Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Wonders of Word Vomit


(Courtesy of **CRT**)

Today I am trying my best to remember what I've learned from Anne Lamott. Want to hear?

Okay, well if you don't, feel free to not read this.

She says: "Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.

I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won't have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they're doing it."

Her advice is: let your first draft be shitty. Like word vomit. Every thought and idea that occurs to you, spill it out on the page. Stuff doesn't make sense? Screw making sense. Make no sense. Don't shore up plot holes. Expand them until they suck everything else into a vortex. Feel like changing voices halfway through? Do it. Make it big and stupid and clumsy and obnoxious. Do it.

That's not exactly what she says, by the way.

I have So. Much. Trouble. With this. If you know the whole enneagram personality numbering system, and I tell you that I'm number 1, you know what I mean. For those of you not In The Know, the number 1 personality type (not a ranking system, just numbers assigned to each one) is known as "The Perfectionist." As in: everything is either good or bad. THERE IS NO GRAY. Therefore eradicate the bad! Right now!

Which is why TM had seven false starts before it transformed into a complete story.

Anyway: one of the descriptors you might (might) use for someone like me (maybe) is...stiff. I find it difficult to let go. And that's stupid, because it's not like I didn't completely rewrite TM after the first draft was done anyway, so what was the purpose in starting it over again seven times if it was just going to change again? I suppose it was a learning experience. But I don't need to have that experience every single time I write something.

So today's goal: embrace the word vomit. Turn off the internal editor. Shake it out.

I'll let you know how it goes. Any advice, anyone?

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