Writing Affirmation: I regret nothing I write

All too often when beginning authors think about what they’re writing, they scowl and wonder why they even bother. Their writing, they surmise, is horrible – poor cadence, clunky dialogue, dull plotting, etc., etc., etc.

If that sounds like you, don’t be guilty of “third-eyeing” your writing. “Third-eyeing” is a term I borrowed from Hollywood acting coach Warner Loughlin; she advises her acting students not to “watch” their your own work as they give a performance. This only makes them self-conscious and so they second guess themselves. Likewise, authors shouldn’t “watch” your own writing of a novel or a short story as writing it; doing so means you’re criticizing a story before it’s even completed! There are still revisions to be made, after all.

Instead, just allow yourself to write, to be in the moment. If you finding yourself slipping into third-eyeing, remind yourself that you just want to enjoy the act of writing for its own sake.

Of course, realistically there likely are some issues with your novel or short story. But during the writing of the first draft – or even the second or third or fourth draft – is not the time to fret about them. Each draft is just like learning to walk; you didn’t walk perfectly on the first step you took, but with each successive attempt, you improved. Making a mistake, falling, and getting back up was part of the learning process. In much the same way, the low quality of what you’ve written and the work you put in to obtain that clunker is important, as it gives you the skills necessary to write a better book with less effort.

The time to analyze your writing for areas that need to be corrected is after you’ve written the draft. That’s when you proofread and write notes to yourself like, “Use active voice in this sentence,” “Tighten this dialogue,” and “Refocus scene so main character is trying to overcome obstacle.” Then start your next draft without third-eyeing yourself as rewriting that sentence, conversation or scene.

In short, when writing, don’t be afraid to stumble – just get up afterward!