08 Dec Finding Objectivity
I’ve just had an intense period of working on a new project. I was making myself do around 1000 words a day whatever was happening. It didn’t matter how bad the words were, how resistant I was, I showed up. It’s a powerful act this ‘showing up’. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about it in her excellent TED performance on nurturing creativity. Nobody can make you do it. Only you.
During the three months of daily writing I often sunk into despair. That black dog sort of despair, when you think that everything you write is a load of rubbish. The way I kept going was not to look back. I didn’t allow myself to edit, I just kept pushing the story forward. I also gave myself targets.
I decided to submit the first 10,000 or so words to a writing fellowship. A deadline forces you to tighten up your writing and is always helpful. It was an interesting process because at the last minute I made some radical changes. I tried not to be a perfectionist and just sent it off.
I then took a five-week break. I barely touched it. Of course, I felt guilty for not working on it. Yesterday I sat down and re-read – with some trepidation – what I had submitted. I was mildly surprised. Yes, there are still lots of places that I need to fix. Yes, there is a long way to go. But having some distance from my words gave me objectivity. It allowed me to read them with fresh eyes. It made me feel that it is worth continuing.
So if any of you are stuck, or you can’t see the wood for the trees, put your writing to one side. Give yourself a break. Trust that while you are having a break, your subconscious is still working on it. Then when you are feeling in a positive frame of mind, get a cup of coffee (or a stiff drink ☺) and re-read it.
You’ll be amazed at how different it sounds.
Would love to hear your comments!