Permission to fail. I’ve failed at a lot of things in my life, though I’d like you to believe I haven’t. Tests in college, performing the perfect flute solo. Oh yeah, and the one recital performance I forgot to show up for. (I hope my teacher’s not reading this.) And as a writer, where do I even begin?
How to Not Suck
At the DFW Writers Conference earlier this month, one class really stayed with me – the “How Not to Suck” panel, chaired by author A. Lee Martinez, super-agent Louise Fury and HarlequinTeen editor T.S. Ferguson.
Martinez said it best. “How not to suck? Well, you have to suck first. It’s okay.”
We laughed, but it was profound. As writers, we all battle the perfectionist beast, scratching at our door, some of us more than others.
When I stepped out on this journey to become a novelist nine years ago, I had these visions of words flowing from my pen. Brilliant and inspiring, of course. I’d sit down to write the pages of my future best-selling novel, but nothing. Utter garbage. That unfinished manuscript is decaying in a drawer somewhere.
Hours, months, years of working on it weren’t in vain. I had to work through it to grow and get better. Everyone has to go through failures in their art in order to produce the final product.
It’s called a rough draft for a reason.
Even the book I’ve finished and hope to have published one day took hundreds of hours of writing, rewriting, creating, drafting and editing. Each draft had failures. Ideas that didn’t make sense, corny dialogue, descriptions that didn’t pop. You name, it was there. Combing through, little by little, the failures were turned into victories, and the words came to life.
So don’t expect perfection as you flounder through your first draft. Let yourself explore the story. Let yourself fail. Sometimes, those really bad ideas spark the best plot twists or character lines. You never know until you write them down.
So, stop sucking. Kick the perfectionist beast out and start writing.