Friday, February 13, 2009

Give it a rest, Ma!

“Is that blouse starched and pressed, missy? Sit still now, we got company in the parlour, and I gotta git you presentable. Stop fidgeting, honey, and let me get that cowlick mashed down. Oh, lord, there’s something sticky on your patent leather, holt still a minute while I polish it up. NO, you cain’t go outside and play with cousin Walter, he’s got his mud shovel and he’s flinging dirt as fast as a dog digging under a fence. NO, you cain’t play with your Sludge & Goop chemistry set, neither, I don’t know what Nana was thinking when she give you that. Awright, stand up straight now and go on in there. Ya’ll ready now? OK. Everybody’s a’watchin. Go ahead now, sugar, and say something purty!"

Are these the kind of expectations you put on your writing? Does everything you write have to be “purty” and “presentable”? Don’t it make you just want to wither up and die?

Give your self a break from perfectionism. It’s a certain death knell for creativity. It’s too much pressure to perform. Writers need to spend a good deal of time just playing with words and language. Remember why you started writing in the first place? How a certain turn of phrase took your breath away, set you to wailing, or made you laugh so hard that it hurt? Sometimes language is so delicious, you just want to wallow in it. That’s what you need to do at least a little bit every day; wallow, frolic, snort around in it. When there is no pressure to be “Great”, your deepest creativity feels safe enough to poke its’ head up and join you, because the “nasty critic” is off duty and writing is actually fun. Then, when you are sitting down to produce something “presentable”, your creative voice will be available for you– and not in a grudging way, but full of joy and ready to breathe life into your writing.

So, go and play, now. You hear me? Write the way kids finger paint – all gloppy and with all the colors. This is supposed to be fun!


  1. I'll be right over, mud shovel slung over my shoulder.

    Faye Quam Heimerl

  2. Yeah. I love when you write "snort around in it" like a prized truffle pig. Very cute and inspiring. Namaste....

  3. hahahahhahahah
    PS that's my was of saying I LOVE IT!!!!