Category Archives: Writing

12Apr/10

Get the Horrible Out

Last night, at a write-in, I offered a piece of advice that made me stop and listen to myself. My fellow writer is 30 pages behind on her script, and really struggling to focus. At one point, in near despair, she cried out, “This is horrible!”

Trying to encourage her, I said, “You can do it. You just have to get the horrible out until the good stuff comes.”

Man, oh man. Is that tough or what? I think in any art, the practice seems so mundane.  It is so easy to lose sight of what is practice and what is refined art. In writing, it is incredibly difficult to write a rough draft and let it be rough. Most of us are also avid readers, inner editors who cringe at the sight of a misplaced modifier.

But that’s not the point. The point, especially in a contest like Script Frenzy, is to get the words written. To meet the page every single day, whether the writing is horrible or brilliant. To push ahead through the horrible until the tiny light of a beautiful story appears, and then to mold that draft – over and over – until it becomes brilliant.

The thing that scares me is that I know I have a lot of horrible in me. I also know there is a lot of good buried in there, under the horrible. Am I willing to put in the work, to get the horrible out in order to find the brilliant?

Do you have something you are shying away from, because you know your first attempts will be horrible? Go do it. Get it out today, and you’ll be that much closer to finding the brilliant.

10Apr/10

On Perfectionism

Everywhere I’ve been on the net lately, I’ve seen something about perfectionism. From my favorite finance blogs to the writing and homeschooling blogs. I think Someone up there is trying to get through to me. Last night, it finally sunk in.

All this fear talk is just another excuse. A way of avoiding the task at hand because I don’t want to fail. I don’t want to write something terrible. I want to write something great!

Hi, my name is Dream Collision, and I’m a Perfectionist. If I can’t do it “right” I can’t do it at all. I’m stuck on my script because I know the break into Act II should hit on page 25. My whole life is based on a complex set of rules designed to ensure that I do not fail. Which explains why my dog is my nemesis: I can’t control him.

Nor can I control that little thing called inspiration. But I can control how often I put in the work. So forget about finished projects and writing stuff people can read. For now, I’m just going to get to the page, every single day. Maybe for an hour. Maybe for 5 hours. But I’m going to be there, writing, no matter what comes out. Soon, I may call myself a reformed perfectionist. I hope that day comes quickly.

22Mar/10

On Discouragement

I felt discouraged today. I read through two weeks worth of blogs in my reader, saw all the lovely words that others had written, and said to myself, “I have nothing to offer.” I even saw a call for writers, but talked myself out of applying. I may talk myself into it later, if I find the courage.

I am easily intimidated by what others are doing. Others have more experience, more followers, more of a community already built around them. I am only beginning, and I’m like the shy kid who stands outside the circle wondering if someone will notice me and invite me in.

(By the way, this blog is more of a creative vent, a place to convince myself to do things I’m afraid to do. This is not my content. If you have happened upon this blog somehow, I admit I’m highly surprised.)

I am happy to say that, despite that discouraged feeling, I still wrote today, and I like what I wrote. I pushed through the fear of being irrelevant and did the task anyway, and just the act of doing was a great encouragement.

20Mar/10

Planting Seeds

Today is the first day of spring. Normally, I wouldn’t notice, but now I have children who get excited about these things. Where I live, there are still two months until last frost, but the kids were insistent that we plant *something* today.

So we made our little recycled newspaper pots, filled them with dirt, and then pushed tiny seeds into each one. For the next few weeks, we will water them and watch them for growth. We will probably cheer when we see the first sprouts poking up, and wonder why others aren’t making any movement at all. In about six weeks, we’ll transplant our strongest plants to the garden outside. A few months after that, if we’re lucky, we’ll get a fruitful harvest of eggplant and pumpkins and corn. Until then, the whole process is just a lot of waiting and hope. And weeding.

Of course, the whole process reminded me of writing. Learning and growing in the craft takes a long time. I might have an idea, and dream that it will come to fruition, but like some of our sprouts, it may grow quickly and then die. If my idea does grow, through proper care, then I will have to let it out into the big wide world before its growth is stunted. There, it may suffer various plights – pests, heat, drought, frost – in the form of critics and naysayers. But I will have to let it go if I want it to grow.

It’s possible that I simply enjoy the process of planting seeds, whether they live or die. However, I cannot dream of having a large harvest without putting both work and faith into the project.

And just because I killed every single transplant to our garden last year does not mean they will all necessarily die this year. I’m getting better at gardening. Can I also improve my writing?

18Mar/10

Finding My Voice

I sometimes fear that I have nothing unique to offer. How many people have been down this road before me, and how many of them are a thousand times more qualified than I am to write about this life? One of my greatest fears is being lost in the crowd. But another of my greatest fears is sticking out from the crowd. I can’t seem to decide from day-to-day which I would prefer.

Still, there is something nagging at me all the time.

“Write,” it says.

“About what?” I say.

“About anything,” it says, “just continue to write.”

So here I am. Writing for the sake of writing. Being creative for the sake of creativity. Hoping to burst in on some other dimension of living that will finally answer all my questions and make my life blindingly vivid. I know, somehow, that creativity is the key to piecing it all together. Of course, there is no left-brained answer to explain how or why. If I really want to find out, only my imagination can take me there. So I’m going.

When I get there, I may find that I am a clone, along with a million others, living the exact same life. It is more likely that I will discover, as I already know, that no one on earth has lived the precise combination of lives I have. Somewhere in here is a unique voice, a way of telling a story that no one else has heard before. I must find it, and let it out, even if it requires spewing out all the garbage piled on top of it first.