I’ve just had a weekend that felt overly full of writing. I had an essay I’d written that I knew wasn’t right. There were good sentences, good images, good ideas within it, but none of them clicked exactly how they needed to. My words felt too simple, my thoughts. . . not profound enough. (Though there’s no rule that everything you write must be profound). I wanted to simply say what had happened at a certain time in my life when I needed to stop and slow down, to be aware. But I was caught up in something—in the moment I was writing about, and also when I was writing! Perhaps, in both scenarios—the living of it, and the writing of it—I was afraid to simply live, to let bygones be bygones and people to be people. Living fully means loving yourself fully, and letting yourself love and be loved by others. This living—it includes mess-ups. It is good, and healthy, to mess up. I’m learning to do it more and more everyday.
Anyway. Read a few of my thoughts (below), on obsessing about something in your writing. It’s good to obsess. But you can’t let it own you.
Let off of it. Let it go. Let yourself obsess, overwork, overwrite, overthink and over-pursue this thing which is driving you crazy. Think about this “thing” all day, and as you stare at the computer, working at understanding and spelling out this “thing.” Always, this thing will be at the front of your mind. Write—work—obsess, until you can’t anymore. Until you’re sick of it.
Let it go. Wait until you want it again—the work of writing. The thing. Then go back, re-read, rethink. Look at what you’ve written from a distance, as if it wasn’t even yours. See what is there and say yes to parts, and no to others. Take a red pencil and draw through the lines that distract from what that image was in your head—the image drove you. It’s time to let it drive someone else.
Wait another week. Look at it again. Then another time.
Then put it out there. Let it go. See what happens.