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The Write Question is a weekly video podcast all about writing. Today’s question? How do you write more brilliantly? If you have a question you’d like me to answer you can email me, tweet me @pubcoach, or leave a message for me at the Skype account, The Write Question.
How do you write more brilliantly? That’s the topic I’m addressing today in The Write Question. I’m Daphne Gray-Grant, the Publication Coach.
I have a question from Patricia Cannon, a writer based in Richland, Washington. Here’s what she’s asked by email…
“I could not get started writing today. I kept thinking ‘I have to write something brilliant,’ so of course that completely stopped me. Do you have any suggestions?”
Thanks for your question Patricia. I’ve had other people describe exactly the same problem to me before. In fact, I’ve even thought it before, myself.
As writers, we get caught in the idea of wanting to be good, successful, worthwhile, famous — brilliant, really — and anything short of that outcome makes us feel we’ve been wasting our time.
Why would we spend a couple of hours working on our blog or our book if we couldn’t be certain that what we were writing was going to be excellent?
To answer this question, let me ask you to look at other areas of your life. For example, would you fail to cook yourself dinner because you didn’t know the dinner was going to be absolutely superb?
Would you refuse to talk to a friend because you didn’t know the conversation was going to be life-changing?
Would you decline to go shopping unless you knew you were going to be able to find absolutely the best, most perfect version of whatever it is you needed to buy?
I’m betting you’ve answered ‘no’ to all of those questions.
Why? We understand our normal lives would be utterly insupportable if we made such demands of ourselves. As well, we know it’s just about impossible to figure out what ‘best’ or ‘perfect’ or ‘brilliant’ means, because it’s a subjective judgement that’s going to be different for every person. In fact, it’s even going to be different for you at different times in your life.
So, don’t set yourself up for failure with your writing. Instead of giving yourself the goal of being able to write more brilliantly, focus only on the number of words you’re going to write that day.
Patricia, it’s important to understand that brilliant writing never comes from the writing. It comes from the editing. If you want to help yourself write more brilliantly, the best way to do so is by becoming a diligent self-editor. But DON’T do that while you’re writing. (See link in the show-notes to my post on how to break the habit of editing while you write.)
Keep reminding yourself that your ONLY job when writing is to produce words — as many of them as possible. Some will be good. Some will be bad. But you’ll have the opportunity to edit them later.
Finally, let me wrap up with the words of martial artist Bruce Lee: “Simplicity is the key to brilliance.”
Patricia, I share Bruce Lee’s idea that we’re all better off when we focus on simplicity. So, let me make this as simple as possible: Quality is not something you should be concerned about when you’re writing. Think about quality later, when you’re editing.
Viewers, if you have any writing-related questions, I’d be happy to do a video on them. Just send me a quick email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or put a note in the comments section of this YouTube video.
And, if you’d like to learn more about how to make your writing a happier and more rewarding process, check out my latest book Your Happy First Draft. I don’t sell it in bookstores or via Amazon. The only place to buy it is on my website, link on the screen below and in the show notes.