Do you ever have those days where every word that passes your pen (or keys) is the most unpoetic, gelatinous heap of cliche’d garbage to curse a page? Well, if you used that description, you’re probably just hard on yourself. Ok, really hard on yourself. And believe it or not, this is an affliction that plagues even the most established of writers. People say that writers are conceited creatures, but we sure like to hate on our own craft.
I’ve known people who wouldn’t write another page until they had read over their previous one twenty times and had a beta reader edit it with a fat red marker. I’ve fallen into this trap many a times as well. I’d write one sentence, delete it, write another sentence, delete it, and so on until I had spent fifteen minutes staring at a blank page and cursing to the heavens about my ineptitude. The worst was when I was so stricken with inspiration, and knew exactly what I wanted to write about- but I would lie there like a dead fish, unable to recall how to function.
But, as author C.J. Cherryh says,
It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.
The key thing to remember when you write is to not look back. At least, not until you’re finished.
You may feel like every sentence is a struggle, that every word is choppy and unoriginal, that your very literary voice is flaking before your eyes. But no matter how cynical the storm seems, you must power on. Forget about the typos, the shaky dialogue and hokey metaphors. Don’t trouble your mind with stunted punctuation or minor plot holes. Just write.
Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.
– William Faulkner
When you’ve finished writing, take a step back. Walk away from the screen and busy yourself elsewhere. Take as long as you need. An hour. A day. A week. That way you can look upon your work with revitalized eyes, and a head clear of the biases that take root during the heat of writing. Then it’s finally time for the magic of editing.
Hey, no one ever said that writing was easy. From loathing the mocking glare of the blank page to blaming writer’s block on debilitating hand cramps, we suffer through a lot. But when all’s said and polished, the feeling you get from beholding your finished masterpiece is arguably the most irreplaceable in the world.