This was the week that I finally got started. No more excuses. No more floating round the house finding fruit bowls to tidy and clothes to colour code. This was the week that I finally sat down at my computer and put some darn words on this skeleton of an idea.
It was – how can I put it – NOT EASY.
In fact, writing that first paragraph felt like torture. I was second guessing every word. Every sentence felt rubbish. Had I not been working on a computer, I would have done that thing where you write a few words then screw up the paper, throw it at the bin, miss it, rinse and repeat!!
So i took a moment. I made a coffee, did some journaling, and realised that the problem was not the words, it was my attitude.
When you start your novel, release any ideas around perfection. Release the urge to edit. Set free the need to be impressive and literary.
Instead of trying to be clever, I set the intention to get out of my own way and allow the story to reveal itself to me. I stopped thinking as a writer and started thinking as a storyteller. If the perfect word eluded me, I just let it go, stuck in something ‘good enough’ and underlined it for later consideration.
Fact is that this first draft is supposed to be shabby. It is supposed to be rough and ragged and sloppy round the edges. Remind yourself that perfection is part of the editing stage. At the start, you are just putting words on paper and letting the story tumble out.
Just reminding myself of this made the whole process so much easier.
There is a relief in letting go of perfection.
As soon as we are able to release ideas about how our story should be, we open ourself up to the truth of how our story wants to be told. After all, your story found you. It chose you to be the channel by which it comes into this world. Your job is to just get yourself out of the way and allow the words to flow through you.
There are things we can do to aid this process.
First of all, have some kind of plan. This will help when you feel a bit stuck and will also give you a bone to flesh out with words.
Secondly, remind yourself that you are doing this because you chose to do it. But you are also doing this because you feel compelled to do it. This is part of your journey, but not the only reason for living. Honestly!
Thirdly, don’t do a single bit of editing. In fact, turn off spell check and grammar tips on your computer. Who cares if you have spelled it wrong?
Finally, be kind to yourself. Breathe deeply. Relax your shoulders. Smile.
Embrace the idea of a sloppy first draft. In fact, relish this idea. It is supposed to be rubbish. But it is a lot easier to make something good from a whole pile of words than it is from a whole head of perfect ideas.
This is about making your story manifest in its most raw of forms. The cooking comes later. Worry about it then.
For now, my writerly friend, get out of your own way, forget about perfection.
Words on pages, buddy, words on pages!
Are you starting out on your novel writing journey too? What is your experience so far? Leave a comment below – it would be fun to share the journey!