Here’s the thing: I write fiction pretty damn slowly. My average pace is about 500 words per hour and it seems to be getting worse. You’d think after nearly 20 books that I’d be getting faster, not slower, but that’s not what seems to be happening.
Now maybe it’s just this one book. Maybe it’s just the last few stories I’ve chosen to write. But I don’t think so. These stories haven’t been the kind of stories that push me into new places as a writer. So the only thing I’m left with is the worry that perfectionism has gotten hold of me again, and that I’m having trouble recognizing it in the moment.
I came across an article today that expressed really well how I’ve been feeling: Write FAST and Furious! Learning to Outrun “The Spock Brain”.
What I particularly liked about the article was that it helped me see that I’ve started holding back in my story. I’ve kind of felt it a few times in this book and another that I worked on a few weeks ago, but I thought, nah, I’m just having second thoughts…
But truly, it isn’t second thoughts so much as fear. Honest to God, flat-out fear that a particular angle I’d taken on something in the book might offend someone.
I really need to think about that for a while, because that’s not the kind of writer I want to be and I’ve always told myself I don’t let other people in my head when I write. Turns out it might not be true.
Here’s the quote that gave me this realization:
Many writers hold back emotionally when writing. Why? They aren’t going fast and hard and so Spock takes over and he wants us to use a seatbelt and our blinkers. He isn’t the guy you want in charge if you’re going for the GUTS and breaking bones.
Spock Brain is a perfectionist and wants us to take our time, make sure we follow all the rules and put the commas in the right spot. He’s seriously uncomfortable with “suspending disbelief” and he tries to explain everything so others don’t get confused.
It probably helped enormously that I’m a die-hard Star Trek fan, and I’m particularly obsessed with ST:AOS and ST:TOS right now. So this article kind of hit me at the right time with the right message using the right metaphor. ;)
However or whyever—that article gave me something to mull over.
And that brings me to this: I’m going to start trying to train myself to write faster.
Step 1: Accept that I want to write faster and believe that it’s possible.
I know I can write faster if I just let myself.
It’s time to put Spock to bed for a while. I’ll just put Bones in there to keep him company while I use Kirk to get this book of mine moving again. ;)