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  • November 12th, 2008 | 7:27 PM
Wednesday writing tip

This week's writing tip is an oldie but goodie. 

I credit  Anne Lamott with introducing it to me though I expect writing teachers have been saying it to students for hundreds of years.

Don't be afraid to write crap.

That's it. That's really all we need to know about writing, especially when getting your feet wet for the first time or coming back to writing after being away for a while. Don't be afraid to write crap.

When we expect everything we write to come out ready for publication the fear of not living up to those expectations can keep us from getting those first words down on the page, those first few words that start the momentum of the story and keep us coming back to the page. Trust me, I know this to be a fact. I have written very little since Hugging the Rock. I can say it's because the day job was stressing me out or because of being laid off or because of worry about my kids or my health or money or because I got up on the wrong side of the bed.

But none of those is the real reason I'm not writing right now. The real reason I'm not writing right now is because I'm afraid to write crap.

It's as simple and as complicated as all that.

I was reminded of this recently when[info]hulabunny  got brave enough to ignore the worries swirling in her brain and just sat down and started writing. She was sure she was writing crap but dang it all, she was excited about writing crap.

She sent me a few chapters. And she kept on writing. Every night, after her young children went to bed, after taking care of her family and knowing that the alarm clock would be ringing way too early for her to have to get up and go to her very stressful day job. Night after night she keeps writing and I keep reading because I am totally hooked on her story, her first draft.

And you know what? It isn't crap at all. She's on her way to writing a dang fine novel. All because she wasn't afraid to write crap.

Way to go, Eileen!

(Tags: )
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.



Comments

( 11 comments — Leave comment )
kidlit_kim
November 13th, 2008 04:47 am (UTC)
Writing crap. Yep. I have this one mastered!
susanwrites
November 13th, 2008 04:52 am (UTC)
Good for you. I'm still trying to climb that mountain.
kidlit_kim
November 13th, 2008 04:58 am (UTC)
I know you said this doesn't work for you, but the thing that has really worked for me these last few months is meeting friends to write. We goof around, talk, write. Force each other to be quiet and write, goof around some more... I've been pleasantly surprised as I'm rewriting now to discover a lot of really good stuff mixed in with the crap! I think hanging out with friends just puts me in a better state of mind.
susanwrites
November 13th, 2008 05:09 am (UTC)
Well it didn't used to work for me but I need to try it again. First to find someone local who has the time to try it too.

Thanks!
meredith_wood
November 13th, 2008 03:35 pm (UTC)
Once upon a time, I remember how excited I was to write and even though I was sure it wasn't the best writing, it was mine and it was exciting! Somehow, from the millions of crits, how to books and lessons, agent responses and my own growth as a writer I lost that ability to enjoy my crap.

Thank you for reminding me where the fun starts with writing! :-)
susanwrites
November 14th, 2008 01:39 am (UTC)
I'm glad you are remembering the fun parts of writing. I seem to have misplaced mine. Sigh.
beckylevine
November 13th, 2008 03:52 pm (UTC)
It (almost) never is as crappy as we're afraid. How great for her to have you reading and encouraging.
susanwrites
November 14th, 2008 01:39 am (UTC)
You're very right - it's rarely as crappy as we are afraid it might be. I'm really thrilled for Eileen and a little jealous too. I can't seem to get anything down, crap or otherwise.
hulabunny
November 18th, 2008 10:41 pm (UTC)
Might I echo your sentiments on how lucky I am that Sue is reading and encouraging my crap!
(Deleted comment)
susanwrites
November 14th, 2008 01:42 am (UTC)
I keep thinking of Plant Kid too, hoping he will whisper in my ear. Or perhaps Max as we have these new adventures with Cassie.

But nothing comes. Not yet. No story. Only people. So I wait.
( 11 comments — Leave comment )
WHO AM I?



Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.






Susan Taylor Brown

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"Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties."
--Bonnie Friedman

"As writers, we must be willing to feel our sadness, our anger, our terror, so we can reach in and find our sweet vulnerability that is just sitting there waiting for us to come back home."
--Nancy Slonim Aronie

"Writers write about what obsesses them. You draw those cards. I lost my mother when I was 14. My daughter died at the age of 6. I lost my faith as a Catholic. When I'm writing, the darkness is always there. I go where the pain is."
--Anne Rice

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