In writing, as with many creative pursuits, I am convinced that MORE is MORE. What I am not saying is that more writing always equals better writing. What I am saying is that more writing makes a better writer.
When I was taking classes in grad school, the professor told a story that forever changed how I value the creative process. An pottery teacher split her class down the middle, and graded one half on the quality of their best work for the year. The other half was to be graded based on the …this part is a little hard to believe but stay with me… the weight of what they created. What shocked me about this experiment, and what still rankles my inner perfectionist today, is that MOST of the best work was on what I’ll confess I think of as the sloppy side. The students concerned with volume, were free to experiment, to learn, and to play.
It was disconcerting for me to learn that artistic creativity was not a place where the old expression “LESS is MORE” applies. Old habits die hard, and I am still working to waste less and less of my energy taking refuge in the perfectionist idea that I’ll share it when I am “finished” writing it. Or that I will begin writing when I am “finished” thinking it through.
In her book Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott writes:
Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper. What I’ve learned to do when I sit down to work on a shitty first draft is to quiet the voices in my head
This too, is part of my lesson to learn while moving, rather than sitting and waiting for the answers to come. And if I share along the way, I open myself up to all kinds to readers messaging with unique contributions, insightful questions, and helpful suggestions.
Even as I am writing this, I am battling against the idea that I can post this without first learning the name of the pottery teacher. But I have reached out to Loren Wilkninson, who first told me the story, and perhaps HE will remember.
My challenge to myself and to you for this year, is to write everyday, or at least everyday that you can. I am not expecting that all of my work will be award winning, but I am hoping to write more quality on volume than on perfectionism. Let’s find out!