Friday, August 26, 2011

Let the Writing Fly Free

Last night, I met with my writers critique group. It's a small group, we're all friends, and we are always supportive of one another, even while challenging each other to sharpen our writing. It's a great arrangement, and it works very well.

So why was I so nervous last night to share my writing?

Two reasons: One, I am a recovering perfectionist who is learning to let my writing fly free, even when it's not perfect (which it will never be, no matter how good it is). And two, my best friend came along, and I suddenly got performance anxiety.

This was not my best friend's fault or responsibility at all. She's great, very supportive, and very insightful. A great addition to the group. But I suddenly felt exposed, as I do whenever I show my writing for the first time to anybody, and I started to worry that I was going to look bad. 

(Someday, I may investigate the percentage of folks in therapy who are artists in need of learning to relax and have confidence in their art. Betcha that number is quite high. Yes, I'm talking to you, Mr. Allen.)

It's interesting how writers can suffer performance anxiety over the smallest things and at the oddest times. Oh, I know it's not odd to want your best friend to tell you that you are the next Great American Writer.
I don't want to turn into this guy!

But it's not going to serve your writing if people are petting you and telling you how precious your writing is, yes, precious. (And when I say you, I am talking about me. But maybe this will speak to you also.)

So it's a good idea to stretch yourself in every way possible to become a better writer. And that stretching may include a little practice learning how to release your stories into the wild. Especially when they are drafts, and especially when you have a group of friends who can give you positive, useful, constructive feedback that will make that draft better in the long run.

So I encourage you today, based on personal experience earned over lemonade and salad yesterday, to let go of your desire for the perfect draft. Instead, take your writing and toss it into the air, like a bird that you're setting loose into the blue yonder. Let your work fly free to land where it may. You'll learn something when you do. And you'll strengthen your skin to be resilient when you release that writing into the true wild. Or as I like to call it, *wink*

Do you have trouble letting your drafts out of the pen to run free? How do you help yourself avoid that perfectionist inside? Let's share ideas!

Copyright (c) 2011 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. I have to fight the perfectionist inside - and saying that, I don't allow others to read my finished work until it's been through multiple revisions. It seems I'm better at taking criticism with plot holes, character dev't, etc. when I'm confident that most of the little things are taken care of. Good post!


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