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Personal Writing Habits of a Novice Writer

Originally written in 2021 as I was trying to discover who I was as a writer

I think as writers we spend the majority of our constructive time attempting to overcome our own personal and professional daily struggles with writing. For me, writing has become one of those cathartic practices I use to work through emotions I may not be able to process otherwise.

The daily and recurrent struggle I have is that I continue to place my writing in a concrete box that allows for no fluidity. I have always read books that appear structured and follow a very defined guideline; what I did not consider was that they were possibly, at a time, just as messy and unruly as my writing is. I have to allow myself the flexibility to write freely and then go back to tidy it up after the deed is done. I don’t believe I am ever going to discover my full potential as a writer unless I can let go of the reins and “just write”.



After reading some of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and a few of the author's interviews from Novel Ideas, it puts me a little more at ease to know I am not the only perfectionist in this field.

In Bird by Bird, Anne stated “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 am truly insane! I have rewritten the first chapter to my first draft nearly a dozen times at this point. I can’t seem to stop critiquing or revising it. I had just assumed I need to stick to a guideline so I don’t lose track of where I intend the story to go. I had also been told by an editor once how I need to have at least twenty pages of notes before I start a draft, so it isn’t all over the place.

Larry Brown basically says that is horseshit. He stated in Novel Ideas , “I don’t know who any of the major characters are going to be. People just pop up, and some of them turn out to be minor characters and some of them turn out to be major characters. That’s why I never use an outline. I usually don’t even have any notes.”

My goal moving forward is to just let go and write. Let it be messy. Let is not make sense. Let it be unorganized. My creativity has been stifled for so long, I just need to let it out and see what it can do. I need to find out what it is that gives me the urge to write, exacerbate it and let it breathe. I may even surprise myself with the things that end up on my page.

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. Anne Lammot - Bird by Bird

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