It sometimes takes a while for the topic of these posts to come to mind. This one had come from a seed of an idea that I had earlier in the week.
The seed wasn’t quite what I was looking for – although I didn’t know it at the time. Back on Tuesday, I was thinking, “Post idea. Awesome.”
So it took a bit of time to coalesce, but coalesce it did – while I was washing dishes on Saturday morning.
Sidebar: That housework? It’s not always procrastinating. Ok, A LOT of the time it totally is procrastinating, BUT whether it is or not, those semi-mindless tasks help ideas bubble up from the subconscious soup.
The idea that formed was to take a look at various pieces of writing “Advice/lore/rules” and examine what they mean to me.
The initial idea back on Tuesday was part of that, so I’m going to kick things off with the first half of:
“Write Without Fear – Edit Without Mercy.”
What do you think of when you read “Write without Fear?”
For me, this means a couple of things. I’ll start with the hardest for me.
Write without worrying about what other people might think about it.
This worry is at the heart of every time I’ve ever wondered if I was “Good Enough.”
Good Enough for whom?
I already know (and I hope that you do too) that I’m never going to please everybody with something I’ve written – no matter how good it is. The simple fact is that there are some folks who are going to bounce off what I’ve written. And this holds true for every story. And the real kicker is that just because someone dug (or bounced off of) the last story, there’s no guarantee that they’re going to dig (or bounce off of) the next one.
I can’t keep up with that. I know this, objectively, but the thought is there. “Write without Fear” by itself, is too simplistic. It doesn’t take into account the amount of work it takes to…Not “Get there” – because I don’t think that worry will ever go away. I base that statement on accounts from well established writers who mention that they worry about this sometimes.
But let’s call it the amount of work it takes to get past that point. And it does take work – and practice. Consider a guitar: six strings. That’s it. You can press them in specific combinations, strum or pick some of the strings or all of them. So pick up the guitar and play.
Ridiculous right? You’ve got to work at that. Practice that. Develop the skill. That’s what it takes to get to the point where you Write without Fear.
This next is no less work but, somehow, easier for me. It ties in with the earlier idea about writing things that are different from you, or that you don’t know much about. It fits in with “Write without Fear” Like this:
You’re going to have to write the thing eventually, so jump right on in.
We can’t know everything about everything, so there are going to be instances where you need to include something in your work that you don’t know much about at all.
Naturally, the first thing you’re going to want to do is research that thing. Check it out, get down and roll around in all that knowledge. Let it soak in.
But remember: No amount of research is going to get anything Actually Written. One day, you’re going to have to write the thing, and when you do, just write it.
Kinda like how you’re standing on the edge of a dock, above waters that you want to swim in, but you know are going to be cold in the beginning.
Best to jump right in and not prolong it.
Begin. That’s the hardest part, and once you’ve started, Write without Fear.
Note: This doesn’t mean that when you’re done, you won’t have to run that past some people who are actual experts. Write and accept that you’re going to get it wrong in some spots. And when folk point out where you got it wrong, you fix it.
It’s a process – one where you’re learning as you go – but you’ve got to kick it off by jumping into the work with both feet and getting down to it.
This too is a skill as much as it is grim determination to get past that first step – to leap off the dock. Dropping into the water is unavoidable once you’ve gone past that point – and you know that you’re going to have a good time swimming.
Thanks for reading.
Be safe out there. Be Excellent to Each other.
I’ll see you on Thursday.
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