The best writing advice is always worth passing on.
I was talking to a friend yesterday about writing. She is a wonderful, wonderful writer. Her words flow together like silvery streams. They make me gasp and feel and ponder. All the good stuff.
But she doesn’t trust them.
She frets and worries over word choice. Going back and nitpicking sentences over and over again. Stopping the flow by shifting and changing and redirecting. Focusing on one word instead of getting them all out, putting them all down, going with the tide.
And so, she is stalled. Halfway through a manuscript, worried she won’t make it to the end.
“You have to trust your words,” I said to her yesterday. “Trust yourself as a writer and give yourself permission to get the job done. Your words are the least of your problems.”
Take your own writing advice
Afterwards, I smacked myself around the head a few times.
For I have been given this very same advice. From a trusted source.
At the time, I nodded and looked earnest and completely misunderstood. In giving the same advice to my friend, however, I finally got it.
It’s easy to get bogged down, worried that your words will never match the gleaming vision in your head.
You can get stuck in a holding pattern, mostly because you don’t have the courage to try the next thing, to push the boundaries a little, to see what’s possible – and so you focus on one word, in one sentence, worrying it to death.
Or you look at what you’ve written, and can’t see how it can be done differently. Going beyond what’s there, in black and white, is too hard.
There will never be a perfect first draft
At the end of the day, however, there will never be a perfect first draft.
You will always need to go back and rewrite. Probably several times.
I once asked literary agent Sophie Hamley what the biggest mistakes are that writers make when submitting to agents.
Her response? “They submit first drafts.”
Your first draft is not supposed to be perfect. It’s supposed to be finished.
Today I saw this quote by Nora DeLoach: “If you fall in the love with the vision you want for your work, not with your words, the rewriting is easier.”
There is always rewriting. You get to go back. Once you’ve got it down.
Hold to your vision. Trust that the right words will be there when you need them. And then see what happens.
Join Write With Allison Tait, my new online writing community here.
Or check out So You Want To Be A Writer (the book), where my co-author Valerie Khoo and I have distilled the best tips from hundreds of author and industry expert interviews. Find out more and buy it here.