Sometimes you have to plant your butt in the chair, put fingers to keyboard and start typing. That’s how this installment of #500words started but it didn’t last long. After 436 words I decided the world would be better off if those 436 words never saw the light of day. Select all, delete. Boom. I’m the only human who ever had to encounter that pile of dung. Now if I could just figure out how to apologize to myself. I’m afraid I’d get caught in a do-loop that would break the space/time continuum so I’ll just move on.
I don’t see the time I spent typing out those 436 words as wasted. 6 months ago I would have. I don’t know why, but it took me a long time to grasp the value of a shitty first draft. There was disconnect in my brain that kept me from realizing no one else was going to see it. I checked and there’s not a hidden camera behind me streaming what I’m writing. Nothing I write ever goes out unless I edit send. So I should learn to celebrate how much my first draft sucks.
This is way different from public speaking. When you suck as speaker it’s out there forever. For instance, I’m sure the audio tapes of my first sermons are tucked away in a box somewhere.
Side note: If you know where those tapes are and ever play them, I’ll kill you. Call me and I’ll pick them up and have a great time burning them in my fire pit. Now back to the difference between speaking and writing.
I’ve been speaking for so long, my muscle memory is to panic as I write. Is this any good? Is it coherent? Have I made a circular argument?
Before you say anything, yes I do write out and plan what I’m going to say in talks or sermons. I do practice them. Out loud. But there’s still something unnerving about speaking out loud. It feels like you can never take it back once it leaves your mouth and that’s true you can’t.
Writing offers a much bigger safety net. With writing I can review and revise thoughts. I can see the flaw in my logic. If there’s a confusing sentence, I can un-confuse it. Essentially the only way I should ever publish bad writing is because I was too lazy to edit until all of the suck is removed.
I know all of this sounds elementary my dear watson, as my favorite literary character Sherlock Holmes would say, but it’s a big deal to me. It shows I’m making progress. I’m thinking of myself as a writer. Doing things writers do and thinking like a writer.
The idea that I’d throw away 436 words and not feel like a failure is a giant step. Back in the day, I’d have spiraled into a session of yelling at myself like a crappy coach used to. “You suck!”, “What are you doing?”, “You’re wasting my time”. But not today.
And you got to see it happen. Aren’t you glad you’re following this journey?