Thursday, May 10, 2012

Don't Be Afraid to Suck

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

Confession time: Sometimes, I'm stupid. See, I don't always learn the lesson the first time. The universe has to tell me again, and again, and again, and...

You get the point.

The lesson of this week seems to be encapsulated in five words: Don't Be Afraid to Suck

I got a lot of links this week, this and this, from my friend Amy; this one; oh, and this one. I myself have written on the topic of fear over at my personal blog.

But as writers (well, as people really) all too often we feel like this:

Why? Well, I can only come up with one reason: We're afraid of sucking. We're afraid that every word from our fingertips will not be perfect, that we cannot capture the thought. So we remain paralyzed, afraid to move because we fear The Suck.
Most folks have heard of NaNoWriMo. This week, I heard of a new hashtag on Twitter, #1k1hr. The idea is to write 1,000 words in one hour. Some people scoff at this (see above link). Some people use the scoffing to cover their feelings. Because they fear The Suck. See, you cannot write a polished story, or even a polished scene in one hour. Just not possible. But you can write something. You can, to use the words in the blog post, "cut away everything that does not look like an elephant."

In one of my all time favorite books on writing Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, she refers to the "shitty first draft." It's an essential part of writing. You need that shitty first draft. You need to cut away everything that doesn't look like an elephant.

That's what #1k1hr is. That's what NaNoWriMo is. It's the shitty first draft. Guess what, I read the 2,100 words I wrote yesterday and some of them sucked. But some of them were good. Some just needed a littler "ner" tweak to be really good (at least in my mind, which is the only mind that counts right now).

So writers, don't fear The Suck. Just write, write, and write some more. Yes, you'll end up with a shitty first (or second, or third) draft. Your elephant will look a little weird. Not every word that you put to pixels or paper will sound like Hemingway. But here's a secret: I bet Hemingway had a shitty first draft. I bet Hemingway occasionally feared The Suck.

But really, it's not so scary. And the good part, is if you don't fear the The Suck, someday, you might just feel like this:

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