Hey, writers (of the creative variety)! Do you remember the simplicity of childhood make-believe? Your bestie would come up to you and say “hey, let’s pretend that…” and would fill-in-the blank with something delightful, adventurous or silly, and it filled up your afternoon. Maybe you played “house” (mom, dad, brother, baby, etc). Maybe you played pirates, princesses, Ninja Turtles or (like me), Rainbow Brite. But whatever it was, it was easy. It was creative. It was fun. And there was no agonizing over character motivation, contrived plots, style, or believe-ability. It just happened.
I’ve been writing novels for almost four years, and in that time, I’ve struggled with the need to be perfect in my craft. Clarity and strength is important in writing, yes, but sometimes, it’s a hindrance. I know, it’s nothing new to be told that, for a rough draft, you “just need to write”–to get it out, and worry about making it look pretty and making it make sense later. But if you’re like me, there’s still that midget of a voice in your brain, demanding of you, perfection. And so you sit and stare at the screen. You stress. You look at your outline and think, how did this seem so easy before? How did this flow so wonderfully, how did these characters pop in my head, and how is it that now, now that I’m attempting to write this thing down, it’s…stagnant?
Now, somewhere along the journey of your WIP, you DO need to concern yourself with character, plot, style, etc, but if you’re working on your rough draft, my challenge to you is this: Play make-believe. That’s right: Hey, let’s pretend….! Let it be simple. Let it be fun. Let go and don’t concern yourself with the fact that “as a RD, it’s going to be bad”, because with that kind of negative proclamation, you could be sabotaging your efforts. Yes, it’s going to be bad, or at least not that great, but would kid you be concerned with that? Wouldn’t kid you just…play?
(Disclaimer: it could be something else that’s causing your writing woes; this is just one method of troubleshooting that maybe you haven’t yet considered.)
So, for now, be a “kid” again (yes, even if your WIP involves blood, guts and scary stuffs), and just let your imagination run wild. Go off your outline, sure, but when the words stop flowing, put yourself in your kid shoes again, and go from there. And, hey, guess what! If you have a young kid, you have a built-in model. Watch them play, and follow their example. Write without restraint. Remember, your profession is creative by nature. So, Writer, create. Pretend. Play.
Time for me to take my own advice and finish my RD! What about you? How goes your WIP?