So, I skipped my blog on Thursday and played Scrabble instead. My husband’s sister (Camm) and brother (Garth) are in town and she’s a Scrabble fiend.
Here’s the irony. I’m a professional writer and editor and I can only come up with words like aim, key, box, top, get. But because we play gals against guys, she’s the reason we win.
Sometimes I’ll look at my tray of letters and my mind draws a complete blank. I could have a seven-letter word worth an extra 50 points but my brain locks up and I fail to see what’s right there in front of me.
Occasionally, it’s like that when I work on my novel or other fiction. I’m staring, staring, staring at a paragraph. There’s got to be a better work for X, I think. I stare some more. Surely, it will come to me. BRAIN LOCK!
I tend to obsess over a sentence or a paragraph instead of getting that sh***y first draft on paper. In fact, I’ve gotten into the nasty habit of starting up my computer, opening the file and reading FROM THE BEGINNING before I start writing. Now, I start each new chapter in a different file so I’m not so tempted to obsess about what’s already been written.
Self-doubt, perfectionism, ego… all enemies of the sh***ty first draft. Come on! Let’s toughen up! Put those random thoughts down; don’t fret about complete sentences, perfect punctuation, stilted dialogue, purple prose and the occasional POV shift.
Author Natalie Goldberg writes about the editor/censor being stronger than the writer at times. Maybe a bit of compassion for ourselves could unlock the creative force that’s resisting the constraints we so often put on our writing.