Don't Give A Damn

Writing is a lot of ignoring everything else around you. You ignore the lure of the television, video games, and even time with friends or family for the chance to get those words down. That's a struggle but what tends to always freeze me is when I start caring way too much about what I'm writing. I can't progress the story because I'm hung up on what color my main character's eyes should be. When I start getting too caught up in the little details, I have to remind myself, all of this is going to change anyways. 

When you're first drafting, it's okay for the character to go from green to grey eyes in the span of a chapter. Stop giving so much of a damn about your words that you get paralyzed and write nothing. 

It's easy to feel like every detail and word you write is worth stressing over, but if you spend your entire life writing the same page over and over again then you've not really accomplished anything. If your goal is to get your words out into the world you have to stop giving so much of a damn about them and just worry about getting them done. It can be liberating to let go of the worry and just write. 

Lately I've gotten hung up on worrying about if what I'm writing will ever sell. What if no one wants to read this? What if no one cares? I worry and think about that so much I get nothing writte and instead I just circle the drain of self-pity and wallow in a gallon of ice cream. What I've had to remember is that while thinking about market and sales is important, you have to remember what you're passionate about and write that story. Sitting paralyzed because you're too concerned you're never going to sell anything doesn't help either. 

Maybe the market isn't supporting your paranormal romance right now but write it. If it doesn't sell, put it in a drawer and move on to the next project. Trying to write to the market is like letting a blind, drunk elephant guide you through the plains. You're going to end up lost in the grass and eaten. 

Writing's a strange mix between having to care deeply, and having to not care. There are points in the process where caring is more important, so here I'm talking specifically about getting down your first draft and organizing your thoughts. You need to let go of the idea of the perfect, just-right-for-the-market, flawless story that exists in your head and start writing it. There's no shame in writing an awful first draft and then taking the time to carve out the story in your mind, but without that first block of clay there's nothing to even sculpt.

That image of the story that exists in your head can never reach this world if you keep it locked up because you're too afraid to make it. 

The quote I've found that almost always keeps my butt into creating is the incredibly popular quote from Ira Glass on creativity: "Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

Starting out it's painful to realize that what you have in your head is not going to be as awesome as what you like, and what you see. You have to keep going, not give so much of a damn and get through all the crap to find the diamond buried in your own work.