In my last post, I wrote about the process I’m going through right now of totally re-writing a story that I first wrote almost nine years ago, and that got me to thinking about a common trap that writers fall into (and I’m as guilty as anyone).
Writers, especially new ones, often have a story, the story, that they want to write but which they hold off on because they feel that they aren’t good enough yet to do their story, their perfect, precious story-baby, justice. This is a noble thought, sort of. Except that if you can’t write any of your stories now because you’re not good enough, there’s no way for you to put in the work to get good enough.
I feel like this idea often comes out of some strange belief that once you write your story, that’s it: there’s nothing left to do. But that isn’t true at all. Writing the story down is often just the first step in what can be quite a long process of edits and re-tooling, if not re-writing altogether.
There’s nothing to stop you from revisiting a story, even years later. Sometimes you’ll write something, and it just won’t quite work. Maybe you can’t figure out what the problem is, or maybe you know exactly what the problem is and know that you don’t have the skill to fix it right then, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to fix it later.
So if you’ve got that story that you don’t think you can write yet because it needs to be perfect, maybe instead just give it your best shot now. It might not be perfect, but you won’t be able to see where it isn’t working until you’ve gotten it down.
Hopefully it won’t take you nine years to get back to it.