Make it ugly. That’s one of the hardest things to do as a writer. Jeff Goins encourages us to start writing, and not worry what it looks like yet. Get it down, then fix it later.
“I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.” ~James Michener
When I was in high school, everything had to be in the perfect spot. I’d organize my closet by style and color, line my shoes up in perfect rows. Then my sister would come in and mess it all up. I’d get so mad. Of course, she thought I was crazy. For some reason, making things orderly made me feel as though I was doing something right.
As I began writing, I did the same thing to my words. I’d spend hours thinking up the right description or character. My heroine always have clever things to say, but never much to do. Years later, she was still telling me great lines, but there was no book.
I was getting nowhere, real slow. It was as if my high school english teacher was still screaming in my head. I had to find a way to turn the editor voice off.
Tell the English Teacher to Go Away (For Now)
I went to a workshop on creative writing and came away with an idea I’d learned years ago, but never put into practice. Freewriting.
It doesn’t matter what I write, as long as I put the words down. Giving myself a time minimum helps, say ten minutes. And the biggest challenge is not going back to change anything. Practicing these ideas every day helps me let go of the english teacher voice.
I’m not perfect at it, but that’s okay. Even as I am working on the rough draft of my new book, I find myself hitting the backspace key, my eyes drifting to a previous scene to fix. I still fight the temptation. It’s always there. But when I keep writing, letting my mind wander through new words, not worrying who will read them, I find freedom.
What ways do you struggle with writing ugly? Is there anything that has helped you with this?
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