Lemme tell you a story about a boy named Ced – Spivy.
His name was Spivy.
Spivy wrote novels. Spivy wrote lots of novels. By age thirteen, Spivy had penned 14 glorious novels ~ every one of them handwritten in various composition and five-subject notebooks.
Now, Spivy was pretty damn proud of himself. He knew, without a doubt, that his 1950’s international spy trilogy would get him a publishing contract. He could see it now: SPIVY ~ THE 13-YEAR-OLD BESTSELLING AUTHOR(!!!)
Then one day, he found a book. A how-to book. One on writing. Years later, Spivy would not remember, for the life of him, which how-to book it was. But it promised to make him a better writer, and damn if that wasn’t appealing. He could use a few pointers. I mean, he was already the best goddamn writer that ever existed, yo, but everyone could always be better. At least, that’s what he heard.
So he read the book. He read it twice.
He looked, for a moment, at his fantabulous 1950’s international spy trilogy. Then again at the how-to book. And a horrible realization dawned on him.
Spivy’s magnum opus was pure, unadulterated garbage. Complete horse poo! His stories ~ his beloved stories ~ read like a monkey penned them. No, not a monkey. A story penned by a monkey would’ve been cool in its own right. These lousy stories read like a thirteen-year-old wrote them. A sheltered, home-schooled thirteen-year-old who had absolutely no idea how basic storytelling worked!
Young Spivy became discouraged. So discouraged, in fact, that he never wrote again and everyone died.
Okay, the last part was an exaggeration: Spivy did write again. He wrote with such fervor that he ended up burying himself in notebooks and binder paper with little end result. He found himself lacking. Everything he wrote was crap. So he fell into a slump littered with unfinished projects and buckets of self-pity.
The poor, pathetic schmuck.
The reason I bring up Spivy’s tragic story is to highlight the biggest mistake a writer can make. And this mistake is not trusting oneself.
Go crazy. Let it flow. Keep all ports open. Make it suck. I am giving you my explicit permission to compose the suckiest writing you’ve ever produced. My blessing, even. Here:
* CEDILLO’S BLESSING *
GOOD FOR ONE SHITTY PROJECT
Take it. Then go out there and write. Allow the creative side of your brain to really make a mess of things. Do it with the knowledge that you have a secret weapon that will put everything back into place.
The fact of the matter is, you’re a writer. Better than that, you’re a reader. You know good writing from bad. You know, deep down, when something doesn’t work. Hold on to that. Keep it locked up in the back of your mind while Creativity has all the fun in the sandbox. Then, when playtime is over and the sandbox is a hellhole, bring out your Inner Critic.
It’s a complicated dance between left brain and right. The trick is learning to trust that everything will be okay in the end. Believe in yourself. Believe in your own inherent talent. Run wild knowing that, after the fun, you’ll carefully clean yourself up again. The result will be some of the best writing you’ve ever produced. I promise. Trust me.
2 thoughts on “The Worst Mistake a Writer Can Make”
You have a gift! I’m thoroughly enjoying your humor and your content, and I can’t wait to see what new things you create. You have excellent advice and a great voice.
I relate to your story, only the writing how-to books made me fall out of love with the craft, and I spent a long time not bothering to write out of despair. Recently, I chucked the book and decided to write the worst (and I mean the most hilariously bad) poetry and short stories on the planet as an exercise, and suddenly I started to enjoy writing again. If you can write like nobody’s watching and then edit it later, you’ll be set.
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Yeah, the hardest learning lesson for me has been how to write carelessly. My inner critic gets a little critique happy waaay too early in the game. 🙂 Thank you so much, and kudos on hilariously bad poetry! (Which, truth be told, can be pretty awesome poetry too.)