Permission to Suck, Granted

When I began writing, eighteen-ish months ago, one of the bits of advice I read was that you need to allow yourself to just write without fear of how bad it’s going to be. Because it is going to be bad.

Or put it other ways: you can’t revise a blank page. Just write the damn book. Writing is rewriting. Vomit out the words. The more you write, the more you learn.

I ignored all that, and continued to be horrified by the words I put on the page. Or I’d stop writing altogether and read instead. Read books on the craft of writing, read books I thought were well-written, examining them for technique and form and trying to learn from the “masters.” In that intervening year, when I did write, I constantly edited as I went. Tweaking this and that, concerning myself with that opening sentence, studiously avoiding adverbs and cliches like the plague. Agonizing over every word. All the while ignoring what I should have been doing. Getting words on the page, allowing myself to suck.

It was probably a year before I truly understood what that that meant. But last fall during NaNoWriMo, it finally clicked. Embrace the suck. The words flowed, adverbs and all. I wrote and wrote and even though the novel wound up making very little sense because I had no idea where it was going, I still managed to get 30K words written. Someday I’ll revisit that story.

Anyway, faced with another several months of being hamstrung and unable to write or get out of my own head long enough to get a story on the page, I enrolled in an online class, Candace Havens’ Fast Draft class. Two weeks solid, writing every day. The goal is to write five thousand words a day, eventually. I will admit it’s difficult to get up there with everything else I have going on. But, I have written every day since I began this class and it’s a great feeling. I’m making progress, solving problems, and embracing the suck.

I mean, this thing totally sucks. No one is seeing this anytime soon. I’m looking forward to revisions, but in the meantime, I’m just plugging away and for the first time, I actually feel as though I might finish a novel.

It’s going to be terrible, but it will be done. Someday.


About Kerrie Strong

Years ago, I chose to suppress my creative side in favor of a career (or two, or three) in science. This blog is filled with exercises intended to reverse the atrophy of my right brain. I hope you enjoy my ramblings.
This entry was posted in NaNoWriMo, Uncategorized, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Permission to Suck, Granted

  1. Gwen Stephens says:

    Kerrie, I feel like I could have written this post! I do the same as you, even though I know I need to embrace the suck (I love that…need to put it on a post-it and stick it to my monitor)! One of my goals for this year has been to participate in July’s Camp NaNoWriMo, but fear of the suck has been hamstringing my intentions. Your encouraging post has given me encouragement! Thanks!

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