Permission To Suck by Suzan Butler

I’m not sure what happened to my math this round, but I wound up short a sponsor.  Suzan Butler has kindly popped by with some words of wisdom for y’all!  Take it away Suz!

~*~

We all have different processes for getting things done. I’m currently between drafting books, which means I’m editing one, and brainstorming another. The hero for the one that I’m brainstorming is a secondary character in the first book, and one that readers so far have really connected with. And it helps that I’m in love with him.

Anyway, knowing this has added extra pressure. I’ve false started this book six times and all six times, I’ve gone back to brainstorming mode. I want readers to be happy with his story. I want it to be better than the first. I don’t want to let them down. And I know the pressure is going to get worse once the book is more widely available.

So far, it’s all been advance readers and reviewers putting this pressure on me, telling me that they love this character and want his story. But in one week, more people will read the first book, and then they’ll be sitting alongside reviewers chanting for his story. The pressure is just going to get worse. But I can’t find the perfect beginning. I want his story to be awesome.

I’m reminded of Mur Lafferty of the podcast I Should Be Writing. Every time I hear her say “It’s okay to suck” I think that she’s personally talking to me. I’m a perfectionist by nature. Subpar isn’t acceptable to me. I want everything to be perfect right out the gate.

Unfortunately, writing doesn’t work that way. That’s why there are revisions and edits and proofreading. Every book feels impossible to me because I want it to be perfect. Halfway through, it’s my sheer stubbornness getting me through, because I’m sitting there thinking about how crappy the draft is and how on earth I managed to finish the other books and how it just sucks and what was I thinking that I could do this.

We all have those days. Sometimes, it stretches on into weeks. But… little by little, word by word… we get that book done.

You are allowed to suck. That’s what first drafts are for. Take Inner Editor and shove that witch in a box and sit on it. Then get your laptop out, and start writing that next draft. That’s what I’m going to do. No more false starts. I can always come back. But as La Nora says, “You can’t edit a blank page.”

Are you a fast drafter or a revisionist? How do you give yourself permission to suck in order to get things done? Or are you like me and have to be reminded of it from time to time?

~*~

Suzan Butler

12 comments

  1. I’m in the middle of a first draft and am convinced that I’ve forgotten how to write. Doesn’t matter that I have completed and sold books before. Because now I completely suck and can no longer write. Ack!!!

    So…it’s nice to hear that I’m not alone in feeling this way when writing the first draft. Timely blog post, thank you!!!

  2. I have to be constantly reminded. I suffer majorly from rewriteritiss. I fight with sections of my WIP until I tell myself, “Just move on and fix it later. Get the words down.” It’s hard. I want it to be perfect before I move on. I think I will put “You Can’t Edit a Blank Page” on the wall over my monitor.

    1. I probably have a ton of unfinished manuscripts due to rewriteritis. So I get that. Totally get that. I’m learning though, that I need to finish them, and that (for me) means i need to put that perfectionist attitude aside and allow myself to write a sucky first draft.🙂

  3. This post has given me new faith… Just received the review comments on my umpteenth draft of Novel Number One from the first independent person to read it. To say that I felt like giving up, burning the manuscript and emigrating to any culture that knows nothing of the written word is an understatement. So it’s great to know that others also have those “why do I do this?” and “how will I ever make it good?” moments. I frequently need reminding that only being told what’s wrong will help to make it right.

    1. Critiques are hard. I purposely ask for harsh critiques, and still every time, I have to take a couple days to recover from reading them. I want my books to be perfect, and really, no book can hit it out of the park first time out. But I really want it to…😉

  4. Oh, yes–thank goodness for those first drafts. As one of those waiting for that second book, I’ve got my fingers crossed you love what you write–every single word. And as a huge “please remind me I don’t suck” person take my YOU DON’T SUCK and run with that ;D

  5. That is what I need to hear on a daily basis, so I can be reminded every morning to push on. I should just paint this message on my bulletin board: YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO SUCK. Because sucking at something means that at least I tried it. Too often I let Perfection get in the way of Progress + Productivity. Un-freaking-acceptible, Andi-Roo!

    (so thanks for this!)

  6. I feel as if I’m something different with every manuscript. I’ve spewed out words and then become so disheartened by all the rewriting that would be needed, I set it aside for years! Yikes. Yet, if I think too much I never write.

    So yes, I need to be reminded that it’s okay to suck, it,s just not okay (for me) to leave huge gaping holes in my manuscript!

  7. Oh wow Susan. We could be twins. lol. I do the same thing. Only sometimes I take months, not weeks to get it right. Shoot me now and take me out of my misery. So thank you for the reminder that it’s okay to suck. I’m in good company I see.🙂

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