When I started thinking about W, writing was the obvious choice but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say. So, I did what I always do when I have a topic but I can’t think of an approach – I started with the question ‘What do I want people to know about writing?’ Hence the extra-conversational tone here.
Well, first off , you get to write what you want to write. I can’t guarantee that you will sell what you write – there are a lot of forces at work there and a lot of them are beyond your control so you shouldn’t worry about them at first. Instead you need to only worry about what you want to say. In some ways this is the best stage of writing because it is all about you, you, you.
You can outline if you want. Some people like to make things up as they go and others like to have everything carefully planned out. I kind of like to go between the two. Sometimes the work of planning everything out is a bit too much for me. When that happens, I just need to get down to the actual work of putting the words on the screen and it doesn’t matter too much about what they actually are. When I’m in that mode then I just go with the words that come and I don’t worry what purpose they will serve.*
That being said, it is a lot easier for me to write (and write fast) when I have an outline written. I am still working on becoming a regular outliner.
When you get to the actual writing you have to remember to separate your writer self from the editor self. Your writer self needs all the freedom you can muster so you need to learn to shut down the editing voice while you start to write.
The ideas need room to spill out and room to grow, locking them into being perfect at the beginning is a good way to stop them from flowing at all.
If you were learning a new dance, you wouldn’t expect yourself to master it right away, you wouldn’t be hard on yourself for not getting it right the first time and you definitely wouldn’t tell yourself that you shouldn’t bother at all, would you? I didn’t think so.
When you tell yourself harsh things about a first draft of a new project you are essentially doing just that. You are saying that your very first try is not good enough. Maybe you talk to yourself like that but I try as hard as hell not to talk to myself that way. I want to still like me (and I am mostly successful).
So you need to remember that even though you have done other dances, and learned other steps, this is your first time with this particular choreography. So you need to have some patience and you need to get the mean old dance teacher to let you off the hook so you can do the steps in the way you need to without worrying about critique.
So turn off that editor, tell her that you value her opinion** but that it needs to come at the right time so you can make the best use of it and then park her ideas until you get to the seoncd draft. There is no point in being a jerk to yourself as you go along and ending up not writing anything at all because you couldn’t make it perfect.
The world would rather have your imperfect work than not have it at all. At least I would, and I am part of the world. I know you are probably discounting that statement right now but bear with me.
If I were telling you that your writing was terrible and that you should stop writing (which I definitely am NOT), you would more than likely believe it. Why would that be easier to accept than the idea that your work has value? Why not believe that you have something important to contribute? [SPOILER: You do.]
It’s silly how we do that though, isn’t it? We’ll believe the one negative voice. I think we need to consciously choose the positive and see where that takes us. And I am definitely a positive voice for you. I want you to try, I want you to get the most out of your writing as you can, I want you to be able to share your work with the world. There is someone out there that needs your words. I can’t promise you that writing and sharing it will happen without fear, but I can promise you that it will give you a lot of satisfaction.
So, please, choose the tools that you like and the words that you like and write the ideas that you like and share them in a way that makes you happy. Someone else may need the exact thing you are saying.
*When I am coaching, I take much more of a ‘feel okay with writing/get some ideas out there’ kind of approach rather than a ‘let’s get this project finished’ kind of approach. I worry a lot about people who feel too intimidated to write at all. I hate to think of people out there who won’t even get started because they are too scared or they think they can’t write or they don’t want to be criticized for their writing. That’s a major part of the audience that I try to reach with my coaching and my classes.
**Sometimes I keep a piece of paper near my computer and when an editorial comment pops into my brain I write it down and say ‘Thanks! Noted!’ so my inner editor feels appreciated. Yes, I am odd. 🙂