So the best thing about the weeks where I work on Saturday is the fact that I get Monday off. For some reason, it just feels so luxurious and relaxing and somehow more … vacation-y than the regular weekend. Maybe it’s because I get the whole house to myself, since Eric has school and his internship today, or maybe it’s because everyone else is at work, but here I am, sitting on the couch at quarter to one, and deciding whether or not I want to write or go to the library (or maybe I can write at the library? Genius!) while the cats are sleeping and the entire neighborhood is just silent. I love every third Monday, because that means I can usually catch up on my reading (I’ve read two books in the last 24 hours) and get a jump-start on my week’s writing.
I’ve really struggled lately with my writing. And by struggle I mean I’ve hardly written over the entire summer because every time I open up those files on my computer I just feel so … inadequate. Like I’m a failure. I read over every word I’ve written and I hate it. And I sit there and I can’t bring myself to type another word, because I know that I’m going to just keep on sucking. It’s discouraging and unhealthy. The other day, I realized something else: it’s stupid. I need to stop and I need to change my attitude.
I’ve gone and put most of my creative energies over the past five months into planning this wedding instead of writing, and that isn’t fair. It’s become this major time vampire that I feel like I have no control over. Sometimes I even think I hate the wedding. I hate how I second-guess (or someone else second-guesses) every decision that I make. I hate how much money and time we’re spending to focus on one day. I hate that I feel like we have to invite so many people. What if they don’t like it? What if they think we’re trying too hard, or not hard enough? What if I trip? What if I spill barbecue sauce all over Eric? All of this fear, this doubt, and these feelings of inadequacy have spilled over into every aspect of my life, including my writing. But then I think of our friends, and our families, and how this is the one time in our entire lives that all of the people we love best in the world will be in one place at the same time. I think of how special it’s going to be to share that day with everyone. And so what if I trip? I trip over everything. It won’t be worse than throwing up five times in the middle of a cheerleading competition, will it? And I managed to survive that.
I just have to stop worrying about things being perfect and about what people will think of me, and follow my heart. Things will fall into place.
I think that’s true for my writing, too.
That was what I realized this weekend, when I sat down and opened up my word document for the billionth time. And it dawned on me that the story wasn’t working right because I was trying to hard to make it perfect. To force it into being something it wasn’t. By doing that, I had started in the wrong place. I had stifled Ellie’s voice instead of letting her speak for herself.
So I opened up a new document, and I started to write.
You know what? For the first time in months, since I’ve actually decided that, yeah, I want to do this, I want to be a writer, it came naturally. I know this story. I’ve plotted and outlined. I know the best way to tell it. I know these characters. I just needed to trust myself. By the end of that hour I had over a thousand words of the best stuff I’ve ever written, and I sat back, stunned. And proud. And this morning? Yeah. I wrote another thousand words.
So here’s to forgetting about perfect.
I’m going to spend the rest of my Monday just doing my best, instead.