Friday, April 5, 2013

Give Yourself Permission to Suck

The hardest thing about writing is writing.
-Nora Ephron

I've been writing.  Mostly 10 min plays, with one long term project possibly.  And right now I'm not writing.

Well I'm writing about writing, but I'm not writing the writing that I was going to be writing.  Instead I'm writing about not writing that writing to inspire me to write.  Got it?

Anyway, I wanted to talk about a problem I have with writing, and hopefully a bit about how I try to deal with it.  It's about why I don't write, or haven't written before, or maybe find it hard to write on occasion.  It's the fear of sucking.  The fear that it will sound all wrong or just not come out right or the premise itself is stupid.

Honestly, that may be the biggest challenge to all art.  In fact, that may be the challenge of art at all.  Being brave enough to be honest.  Writing is the process of telling a story.  Of taking nothing but the ideas most important to you, and creating something new in the world.  And when you expose the ideas you most cherish, the thoughts or themes or stories that were so important to you, well, you expose a very important part of yourself to ridicule.  You risk hearing that it was terrible.  You risk having something you wholly created mocked or found lacking.  But if you don't try, if you don't put everything you have, you want into it, it will never turn out right.  In fact, it will never be.

Anyway, these feelings of self-doubt can be such barriers.  They can stop us before we ever start.  They can kill the thought before it gets to the pen.  And sometimes, you just have to look at yourself and say: I give you permission to suck.  You want this idea to come out.  And it might be ugly, and it might be stupid, and it might never amount to anything, and that's OK.  Just write that idea in your head, and if it sucks, that's just fine.  No matter how bad it is, no matter how crude, just write.  Put it down on paper.  Let it be sucky.  But just do it.

This doesn't always lead to brilliance.  Almost never does.  But it does lead to writing, and that's the first step.  Often it turns out much better than you feared.  Sometimes, the problems you were worried about before you started, that make it "impossible" work themselves out during the writing.  The solutions materialize through the characters.  And sometimes... not.  Sometimes it's just not very good.  Sometimes you do just put it into deep storage.  But that's ok.  You wrote.  You got closer.  And from those attempts, you can some times see how to structure the story.  How to express the idea you want.  Or at least how to try again next time.

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