Our brains will find any and every excuse possible to justify why we shouldn’t, or can’t, do something.
The brains of writers are no exception.
You’ve probably found yourself hesitating before writing something — or not even writing it at all — because something about it just seems … wrong.
You can’t write it! You can’t! Because it’s too …
Because it’s too … what?
Does it matter?
Here’s the problem with this mindset: It implies that everything you write has to be, somehow, perfect. Not too boring. Not too weird. Not too overdone. A GOOD FLIPPIN’ IDEA.
But guess what, fellow writers? Most of the things you write, in the beginning, will be very boring. They’ll be strange (not necessarily in a good way) and full of tropes and cliches. They probably won’t make much sense … and that’s because they aren’t supposed to.
They call it a first draft for a reason. A reader will (hopefully) never see your first draft. They won’t know how boring it was. How much of a mess your story was the first time you dared to let it all spill out on paper and become something real.
All writers doubt themselves. All writers worry that the project they want to start working on — or have already started, or have recently finished — will not be good enough. This is normal.
What is not normal is letting these roadblocks stop you from writing. That gets you nothing but a draft that will never become anything else.
You have to keep writing … or start writing anyway. Even if what you’re producing right now feels boring, or weird, or like a thousand writers have already told this exact story before.
The only way to progress, and move a story from these milestones that make you feel unsure all the way to something you can genuinely be proud of, is to keep going. Keep writing. It’s really as simple — and as complicated — as that.
Don’t worry about fixing a broken thing when it was never even whole to begin with. An unfinished draft — heck, an idea you haven’t even written down yet — isn’t a complete thing. You can’t make it better until you finish it. And you won’t finish it if you keep overwhelming yourself with thoughts about how imperfect it is.
Just. Write. The thing.
Worry about making it more exciting later.
Worry about making it the right kind of weird later.
Worry about adding new twists on an unoriginal idea later.
For now, just get the idea out of your head. Give yourself something to work with. And allow yourself to create imperfectly. Because that’s the only way you can learn to take something not that great and turn it into something amazing.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.