Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Passel of P's Preventing Progress

We all want our work to be, well, PerfectPolished, every word a precious gem, something that garners praise and admiration from the public.

And we want, no, expect, it to come out that way.  On the first draft.

Draft?  Who needs a draft?


Draft of Madame Bovary via Wikimedia Commons
We need to understand and accept that perfection is not possible.  We will never get our work to be perfect.  We can get it, perhaps, as perfect as we can make it at this time, and then make the decision - is this good enough to send out, seeking an agent and/or publisher now, or does it need to go in the back of the drawer to be revised again in another year or two?

We need to let go of the pride that tells us that we cannot/should not write multiple drafts, go through multiple revisions, because we're too good for that.  Uh, no, we're not.  (See above, Madame Bovary.)

Pride goeth before a fall.  Being too attached to our precious darlings, thinking that our work is brilliant, simply brilliant, keeps us from making the revisions we need to make it presentable.

On the other hand, self-doubt, and criticism can eat us up, preventing us from putting one word on the page (or screen.)  We procrastinate and postpone because we are petrified with fear, because we know that the words on the page can't possibly match up to the perfection in our heads.  We poison ourselves, telling ourselves we have nothing to say that hasn't been said before, a zillion times.

By Sir Frank Dicksee [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
It's true, nothing has been said that hasn't been said, done, enacted before. Yet we keep reading books, watching TV and movies, going to plays. Why? Because even if "boy meets girl" has been done before, it hasn't been done that way, with that twist, with that particular interpretation.

Storywise, West Side Story = Romeo and Juliet
(with a very slight change of ending.) Right?

Which one would you get rid of, the Shakespeare version, or the Bernstein/Sondheim/Robbins version?  Or would you, like me, be adamant about keeping both

If we have that spark burning inside, we need to stop letting perfectionism and procrastination prevent us from banging out a draft, because nobody can tell our story the way we can.  We need to sideline our pride and acknowledge that our draft will need to be revised.  One speaker I heard suggested a minimum of 17 times.  While I wouldn't adopt any set number as a hard-and-fast rule - it's possible that 4 revisions will do the trick, it's possible that 40 will not -  we need to understand that writing is about REwritingAlways

We simply need to do whatever we need to do to get our story in the best possible shape.

Which P's most often get in your way?
Share in the comments, below. (Please.)