Avoiding Perfection

As I’m writing, I’m focusing on a few things: conflict, word count, and avoiding perfection. I’ve discussed the first two in previous posts and now can elaborate on avoiding perfection.

I sometimes had a hard time writing, not because of writer’s block, but because I wanted perfection from myself. It’s a tall order for someone who doesn’t have a published book let alone an agent. I put a great deal of pressure to write perfect – every time. Every sentence had to magical and each page resulted in literary genius. It’s just not possible. I continue to challenge myself to just write.

Now, I’m not completely sloppy and irresponsible. I do my best to maintain form, proper sentence structure, and verb tense. I guess what I do is not second guess myself. I don’t try to spend five minutes looking for a better word for “laugh” when “laugh” works just fine. I’m not trying to draw out tons of description in a room; at least not yet.

I’m sure when I edit my work for the first time I’ll find a bunch of punctuation and spelling issues that I can resolve. I’m willing to bet I’ll find a bunch of things that need to be fixed, but I’ll worry about them later. Right now, I’m writing. Getting my ideas down on Word so that a story can take form – that’s what I’m interested in. I’ll worry about achieving perfection once I have something to perfect.

By the way, that’s the logo of the 1972 Miami Dolphins who were a perfect 17-0 which is an amazing feat to be perfect for that long. I would’ve shown a picture of the 2007 New England Patriots but they were only perfect during the regular season and lost in the Super Bowl. Bottom line, it’s important to be perfect when it counts.

Advertisements

Word Count

With my new project under way, I’ve commented in previous posts about time. I don’t have much of it and I’m actually OK with that. So when I do have time to write, I try to make it count. I believe I do my best writing in the morning. I’m refreshed, my mind is a lot clearer, and there are no distractions. Actually, there is one distraction, the internet. I’m tempted to check the news, facebook, and email. I try to allow myself  a ten minute max, and I’m usually pretty disciplined. If I were more disciplined, I would sit down and start writing and not get so easily distracted. Baby steps, I guess.

I digress because this post is about my word count in the morning. Before I start writing, I think to myself that if I can at least get 250 words I’ve accomplished something. Interestingly enough I usually surpass that most mornings. I know it’s not a lot. 250 words is a basically a one page Word document. But there have been mornings where’s hit close to 600 words, and on the flip side I’ve hit close to 200 words. I take what I can get and feel good about that. The word count approach keeps me focused and provides a goal for that morning.

I didn’t try this technique on my last novel. I basically pushed myself through the novel and the pace was exhausting. Now, I’m dedicating sometime in the morning and then whatever time I get throughout the day is a bonus.

Anyone have any other good goal writing ideas? I like to hear them.

On to the next project…

A couple of weeks ago I started my next project. I made previous posts of things I’m trying differently this time. For starters, I’ve read two books on the craft to get my mind in the right direction. I’ve learned the free-form style of just writing is great for practice, but when I really want to create a story I need structure. Taking the time to frame out the plot, create characters, and do an outline so far has helped.

What’s also different this time is, well, time. I have less of it but I’m starting think that’s a good thing. I’m married, with a young son, and a mortgage. All take time and for good reason. My writing seems to fit in whenever it can. I seem to do my best writing in the morning before work. I usually get about thirty minutes (possibly more if I’m not checking emails or the news). I aim to get down about 250 words. Sometimes it’s more or less – usually depends what kind of flow I’m in. What I do know is that the time I do have I use it and make it work.  

As I’m writing, I realize I’m not getting caught up in the minutia of details. I can remember my first chapter of my last project. I painstakingly described the characters clothes, the room, the weather outside, etc. all of which detracted from creating a strong opening. I know my approach is different and time will tell if it’s better than my last effort.

My take on this novel already has a different vibe to it and I like it. I feel less pressure to get it done and really enjoy telling the story. I’m hoping it will someday transform into something tangible that I will get published. I can’t worry about that now as I’m only concerned about one thing when I’m at my laptop: writing.