I read this quote today on AdviceToWriters.com today.
The dream, surely, that we all have, is to write this beautiful paragraph that actually is describing something but at the same time in another voice is writing a commentary on its own creation, without having to be a story about a writer.
Mr. McEwan has a point. Our goal, our dream, is to write perfection, whether a paragraph, a scene, a poem, a novel, or a screenplay.
That pursuit of perfection can be our downfall.
Instead of writing, just getting words on to the page, whatever they may or may not turn out to be, we get obsessed with Perfection.
It can start out as phrasing and rephrasing a piece until we’re happy with it. Then we can’t be happy with it, no matter how hard we work at it. It isn’t Perfect.
And then we start thinking we’re not good enough. That we can’t. That we shouldn’t.
And that is our downfall. We stop writing, and all because of some impossible standard we’ve set for ourselves that only exists in our heads.
Getting past that is a struggle in and of itself. We shouldn’t be discouraged about what we do. Not be other people, family, friends, and we sure as hell shouldn’t let us discourage ourselves.
Get past it. Sit down and write. Put something on the page, it doesn’t matter whether it sucks or not. You can set it aside, re-think it, and fix it later. The point is to get it down on the paper so it can be fixed. It can be ‘perfected’ if it doesn’t make itself an actual, physical thing.
The only thing getting me through The Novel right now is that hope that once I get it down, once it’s done, I can fix it and make it all better. Otherwise, the fear that I’ve only created a (currently) 650 page mountain of crap only suitable for toilet paper would be too overwhelming to deal with.
We must give ourselves the courage to be bad, to fail, to get up off the floor and dust ourselves off and try again. Only in that way can we truly get closer to our goal, our dream, of Perfection.