There are only two rules of successful writing.
(Oh, there are lots of techniques, tips and strategies. But there are only two rules. Break these, you’re doomed. It’s that simple).
Rule 1: Just Get On With It
You sit down, flex your fingers, twiddle a pen, lean forward and….you just don’t feel ready, you know?
Correct. This is because you’re never ready. There is always something you will want to be doing more, whether it’s reading a book, taking the dog for a walk, knocking back a glass of Merlot, or hooking paperclips together to make an enormous chain you can drape around your desk like Christmas tree tinsel.
You’ll never be ready.
So waiting to be ready is pointless.
Just get on with it, and damn how you feel about it.
Rule 2: Just Get Rid Of It
You’ve edited and re-edited and re-re-edited and re-re-re-edited, and it’s good, but you want it to be perfect.
The secret of deadlines is this: they stop you from hanging onto your writing forever. Because you will always be able to go back to a piece of writing and improve it. This is because you’re an older, wiser person when you rewrite. Even if it’s only five minutes later. Five minutes is a long time – for example, it’s enough time to edit something once.
Listen to your gut, by all means – but obey deadlines. Especially the self-imposed ones. They will make you a published writer.
(The tricky bit is having realistic deadlines. So don’t set them until you know you’re capable of meeting them).
Just get rid of it, and damn how you feel about it.
“Were I to await perfection, my book would never be finished” –
Tai T’ung, “History of Chinese Writing”.
Image: miss pupik
NOTE: The original version of this article showcased one of my quirks: incorrectly putting “there’s” instead of “there are”. (There’s mistakes, and there are mistakes. I’m guilty of both).
But I missed it because of Rule 2, so that’s my Get Out Of Jail Free card. Ahem.