Dare to Suck

Today’s post is intended for any writers who occasionally encounter… well, let’s call them obstacles. I’m talking about the sort of thing that grinds your writing to a halt.

Whether it writer’s block, the conspicuous absence of the muse, or just the feeling that every single word you write stinks worse than Satan’s dirty gym socks, I think it’s safe to say that most of us encounter such obstacles from time to time.

NOTE: If you are the sort of writer who can effortlessly crank out several thousand words of pristine prose each and every day, all before bathing and feeding your angelic children and dropping them off at school, cleaning your house, and then going off to your day job saving the rainforest and curing cancer, well then, you may just want to move along now. Nothing to see here. But please know that I hate you.

Anyhoo, back to the rest of us mere mortals – and those pesky obstacles. They can come in all shapes and sizes. Some may be mere speedbumps, while others are more like brick walls. Some may feel like literary quicksand, while others loom above you like Mount Everest. Some might feel like tiny mosquito bites on your literary psyche, while others… well, you get the idea.

Regardless of the size of your obstacle (and whatever simile you might use to describe it), I think it’s first helpful to identify what the obstacle is. Know your enemy, and all that. So I’m going to outline some of the more frequent culprits, with the hope of shedding some light on what exactly is standing in your way. But I’m going to do more than that. I’m going to show you an approach that just might help you overcome those mosquito-biting, brick-walling, quicksandy (hey, it might be a word) speedbumps from hell.

The usual suspects

Any number of factors might slow down or stop your writing progress. Let’s examine a few of the most common ones, and see if any of them look familiar to you.

  • I have absolutely no idea what happens next in my story.
  • I’m not sure I’m the right person to be writing this book.
  • Nothing I write is as good as what I picture in my mind.
  • I know the story I want to tell, but just can’t figure out how to get it started.
  • This next scene is really, REALLY important, and I don’t want to get it wrong.
  • I’m worried that these pants make my ass look fat.

Okay, let’s ignore that last one. I have personally proven that having a fat ass in no way impedes one’s writing. But let’s look at the other problems. Specifically, what one thing do ALL of these problems have in common?

Fear.

That may seem an oversimplified analysis, but think about it. Each one of these demonstrates a level of uncertainty or insecurity that is stopping you in your tracks. Fear of what? You name it. Fear of failure, of getting it wrong, of not being good enough, of not having a viable story to tell.

And this sort of fear is nothing to be ashamed of. I’ve faced all of these fears, and they continue to crop up, just when I think I’ve got the problem licked. (For example, I’m almost positive these pants do make my ass look fat.) At the risk of going all Oprah on you, I’ll say this: I’ve walked in your shoes, and I feel your pain. Yet somehow I’ve managed to overcome it, been able to get a couple of books written, and – gasp – even sold one of those books.

How? By facing that fear head-on. Not because I’m so rugged and brave. But because I recognize that the consequences of the things we fear are not actually life-threatening. I mean, you’re not diving naked off a cliff into a shark-infested lagoon. You’re not walking into a cage match against a chainsaw-wielding opponent armed only with a Q-tip. No, you’re sitting in front of a computer or a pad of paper, and all you’ve got to do is press some keys or move a pen around. Hey, what’s the worst that could happen?

“Well… it might suck,” you say.

“So what?” I retort. (Gotta love the word retort, probably spoken with the greatest gravitas ever by Samuel L. Jackson in the movie Pulp Fiction. But I digress…)

Here’s a news flash: Writing something that sucks isn’t fatal. And when you’re in an early draft of your manuscript, it isn’t even career-threatening. I’ll go you one better. Writing something that sucks is better than writing nothing at all.

Why? Because it maintains and builds your momentum. More important, it gives you something to work with. I mean, it’s easier to fix something than to create something, right?

Carving the elephant

There’s a famous quote, variations of which are attributed to many different sculptors. It goes something like this:

How do you carve a statue of an elephant? Start with a block of marble, and chip away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant.

To me that’s what writing is like. You carve away the bad stuff to get to the good. But first you need that block of literary marble to work with. And that requires you to do one thing:

Dare to suck.

By this I mean, go ahead and write something. Even if it pushes the Suck-O-Meter into the red zone.

Don’t know what happens next? Skip to a part where you do know what happens. Don’t think you’re the right person for the job? Prove (or disprove) it, by taking a shot, and remembering that YOU came up with this idea, not somebody else. Don’t like what you see on the page? That’s okay – you can either fix it later, or delete it (remember, they’re just words – you can always write more of ’em). Don’t know how the story begins? Same advice – write something. If it’s not the right place to start, you’ll figure that out. But now you’ll at least have something to react to.

Bottom line: write something, and be willing for it to suck.

Easy to say, hard to do

I’ll admit, this is way easier said than done. I try to write very tight first drafts, with a lot of attention to language and rhythm. It’s very hard for me to move on when I know I haven’t gotten something quite right. But I also know how easy it is for me to lose my momentum, so I’ve fallen into the habit of inserting comments in my manuscript, usually in some obnoxious, hard-to-miss color.

That way, the next time I’m reading through my work-in-progress, I’ll see helpful reminders like MAKE THIS HALF AS LONG AND TWICE AS FUNNY, or gentle encouragement like LEARN HOW TO DESCRIBE THE @#$%^& SETTING, YOU &*$%#! In the meantime, I can plow ahead with my elephant-carving, knowing that those comments will be waiting for me, reminding me that I’m far from done with this thing. But at least I’m getting somewhere. And that’s a good thing.

Go ahead, take the dare.

Believe me, I’m no stranger to the kind of obstacles I’ve described. Writer’s block is an old friend of mine, so I’ve had occasion to use the dare to suck approach repeatedly. And guess what? Every time I’ve tried it, it worked.

So that’s what I recommend to you. Dare to suck. Flail away, knowing full well that you’ll probably get it wrong. But also knowing that getting it wrong will provide you with material to sculpt into something right.

I hope this is helpful. Now, good luck carving that elephant!

How about you? Do any of you occasionally go deer-in-the-headlights when it’s time to write? Have you dared to suck? Or do you have any other tricks for plowing through the fear?

 

Image licensed from iStockphoto.com.

 

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About Keith Cronin

Author of the novels ME AGAIN, published by Five Star/Gale; and TONY PARTLY CLOUDY (published under his pen name Nick Rollins), Keith Cronin is a corporate speechwriter and professional rock drummer who has performed and recorded with artists including Bruce Springsteen, Clarence Clemons, and Pat Travers. Keith's fiction has appeared in Carve Magazine, Amarillo Bay, The Scruffy Dog Review, Zinos, and a University of Phoenix management course. A native of South Florida, Keith spends his free time serenading local ducks and squirrels with his ukulele.

Comments

  1. says

    I don’t think fear is an oversimplification at all. It may not be the word we want to hear, but I think it’s at the core of what many of us feel when we are “blocked” by the page.

    “Nothing I write is as good as what I picture in my mind.”

    For me, that’s the biggest problem. And I do struggle with it almost constantly. What has helped is reading about other authors’ writing/revision processes, and realizing that the writing is more in the editing than it is in the writing.

    And in fact, I’m in the middle of editing my own manuscript — the first time I’ve undertaken a full revision process — and I enjoy it so much, because I can see, really see, the difference when I fixed the words. I can see the manuscript getting closer to what’s in my head. And it makes me so happy. :)

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    • says

      To be clear, I’m turning something into something better. That’s the part I like. But it doesn’t work without the part that comes before: turning nothing into something. I had to put down the first draft, no matter how sucky, because otherwise there would be nothing to fix.

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  2. says

    When I read this:

    “I try to write very tight first drafts, with a lot of attention to language and rhythm.”

    I was insanely jealous. When I write a first draft, I’m just gasping to heave the words on the page–at that point, language and rhythm aren’t much on the forefront of my brain! That comes in the multiple revisions.

    I have to write my drafts in “dare to suck” mode. As the previous commenter said, there’s a lot of wrestling trying to get the story in your head to show up on paper. I also often have gaps of detail in my first draft because it is far harder for me to find time to do the research I need then it is to have actual writing time (research requires time/travel/$$/flexibility with my day job (because library hours suck), but all I need to write is paper or a computer hookup).

    I write notes to myself in my manuscript but I like that you use humor/sarcasm with yourself in the reminders. Using that approach, rather than cold hard notes to self will bring a little smile to my face when it comes time for revision.

    For me it’s “Dare to suck” or die!

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  3. says

    It’s very hard for me to move on when I know I haven’t gotten something quite right.

    Yep, that’s me. What makes it even more entertaining is sometimes I can’t ID what I’ve messed up when my muse grinds to a halt—like my dog, when she wants to go one direction, and I’d planned to go another. Dug in. Stubborn. Ready to stare me down until I do what she wants.

    You have to be willing to accept that (1) your words/ideas did not translate in a perfectly poetic way from mind to manuscript (2) it will suck *worse* before it gets better, because–to use your elephant simile–adding clay back to the failed creation = awkward clumps (3) you’re going to have to try again (4) and possibly again (5) and again.

    Time for me to face the elephant in my room today. Man, he’s an ugly beast. Thanks, Keith.

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  4. says

    I’m laughing because I know just how right you are. And it is definitely fear that holds a writer back. I overcame it once, long enough to write and publish my first novel, and I fully intend to keep defeating it and hopefully become a better writer in the process.

    Excellent post. Now I am off to go carve another elephant. :)

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  5. says

    Keith,
    I love this post–sage advice and plenty of yucks. I like the quote about carving the elephant. I believe a lot of what we call writer’s block is a function of deeper issues with either the story or the characters. Perhaps the writer has a strong beginng, middle, and ending, but there’s not enough story there to connect the dots. James Scott Bell, in his book on plot and structure, says writers often hit a wall in the second act of the classic three-act structure. I think what writers need to remember is writer’s block will happen and a first draft (especily for pantsers like me) is a time of discovering the essence of your story and making it sing in the revision process. Thanks, Keith.

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  6. says

    Keith, this is one of the funniest and most helpful posts on overcoming those pesky literary obstacles I’ve ever read! Thank you.

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  7. says

    Nothing I write is as good as what I picture in my mind.

    This is the worst one. The novel I’m working on? My second one (first being in a drawer)? It’s awesome. The best. It may be award-winning.

    Problem: I’ve only written three chapters so far. And they’re not as good as what I pictured in my mind. I’m hoping they will be, like you said, by the time they go through an extensive editing process. And after I mull them over in my mind and think of amazing things to add. And after my critique group tears them to shreds.

    But I agree that fear is the worst enemy we face. No one will ever read our novels and love or hate them if we don’t write them first. This was an excellent post.

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  8. says

    This is a fantastic post, and just what I needed to read as I work on the revision process for my novel.

    The “first” draft took me far longer than I want to admit because I just haven’t learned how to move on before something is perfect, or at least “perfect for now.”

    I think I need to have a DARE TO SUCK bumper sticker made and hang it directly over my computer when I write my next manuscript. It would probably save me from a lot of angst!

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  9. Jeanne Kisacky says

    Some blocks want to be elephants. Some want to be walruses. Some don’t know what they want to be. My problem is figuring out just what the heck I’m carving until it’s all whittled to nothing, or worse, I get halfway through the elephant and discover it really wanted to be a walrus. What the heck can you do with a walrusphant?

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  10. says

    Perfect reading for today. I just got started on a big project yesterday and absolutely have to write something, anything, small, large, sucky, wonderful today. Thank you!

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  11. says

    This is just what I needed to read, as I sit infrint of my Netbook, staring at the curser on a blank page lol.

    I’m having a HUGE problem ending my story *sighs deeply*

    Right, that’s it….I’m gunna do it! :)

    Thanks for making me feel less alone :)

    Xx

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  12. says

    Great article, Keith

    I have daily bouts of what I like to call ahhhhhh!!%^&%£@@£$$

    However, you need to keep the faith, right? I mean it always ends well after all. Please for the love of God tell me it ends well :)

    Matt (Turndog Millionaire)

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  13. Carmel says

    “Writing something that sucks is better than writing nothing at all.” I need that staring at me from my screen saver. After a recommendation in a previous column, I started reading James Scott Bell’s book on plot and structure. Today I followed his lead to write 350 words first thing in the morning and found out that’s only one page single-spaced. I’m even more encouraged now, because that one page can and probably will suck. So what?! Writing something that sucks is better than writing nothing at all!

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  14. says

    I’m with you, Keith–keep on keepin’ on is the only way to get to the end. I use the Comments feature in Word to do the same thing you do, leaving a trail of notes-to-self behind me as I get the story told. Nicely written post, also.

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  15. Pam says

    Keith, this is brilliant and just what I needed to hear today. I guess I should stop stalling by reading blog posts and just get down to it. Daring to suck…now.

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  16. says

    Funny, Keith. Because I’ve met you, I hear this piece being read in your dry tone of voice.

    I’m temporarily stuck on my WIP. Again. But I’m finally learning that if I write some fiction every day, even on another project, it reduces my fear and (hopefully) helps improve my craft. Meanwhile, the kinks in the WIP work themselves out — at least they have before, so I’m trusting the process again.

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  17. says

    You know, I started the day just fine…and now I’m worried about my pants. Thanks a lot.

    Kidding. What a great post, Keith. Your list of fears is right on. There are antidotes to each one, which boil down to “be brave”. The world needs your story. Only you can write it. If you feel anxious, you’re supposed to: fiction is rooted in our fears.

    What happens next is whatever makes things worse. It’s your own convictions that make your story worthy. Your job is not to get readers to see the picture in your mind, but to provoke a picture in theirs. The importance of a scene comes not from how it’s written but from what it says.

    Worry less about your words. Focus more on what’s in your heart.

    And BTW, the right sports jacket can do a lot for the wrong pants. Just sayin’.

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    • says

      Between Keith making me laugh (starting with “But please know that I hate you”) and Don making me cry (“The world needs your story. Only you can write it. If you feel anxious, you’re supposed to: fiction is rooted in our fears”), this post is a keeper. Thank you so, so much!!!!!! You’ve no idea how much relief this brought my heart today. Then again . . . maybe you do! Writing mercies!

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  18. Bernadette Phipps Lincke says

    I was ripped to shreds by an editor once. I think you may have met her because of some of the content you included in your blog. She’s the one that created the shark-diving-naked event, and she liked to hold weekly segments of that game where you go against your chainsaw wielding opponent with a Q-tip. The worst part about her–she was on the money when she ripped my work (and my ass) to shreds. Talk about a dose of mind-numbing fear. I couldn’t write a full sentence for weeks–I just sat on the new ass she had ripped me, staring at a blank screen. However, when I finally contained myself enough to strike a key again, armed with a new awareness of obstacles I needed to overcome, my work osmosis’d (?) from total suck to better than suck. Sometimes, if the fear doesn’t kill us in the process–we may actually evolve into stronger writers because of having worked through it. Thanks for the helpful tips here on how to handle our fear/block. I love the comments in the margin thingy. And yes! Writing something that sucks is better than not writing at all–especially because by sucking–you can evolve into not-sucking.

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  19. says

    I was just checking my email trying to avoid the *all of the above (including these yoga pants which do make me look fat) Clicked on the Writer Unboxed link to prolong the absence from my wip and found this post, which turned out to be just the impetus I needed. Thanks, Keith, I’m now going back to my elephant . . . or is it a duck?

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  20. says

    I want to say so much in this comment but I don’t know where to start!

    I will say this, though: I agree with, “Writing something that sucks is better than writing nothing at all.”

    Thanks for the informative, inspiring, and very funny posting.

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  21. says

    Love this. “Writing something that sucks is better than writing nothing at all.” Much like something Nora Robert said, “You can fix crap. You can’t fix a blank page.”

    I know these things, and yet, still I get stuck into that fear quagmire. It’s like the elephant is real and is sitting on my hands. *learns how to nudge the elephant so it gets off*

    Love your tip about leaving the notes to yourself in colored font – totally stealing. Thank you for this post!

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  22. says

    I agree with Therese: so hard to move on when I haven’t gotten something quite right. Even if it’ll get changed later, I have to be satisfied with its present state before forging ahead.

    Then there’s the never-ending allure of more concrete, results-oriented tasks like, um, my day job? It’s so easy to get distracted by the thought of all the things I have to do for work, things that will make me feel good because, by the end of the day, they’ll be done. Finished. Ahh.

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  23. says

    I’m glad this seems to be resonating!

    I’ve faced all of the fears I listed and more. Another biggie for me, which is a variation of “This next scene is really, REALLY important, and I don’t want to get it wrong,” is the dreaded…

    FEAR OF THE ENDING.

    I tend to tiptoe around that particular part of the elephant for a long time before finally picking up my chisel and carving away. Anybody else have a hard time wrapping it all up?

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    • Marianne Vest says

      Yeah the end of the elephant is really scary, big and scary! Having written that it doesn’t look very helpful. I just know I get scared at the end but really the end should be the easiest part of all. If you’re writing non-fiction the ending isn’t hard, it’s fun because you’re almost finished, so maybe we should just believe our stories or novels as truth and go to the end, the true end. Maybe do the end several times in several different ways (that would depend on how long the ending is of course. I’m not sure if I’m more afraid now or less. I wish I would just get to the end of the one I’m on now.

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    • says

      Understandable, as pulling together an ending can be one of the most complex parts of sculpting your elephant. You know, like the trunk. One slip of the chisel and Jumbo can become Stubby. Then you’re seaching the studio, wondering where you left the metaphorical super glue.

      Great post, Keith.

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  24. says

    Here’s Somerset Maugham on his second go-around with “Of Human Bondage.” He set the MS aside and wrote for the theatre for 10 years. Had 4 plays on the London stage in 1 season. And then returned to fiction:

    “I no longer sought a jeweled prose and a rich texture…. I sought on the contrary plainness and simplicity. With so much that I wanted to say…I could not waste words, and I set out now with the notion of using only such as were necessary to make my meaning clear. I had no space for ornament.”

    Thanks for a great post.

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  25. says

    I just wanted to say that I believe laughter sparks creativity, so now I have all kinds of great ideas thanks to you.

    I get a sinking fear every time I walk into a bookstore, but then occasionally I’ll read something and think, well I can write better than that. (Occasionally, I repeat. Those are the thoughts I cling to, not the books that make me think, I’ll never measure up to that).

    Wouldn’t it be nice to really have a Suck-O-Meter that could gauge our writing as we were typing it?

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  26. Breedeen says

    “Dare to suck” is going up on a post-it note stuck to my laptop screen right…now.

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  27. Sarah E.A. Fusaro says

    Keith! This is wonderful. And actually, worrying about pants making my ass look big can be quite a detriment, you know. Sometimes I’m sitting on the couch, feverishly typing away, when I have this moment of self-realization and I think, “Oh gosh… I look like a cave-person! I’ve been manically snacking chocolates for.. hours! It’s three a.m.! I haven’t gotten dressed all day!” Yes, it’s awful. But that should not stop me from writing more words that suck! So I will carry on. ;)

    Seriously though, great post! So super encouraging as it seems that every time I have a writing victory, an even bigger brick wall gets thrown my way (yes, walls can be thrown).

    :) So thanks for the encouragement! Off to keep chipping away… at this… whatever it is….

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    • Sarah E.A. Fusaro says

      Oh and I absolutely leave myself sweet, helpful reminders such as: “What ridiculous crap. Are you crazy? Yes, you are. Fix this later. Gah.”

      You know, something to brighten my future editing process hehe. ;)

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  28. Marianne Vest says

    I can only chime in and say that this is just exactly what I needed to hear today. Rather than work on “fixing” the two paragraphs that I worked on for hours last night (seriously two hours for two paragraphs and I did consume almost an entire box of graham crackers at the same time), I will make more stuff to fix today. I was looking at what I have ready to “fix” this morning and there’s not much there only an elephant embryo so I’ll work on growing the elephant today so I can fix it tonight and eat more junk.

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  29. says

    Oh, I love this post.

    First, I’ve been known to insert similar reminders into my first draft. Second, this is just what I needed today:
    Flail away, knowing full well that you’ll probably get it wrong. But also knowing that getting it wrong will provide you with material to sculpt into something right.

    Thanks!

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  30. says

    I love your sense of humor. Fear is the bane of my existence, and I always force myself to just keep going. At least if I do something, I’m not standing still. Plus, I’ve started in the last month or so recognizing that it isn’t life or death to pitch wrong, receive a rejection, or write something that lacks emotion, description, or whatever. When it comes down to the basics (care of my family, a job, food to eat), I’ve got them covered, and the only person (right now) putting pressure on me is myself. Your post was so fun to read. Thanks!

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  31. says

    Oh, thank you, I needed this today. Life has been getting in the way (okay, lame excuse) and I’ve been letting my editing just stew. Fixing our crap is sometimes so much harder than originally spitting it out. Time to get back to carving my elephant!

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  32. Stephanie StClair says

    I’m printing this post and am going to pin it to the wall next to my computer. Great advice!

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  33. says

    How could I not read an article titled “Dare to Suck”?
    Hilarious and so right on, Keith. And yes, I fear the ending. I practically close my eyes while I write it.

    Thanks for the awesome pep talk! Now it’s BUTT IN CHAIR time thanks to your motivation. :)

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  34. says

    Dang it. I identify with all of the signs. And, like most self-diagnosis quizzes on the Internet, I think three is enough to do it–there should be a warning before it like, “If you say ‘yes’ to three or more of the following, you may have Whiny Perfectionist Writer Syndrome.”

    I swear all of my stories are brilliant until they’re actually written. I haven’t thought that I’m “not the right person to write this book,” but I have thought often that I’m not the right person /yet/. That I don’t have the skills, and maybe I should just try again in ten years when I’ve magically evolved into the genius I want to be.

    But obviously, the only way I’ll develop the skills is if I keep trying until I don’t suck anymore. It’s like grinding in a video game. You keep losing against monsters too strong to handle until you gain the experience to kill them with ease. Ten levels later, they’ll look like small fry. But you have to suffer first.

    Yes, I just extracted a life philosophy from the mechanics of RPGs. Who says video games are a waste of time? :p

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  35. Melanie Bernard says

    Great post! What stopped me in my tracks recently was trying to manipulate the story. I knew where it needed to go, and I really didn’t want my characters to go there. It seemed too horrible, too extreme, not what nice people would do.

    I wandered around in the story for MONTHS before accepting what needed to happen, and now it’s flying! Well, puttering really. I’m a slow writer. But it’s a steady putter!

    Thanks again!

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  36. Hellion says

    This blog definitely resonates with me…and I think I have a little crush on you now. :) Thanks for the pep-talk-swift-kick-in-the-backside. I appreciate your gentle, humorous bedside manner! :)

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  37. says

    Many thanks.

    At BONI-HR this spring, Don started the workshop by asking us to consider what we most feared on the page, had us write about it, then asked us how we could give that to our characters. This personal writing is another way to use the fear, or some aspect of us, to spur our fiction.

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  38. says

    I wrote a whole short xtory outline first draft today after reading this article. It’s a sucky lump of clay, but it can be pounded into a story. It went fairly easy. I think I’ll use this method more often. (short story typo)

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  39. says

    Great post! Your side note to the “perfect” writer really cracked me up! I keep seeing things like that, that say things like “If you can get perfect rough drafts written in no time, go away!” But, it got me thinking, is there ANY writer that can do that? Maybe we are just doing more harm than good by comparing ourselves to (or sending waves of hatred in the direction of) an imaginary writer that writes stunning rough drafts. So if I were to add anything to this already awesome and funny post, it would be: There is no such thing as an author who writes perfectly the first time around. And, even if there are exceptions, what is perfect by our standards probably sucks in the eyes of the “perfect” writer. So we’re pretty much all in the same boat.

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  40. says

    Thanks Keith :) Isn’t it strange how, when we tell ourselves that it is ok to suck, we never listen; but then someone else does it and it makes perfect sense?

    I also love your tip of inserting comments/notes to yourself as you write. Definitely going to do that.

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  41. says

    Fabulous and funny post. A friend and I recently went on a 5K a day challenge. No time to fear there! It was great for busting through obstacles. And during that process, I stumbled upon exactly your technique for dealing with rough spots, except I use Scrivener and highlight in yellow those things that are truly sucky, then highlight in purple those things that suck because more research is needed. It’s a great way to keep moving on, especially since the answer to the current obstacle is often written out somewhere in the next thousand words or so.

    However, I do take exception with the…er…chubby butt remark. I blame all my errors on that monster that stands behind me. Better it than my skills, eh?

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  42. says

    It also helps to have critique partners who feel free to tell you what sucks and what doesn’t, because it isn’t always what you think. They may love a scene that I really struggled over, yet come to a scene I think is great and write a ‘helpful reminder’ like “WTF is this?” I couldn’t live without my critique partners and am positive I wouldn’t have an agent if not for them! Great post, BTW!

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  43. Denise Willson says

    Write like you have nothing to lose. Because you don’t. :)

    Denise Willson
    Author of A Keeper’s Truth

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  44. says

    I really needed this post today. I’m nearing the halfway point of my WIP and feeling under the gun with summer vacation coming. Yet I’ve been stalling and whining because the plot is intense and yes, I’m scared I won’t be able to do it justice. I have a hard time just vomiting words and going back and fixing them. I tend to edit and try to layer as I go so that the first draft is at least … decent. But I’ve decided to take the leap with this book and approach it differently. I like your idea of inserting comments. Thank you so much for the post and advice. Lame, but I felt as though you were speaking to me, lol.

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  45. says

    My biggest obstacle/cause of periods of sucking is sleep deprivation.
    There are days I can push through it, but sloppy mistakes increase exponentially.

    I’m trying to learn to push through it, because a) no matter how tired I am, I’m a lousy napper, and b) if I don’t push through on days like today, I don’t get another chance to write for 48 hours because life gets in the way.

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  46. says

    Thanks for a great post, Keith. I just had an agent call me to tell me my writing was superior BUT (isn’t there always a “but”) …. I might want to change this and that. I am so grateful for her comments and now I fear I won’t be able to pull it off. Yup, just as you said – fear.
    And I’ve been writing my (not too big) ass off ever since my phone conversation with her. It’s better than sitting in front of my Mac staring at the screen. Onward and upward, Christian soldiers! I got that line from some movie.
    Patti

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  47. says

    This is exactly what I needed to read today. Thanks for taking away all of my excuses. Even published authors have trouble jumping back in sometimes.

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  48. says

    Yes! This is just what I needed to hear. I have all of those fears -and more. I’m going to put “dare to suck” up as a screensaver and have it come on if my fingers stop moving for more than 60 seconds.

    Kieth – the fear of ending is so strong in me that I’ve been working on the same novel since 2007 and I still don’t know how it ends. I’ve written lots of shorter pieces and won prizes with stories and essays, but that novel just will not end.

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  49. says

    Thanks for this post. I used to write without thinking about really, but somehow the fear (not oversimplifying it at all) sneaked in. Need to get back to just writing. And maybe I will suck, but who cares. THANKS for getting the focus back.

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  50. says

    What a great way to start the day, reading this post! You had me laughing out loud, and you were spot on! I really loved the idea of writing the comments into your work. I’ll give that a try. Thanks for inspiration.

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  51. Lisa says

    I’m too busy reading all the writing blogs in my inbox to get to sucking. I’ll suck tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.

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  52. says

    Let me take a risk of looking a bit wierd or overzealous (both of which I am at times) by saying ‘I love you.’ Your ‘Dare to Suck’ blog was just what I needed. So often I find myself feeling inept compared to most other writers, and positive I can’t plot worth a darn or be creative enouph to make French toast, but I keep going, and sometimes, not always, but sometimes it gets easier and ‘flows’ and the times it doesn’t, I do research….

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  53. says

    Suck-dom is a fearsome place to be. Thanks for this post, because sometimes I need someone to give me permission to do just that.
    I didn’t write over the weekend. Not so much as an email. My well was dry and cracked and crusted over. I just couldn’t do it…Well, I could but suck-dom was peeking at me from around the corner and I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. I guess I could chance it and make friends…
    Terrific, inspirational post!

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