I won't tell you how late I was up last night working on a crochet pattern for my Etsy shop. (If you'd like to check it out, here's a link.) That's the downside to designing patterns: you need pictures of the finished product, so you still have to make one! I kept saying to myself, "I'll just get to this part, and then I'll go to bed." Well, I kept changing the finish line as I got more excited about what I was creating. Thus, it was way later than it should have been before I finally followed through and went to sleep.
Popular culture gives us a stereotype of artists of all kinds slaving away long into the night, sacrificing themselves for their masterpieces. If we try that in real life, we quickly realize that that's not a great idea. Sure, we may get what I call the "artist's high" from our accomplishments, but that doesn't help much when we're falling asleep in our cereal the next morning.
Interestingly, though, we often do something similar as writers. We cross out or delete and rewrite something five, ten, fifty, or however many times, trying to get it just right before we move on to the next part. Some of us are more prone to it than others. (Guilty.)
One of my English professors called these people "bleeders." Perhaps she was referencing this quote attributed to writer Gene Fowler:
"Writing is easy; all you do is sit staring at the blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead."
But take it from your friendly, extremely accident-prone (with the scars to prove it) neighborhood editor:
Bleeding is overrated.
Of course we want our writing to be the best it can be. It's in our nature as writers. But you can't make something better if it's stuck in your head.
For that matter, neither can I.
One of my editor friends once told me about an incident in which she was trying to edit a paper for a roommate. They were discussing something in the paper but not understanding each other, and this exchange ensued:
Roommate (frustrated): "[Friend's name]! Why can't you read my thoughts?"
Friend: "I am reading your thoughts. Just not the ones you're thinking right now."
Roommate (less frustrated): "Touché."
My point is to just get the words on paper or on the screen. It's okay if you sound ridiculous. No one ever has to see your first draft. But once you have something written down, you can play with it, massage it, whip it into shape, and even step away from it and let your subconscious handle it for a while. You can rinse and repeat as many times as necessary.
And then you can give it to me so I can help you make it even better. 😁 Click on "Services Offered" at the top of the page to find out how.
(Thanks to Thomas Park for sharing their work on Unsplash.)