Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Getting Ahead of Ourselves

Every now and again, I get an idea for a novel, or a short story, or a Something, and I think to myself, "Matt, you are a genius. Now stop talking to yourself and write, dammit." For a span of time that can last anywhere from an hour to a week all I can think about is how awesome the awesome thing I'm going to write will be.

Then, too often, it never gets written. There are always little reasons, of course: needed to work on this essay, play this game, go out with friends or something of the sort. As you're probably guessing by now, those aren't the real reasons.

The real reason is that I, as I'm sure a lot of other writers do, have a tendency to look back on where I was only a year ago, or six months, or even just a few weeks ago, and think "Damn, I was stupid. I'm a way better writer now! Imagine how great I'll be once I've learned more!" And so the thing doesn't get written. Problem is, writing is, like most things, a practiced skill. You need to keep at it to stay good at it and get better, no matter how much knowledge about it you might've acquired. Some things need to be encountered in honest-to-goodness writing and nothing but.

For example, blog-writing. I like to think my blog-writing has improved since I started this thing, though I'm still fairly convinced that the inaugural rib-eating/t-shirt-staining post was my best one in a weird way. And now I'm getting off-topic. Yeah, I've become a veritable champion at this crap.

Back to the point, though I'm not entirely convinced there actually is one. The thing that gets in the way of my own writing--and the writing of a very large percentage of would-be writers out there, if I had to guess--is a sort of self-defeating perfectionism that inhibits one's ability to actually get anything done from the fear that when it is done, there might be a mistake or inadequacy. When put like that, it seems really stupid, but in those moments where you're thinking "Holy crap I can't write at all WHAT THE HELL AM I", I find the brain tends to ignore logic.

If anyone reading this suffers from a similar problem, I can offer only one remedy: write. Even if it's crap, write it anyway. It doesn't matter if you write utter garbage, each piece of garbage you churn out will teach you inventive new ways to avoid the mistakes you made the last time (note: don't make the mistake of assuming that positive reviews from a peer-based site like fictionpress is any indication of real quality, though they sometimes can be. I've seen too many authors of fanfic or unimaginative original fiction think they're literary geniuses when they're basically just undercutting any talent they have by churning out fandom-appeal).

So here's to writing. I've got a couple of short story ideas I've been toying around with, the skeletal beginnings of them might make it on here. To err, after all, is not only human, but it is our greatest gift.

'Till next time, May the Force be with you.

(I wanted to use a Mass Effect parting remark, then realized there really aren't any. What the hell, Bioware? How will people show off their nerd cred now?)

No comments:

Post a Comment