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July 8, 2012

Forget perfection. Just write!

I've had a longish break from writing, and it's taken me quite a while to get back into it. Weeks of frittering and time wasting and occasional opening of my document to fiddle with the scene summaries I've jotted down, but not actually do anything else.

I think this was partly because I'm at the beginning of a new book, and the task ahead seems so daunting.


But I finally worked out what the main problem was. I'd forgotten how to write a first draft! Forgotten that in its rawest form, writing can be piecemeal and messy; shorn of metaphors and similes, and full of clumsy verbs and poor phrasing and just plain bad writing.

If you give yourself permission to write really really badly - but force yourself to at least get something down - you'll often find that what you end up with isn't so bad after all. And of course once you've trapped those elusive words on paper (or on the screen) you can play around with them, embellish, refine...until they really do sing.

The paralysis of perfectionism is very real, and in its severest manifestations it can stop you getting anything done at all. So remember; start small. But start. And then continue, step by step, even if you can't always see the way ahead. Writing an novel is a big project, but it starts and finishes with a single step. Yes, there may be a heck of a lot of steps in between - but each one is certainly manageable on its own.

I'm working on a novel which will be about 100,000 words. And I've written four thousand now. (Yay, me!) So only 96,000 to go, right?

Have you ever finished a novel? If not, what's the biggest thing standing in your way at the moment?

And if you have finished a novel, what are some of the things you saw change between your first draft and final (polished) draft?


Charlotte said...

So apropos for me, as I start novel #2. The first time I pantsed it and this time I have a synopsis - and I can't get going. It's about four years since I wrote the first draft, so, as you say, it's probably because I've forgotten how to be that free.

The difference between my completed novel and its first draft was huge - only about three sentences remain in the final version!

So maybe I haven't started work yet, because I know how much work it is!!

Suze said...

A relatable post, Adina. Very well-articulated.

megan said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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erica and christy said...

I couldn't agree with you more! I'm having a hard time getting going lately too. Too much overthinking can kill the imagination...and who can write a novel without that! Let's just DO it! christy

Misha Gericke said...

Yes I finished three drafts, two of which were hand-written in pen so that I couldn't edit until they were done. :-D

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