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Racontesse Musings... Struggling to start, struggling to stop

Procrastination is a curse and perfectionism is a grind.

Have you ever sat staring out of the window knowing there's something you want to do, but you just can't seem to drag yourself away from the freedom of daydreaming? If you're a human being, I bet this is quite a regular occurrence. If you're writer it can feel like an exhausting fight between wanting a quiet life and being harassed by that nagging need to write.

For me just opening a new document breaks the curse. Once it's open, I type – anything relevant to get started. The quality doesn't matter. It's just a string of notes that represent the greater whole. Banish your guilt. Daydreaming is an integral part of creativity – it's where your brain coalesces nonsense into product.

Where I struggle is the first complete draft. It's a torturous grind. I accept the first draft will be total rubbish. First drafts are just to get everything down, everything in your brain out onto the page. But it's just so bloody difficult – akin to crawling across the desert without water or any hope of imminent rescue. Scene after scene, I go through the same battle every time, "Why! Why! Why am I doing this to myself!" And then one day after traversing hot sands it exists.

I love editing. It's fun, it's playful and joyous. It's where the raw clay, pulled into shape, finally lives. Working with an editor, your trusted ally at arms you work, draft after draft until your story is the best it can be. But when do you stop? There's always a temptation to keep going back. A sneaky midnight peek, just to make sure the reader will understand, that the story is doing the work you intended it to do.

It's essential to trust yourself and your editor. Put the keyboard down and walk away. If you don't it could send you mad. Did I use too many 'buts ', does that sentence have one too many clauses, have I perfected it yet? No. It's never going to be perfect and what does perfection mean anyway – it's subjective. Once the final proof read has been done, I never look at my stories again. I wouldn't be that cruel to myself.

You have no control over how anyone reacts to what you do, so let your work go and let it live in the world without you.

Sarah Gray

13 June 2020

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