Writers are terrified of making mistrakes.
   See, you got a little twitch there, didn’t you? This fear has killed more novels than have ever been published. It’s number two on my list of “Top Ten Mistakes Fiction Writers Make.” Many writers are controlled by the urge to perfect before pushing on. You know the symptoms: You’re on draft ninety-seven of you first sentence, revision eighty-six of your first paragraph.
    The Fix: Recognize this fear is normal and you are not a psychotic moron for feeling it–still, you’ve got to knock it off.
      All your life you’ve been brainwashed. “Obey the rules.” “Get it right the first time.” “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” This advice is great for brain surgeons. For writers on their first draft, not so much.
      Ignore that nasty little internal censor’s voice, junk the story through. Get the thing written. It’s awful? It’s supposed to be awful.
     All the detail work, the polishing, the proofreading, the perfecting, happens in the revision phase.
     If you spend days, weeks, years, working on fine-tuning your first chapter where the lovers meet in Istanbul, you may well find out the book works better set in Grants Pass, Oregon. (I can’t imagine that happening, I’m just saying . . .)
    To help break this habit, fling off this phobia, try writing something that doens’ matter much, maybe just a stream-of-consciousness rap about your first ex-husband, a rant about Republicans. Maybe a love scene that doesn’t belong anywhere except in your fantasy bank. Go ahead, let ‘er rip. Make mistakes, keep going–how important could a mistake be in this crapolla?
    Do that a few times just to get the feeling of power that comes from abandoning a mistake and pushing on. You’re a pro, you can go back and fix it later. What you need now–the only thing that will get you through this damn book–is word count.
    Hit those keys, let the strokes fall where they will. As always, WRITE AT ABSOLUTE TOP SPEED.
     John

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