What is the best writing advice I ever got? My advisor, Micheline Aharonian Marcom, once told me that I could take my inner editor and tell her to go away for now and that I could always invite her to come back later.
Perfection is crippling as I stumble trying to make sure each letter is in its exact right place and the words are more likely to bottle up than to flow. What I’m starting to realize is that perfectionism is a way to not trust myself—it’s saying that the work I put out into the world will never be good enough. When I take that inner editor and tell her to go away, I am trusting that I will come back and edit this work later. I am trusting that I will still remember this particular sentence felt wonky and the paragraphs need to be reversed. I am trusting that I know enough about writing now that I won’t let a bad product out the door.
I am also giving myself the space to get creative and to let my ideas flow. My writing is better when I’m not thinking about the structure of the plot as I’m writing out early drafts. I can build better worlds and flesh out my characters. The story can be bigger and smarter than I am.
So take your trusty editor (this persona is after all your friend—just trying to help you make your best work) and tell him or her to go get a cup of coffee. You’ll invite your editor back when it’s editing time. For now it’s time to sit down and create.