Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Friday, November 23, 2007

Doing it Right

Spelling isn't everything. There are days when spelling TUESDAY simply doesn't count.
-Winnie the Pooh

When I was seven I was given a fabulous five-year diary for Christmas. I was very excited: the pages were clean and bright and full of possibilities. Having waited until the first day of the new year to begin my chronicling, my hand was practically trembling. I was thrilled to write the first notations. Pen clutched between small fingers, I dived in. And promptly made an error within twenty seconds. I misspelled a word such as 'present' or something as mundane as that. In any case, the instant I understood my mistake, I was entirely devastated. I scratched out the word. Then I wailed: the page now had an ugly ink blob instead of either pristine pages or tantalising writing.
I believe I cried and I distinctly remember that I put away the diary at that point and never wrote in it again.

I am currently reading 'No Plot? No Problem!' by Chris Baty. This is a book that encourages writers to try their hand at creating a novel in thirty consecutive days. The author insists it can be done, but on one condition: no editing can take place. Put aside the demons and the inner voice that demand you destroy your work because it 'might not be good enough.' Launch right in and start writing, and see what happens. Worry not about typing errors or glaring factual mistakes; the vital element is to get the story on paper and leave the proofreading and cleaning for later on when the tale is safe.
I could not agree more with this sentiment.
If striving for perfection halts our progress and nothing is achieved then it causes only grief.
I have never forgotten that diary. It serves as a reminder that we ought to do what we can, as well as we are able. The story, in the case of a writer, should be the most important thing. Comparisons to other people are a weak point; we should try to do the thing we most love doing, and be more like our own selves. Let's see what creative enlightenment can come from our wellsprings if we tap into our individuality.

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