I was intrigued by this blog hop and by the assignment – speaking of one’s insecurities as a writer. When you think of it, there are many reasons to be insecure, most of them hinging on how or whether others like us. How do we stack up against the writing trends? How do we fit ‘the mold’? What if someone doesn’t like my work? What if it turns out that all this effort and angst has been for nothing?
I could address any one of these (and probably will in the future). For me today, though, I’d like to admit to the worst person that I have to stack up to.
The Danish philosopher and poet Piet Hein had a ‘Grook’ (poem) that went:
Owing to fear
Of what people will think.
There is an answer
People may think
What the devil they please!
But what if the person who is peering at your writing with an eye like an oyster and curling his or her lip with scorn at the ineptness of your writing is…yourself?
That is my problem. If I start to write something, I have to write it perfectly. I write a sentence, frown at it, say ‘That sounds dorky!’, backspace, and write it again. Over and over. The end result is perhaps a paragraph that’s OK but overworked. And nothing else. Well… Maybe a full browser history, since surfing the Web aids in making me think – right?
Well, I can’t just crank out awkward phrasing, can I? Well…can I?
The solution to this dilemma is to say ‘Why not?’ Just spit it out. I tried NaNoWriMo two years ago, just to see if it could be done. It could, but I had to just let go and let the words flow. Some of them were pretty bad – but once the thought was actually captured, it was a joy to tweak, especially after reading and reflecting.
I am working on that insecurity, but I have the answer. I just have to follow it. Turn off the internet connection and write.
Oh I so do that! Even after it's been proof-read and edited, I will still go back and change loads! In the end I have to almost sit on my hands to stop ;)Suzanne @ Suzannes-Tribe
I've found that shouting (in my head) 'It's FINISHED, you nitwit!' doesn't work. Nice to know I'm not alone!
Hi Diana,I am one of the co-hosts of the ISWG this month and want to welcome you to our group. It is a great place of support and comfort. I so relate to your post. I worry about what everyone thinks, not just about my writing, but about me in my life. With writing, though, the thing that helped me most with this issue is Anne Lamott's “Bird by Bird” in which she gives writers permission to write “shitty first drafts.” It's so true, there is always editing, which comes later. So now I just get the ideas out of my head and down on paper, shitty as they may be, and fix them later. Welcome and good luck!
welcome to the IWSG family. the best advice i ever heard for getting over the self-criticism: write like a first grader. i've tried it. sometimes it helps. other times, i need some other motivation, like what Karen told you about Anne Lamott. ***** first drafts.
You've got the answer, Diana. Turn off the internet and write. Let's face it, we don't do this writing thing because it's easy. It's who we are. Welcome to IWSG. I'm #121.
I bet your sentences are pretty darned clean to start with. You have a talent my friend. But it is quite liberating to the productivity to have PERMISSION to write crap that first time. It took me a while to get there–I had to learn what actual EDITING meant first, and I didn't do that until about my 5th book…
So true Diana! I constantly remind myself that if everyone liked what I wrote it would probably indicate nothing more than it was really, really bland and boring!
Hi, Karen – Thanks for coming by and making me grin with the notion of a 'shitty first draft'! It is rather liberating to reflect on, and once the 'first' fear is squared away, the fiddling starts!
…write like a first grader… I'll have to try it. “He sees her. She sees him. She yells at him. He says sorry. She smiles.” Not a bad way to block out a scene and jump right into the 'fiddling'.
Thank you for the welcome, Joylene. Someone (not a writer) was telling about expressing his confusion over what he was supposed to be doing (with his life). He didn't know which way to go, but thought he might want to teach. His mentor said, “Do what you must do, what you feel you have to do, what it will kill you NOT to do…”
Thanks for the lovely bouquet, Hart! It's so odd how we look over our own shoulders and think, “That's lousy!” when it's just a first draft, just blocking out. (No one said I was logical…)
I hadn't thought of it that way – something everyone loves is bland and boring (rather like marshmallow fluff?) Hm… I'll take the 'this ain't good' knocks!
I am guilty of the same problem, I want it to be perfect before I am finished writing each sentence and I edit and edit and edit and just can't seem to move on to the next until the last one is just right. It is a problem and takes up a lot of time that could be spent writing more and worrying less. I think the key is like everyone says, to worry less about it at first, just write and then you can go back later and edit.
You are DEFINITELY not alone. I am my worst critic.
This is precisely why I draft by hand. Helps me focus on the bigger picture until it's time to tweak. 🙂
I'm more of a get it right the first time kind of guy. I hate going back and re-working.
Everyone's got great advice, Diana. Nano was a breakthrough for me as well – that forced deadline of gettin' er done really helped. Good luck “gettin er done!”
exactly. mine went something like “He was mad. He was really mad. He wanted to hit someone.” it blossomed into an entire scene that i love.
Turning off that inner editor long enough to get a first draft written is difficult. I've managed to turn it down, but not off. :PWelcome to the group! :)August co-host and IWSG #110
Totally spaced out the blog hop due to new puppy! Boy. If I thought I didn't have time to write before… And no, you could not turn an awkward phrase if you tried. ~Just Jill
The self-critic is so often the toughest one! I enjoyed reading the poem.
I love the poem! So true – my life guiding principle.Have a nice weekend!
…and actually, I think I'm more clear-eyed after I move on, do other things, and then come back. (If I could only remember…)
Susan – Well, your critic is doing a good job, based on what I'm reading….
I read that the advent of typewriters (and other word processing systems) has taken all the lusciousness out of writing letters, since it took longer to dip your (quill) penn, giving you time to think and form your words. I may try a little hand-writing, speaking seriously…
You're Trapped! (But based on your blog, which I visited, it's working for you.)
Thank you, Cathy! NaNo was a real eye-opener! Now to remember…
Thanks for the welcome – I've enjoyed what I've read and learned, and saying 'Yeah, I do that!' (and I'll be reading more this weekend).
Oh, good lord! I am blushing now…
Piet Hein's work was short, sweet and delicious, and I loved it in college. Then, years later, I read about who he was and what he did. Very wise, amusing, and able to distill a great deal of wisdom into a quirdy rhyme.
Thank you so much for stopping by, Adriana! That poem made me think.Enjoy your weekend!
Thanks! I hope that it is.
Hello from the IWSG 🙂 I think a lot of writers have the moments when they must have every sentence perfect before they can carry on–I sure did for a long time. The I came across this quote: “Write the first draft with your heart. Write the second with your head.” So now I just plow my way through my first draft with the intention of perfecting later. Helps a lot because then I don't slow down during the writing process 🙂