the biggest hindrances to a writer, and I think that goes for the querying process too.
Good writing vibes for everyone out there sitting in the same place as me, staring hard at the screen, trying to pull the words out of the air. May we all ditch the perfectionism and find the words, even if they’re imperfect.
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