Writing Secrets: You can never be perfect – but you will get better

 In Jo-Anne Richard's blog, Tips for Writers

“It’s best not to dwell on what you’ve written, wishing it could be different. We all write what we can. We do the very best we can. You might think, oh, I wish I could write like so-and-so, but you have to write like yourself.”

This quote, by American writer Judy Blume speaks to so many of us. Of course we all wish our writing could be different. Our own writing … only better.

You can’t yearn for that. It’s like longing for perfection. It leads to grief and loss. I should perhaps be preaching to myself. I have written five books, which did well. But for five years I haven’t written a thing.

I have the excuse of saying I pour my creativity day after day into other people’s work. I try to help them become writers they’d like to be.

But the truth is, I probably could carve out the space for my own writing. Creativity is like love – it’s not finite. When I think about it clearly, it seems to me that writing broke my heart.

It can do that. You want something unattainable. You can never be quite as good as you want, desperately, to be.

Yet, if you spend your life writing furiously, chasing that unattainable dream – you’ll probably end up as a great writer. I know that rationally, but for me, perhaps the emotional cost is too great. It hurts too much. Perhaps one day, though, I’ll wake up, walk to my computer, and start writing again.

I didn’t set out to write about myself in this blog. I wanted to use this space to give you advice that I know to be good. I ended up using myself as a cautionary tale.

Go on chasing that dream. You might never be satisfied, or recognise that it’s happening, but if you write enough, it will be your own writing … only much, much better.

I’ll leave the last word to Judy Blume:

“When you’re writing, you’ve got to knock the critic off this shoulder, knock the censor off this shoulder, and all those voices in your head—telling you that you suck, and nobody’s going to read what you’re writing, nobody’s going to buy it or publish it—you have to leave them outside the workspace, and get rid of them.”

Read Richard’s latest blog: ‘Monday Motivation: What being a heron can teach us about writing

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