Sunday, March 31, 2013

Just Take It Bird By Bird...

I have read many books on writing, as a way to procrastinate the actual writing part of writing a book.  Some of them were a complete waste of time.  Others were pure gold and I would like to share one of those treasures with you all today.

If you are like me and feel you would almost rather throw yourself in front of a bus than face the overwhelming fear of rejection and failure in your writing, you should read this book.  It speaks to the insecurities in all of us as writers and as people.  The book is called Bird by Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott.

Front Cover   

What I love most about this book is that there is an entire chapter called "Shitty First Drafts" and the next chapter is "Perfectionism".  The most difficult obstacle I have faced in my writing and still struggle with today is the fear.  The overwhelming anxiety that I am not good enough and have no business pretending to be.  I'm not sure if I've alluded to my personality enough here, (I've probably beaten you over the head with it by now) but to shorten a very long laundry list of quirks, I am a perfectionist.  Through the course of finding my voice as a writer, I have come to the realization that perfectionism is a distraction from reality.  It's like a blindfold that prevents you from seeing the truly marvelous mess of life.  Somewhere down the line, I made the very convoluted decision that the possibility of failure was much too scary and not even worth the effort it takes to put myself out there.  Miss Lamott explains it much better than I do:

"Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people.  It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.  I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won't have to die.  The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they're doing it."

She goes on in more detail, but I'll let you discover it for yourselves in the book.  This mindset is so detrimental to achieving success as a writer, and I continue to fight it on a daily basis.  If you have even the tiniest bit of self-doubt, which a lot of writers do, check out this book.  It might change your perspective.  At the very least, it will give you valuable insight on writing and life.  Happy Easter, everyone!