Have you ever read a story and been left with questions, questions about why something happened or why a character did something?
As a writer, uncovering these questions early is bittersweet. I’ve got time to correct them and fill the plot holes, but, sometimes it can hinder the writing process. I’ve run into just that issue very early on in my latest project (only a few hundred words in, in fact).
My story opens with a scavenging team going into an abandoned city. But, seeing as how this team is part of a society that lives off the land and shuns most technology and advancement, it begs the question what they are scavenging for, and why?
I’ve also been mulling over the question of why those who live in virtual reality are so hated by the society that lives off the land. In theory, they would have no contact at all, so why the animosity? Maybe it’s just because they have different views, that would be human enough.
I often allow myself to use these outstanding questions as an excuse not to write. I don’t want to get so far into the story with unresolved issues that will present themselves in significant ways later. It’s something I’m working on, letting go of the idea of immediate perfection. It’s not how things work in life, it’s not how things work in creating, either.
I got used to near-perfect first drafts in college, and I confess it’s been a hard habit to break, letting go of the way I first write things and allowing myself the freedom to make changes. It’s difficult, as well, to allow myself to freedom to admit that there’s room for improvement.
If there’s nothing else I accomplish this year in my writing, this freedom to embrace bad writing and to embrace improvement are the two things, inextricably linked as they are, that I’m anxious to cultivate this year, and not just in writing. I want to reach a point where I’m able to extend grace to myself. Most people don’t expect perfection from me (except when I’m at work, I suppose. I think I must have a quota of mistakes I’m allowed.), so I don’t need to demand it from myself.
There’s no need for shame at not being perfect, or even good, at something the first time. That’s the beauty of growth and the beauty of grace. And even while I work to build my self-discipline to write on a regular basis, I’ll work to build my outflow of grace and not beat myself up over my crappy writing or my lack of energy or inspiration. I’ll challenge myself to write, and be gracious with myself when I’m not able to.