alternate title: "You Can't Edit What Isn't There" I had a big moment yesterday which I would like to share. I have not written regularly in a few years. My two weeks of vacation began Friday Dec. 18th and I decided to dedicate this holiday period to resuming my writing life. So yesterday I went to my desk and turned on the computer and pulled up my half-finished novel to begin reading over it to refresh myself. As I read over my story it felt kinda foreign to me. I couldn't 'feel' the story like I once did back when I was constructing those chapters originally. This discouraged me a bit, but I kept sitting there, determined to exercise discipline over myself and at least remain in the chair, so I may at least accomplish that if nothing else! I tried to figure what to do as I reread some of my rough scenes. When I looked over my outline it seemed foreign to me too. I pondered starting an altogether new story just to kickstart myself. As I sat there considering ditching this novel for a new project, I had on my screen the brief opening of a short scene, one I had left unfinished years ago. It was just a few sentences of a guy walking into a restaurant. Out of frustration I told myself 'just fill in the nuts and bolts of what happens in this scene then click save, so at least you can say you did something today.' So I just started typing, very basic, uninspired, just to get the character moving around in the setting since I did remember what he was supposed to do. (the 'beat' of the scene, as we say in screenwriting) It wasn't sexy, I wasn't feeling anything about the stuff I was typing while I was typing it, but I knew logically what was to come next so I just kept adding the next thing, then the next thing, and so on. Before I realized it I had 1,100 words. (these are brand new words from scratch, which never existed before I sat down yesterday) As a tiny bonus for me, within these 1,100 words was a new element to the scene which I had never thought of before, something that was never in my original concept, it just popped up as I was typing out "what happens next, what happens next, and next." I wasn't even aware how long this all took, probably about two hours. When I came to a stopping point I left home to go walk the track, and that is when the epiphany hit me: It dawned on me that this is what they mean when they say 'you can't edit nothing'. (a phrase I have heard for years, and never got until now) The exact words I told myself as I began 'just typing the actions in the scene' were "first drafts are not meant to be perfect anyway, so get down the 'what' occurring in the scene then if it needs spicing up or tweaking you can come back and do that later." And, moreover, "you can't know what's missing until you read over it later, anyway. Duh" (That would be like trying to count the missing people during a fire drill BEFORE the alarm sounds, lol) IOW the writer can't 'pre-visualize' the missing elements to add them in before hand. By definition, they can't be missing until something has first been written and they are noticed as absent. Anyway... Back to Keep Typing Anyway Even When You Aren't Feeling Anything: By forcing myself to get down SOMETHING, just anything, I inadvertently started the mechanism rolling that fills in the gaps, the ones I can't think of in advance. I have always been a 'mood writer' and I think yesterday I learned the folly of that. By just starting to type, I filled in the scene with confidence that I can peek at it later to see what I may want to add, or change. This is extremely empowering for me because it relieves me of my 'perfectionism' mindset of wanting to know the BEST RIGHT thing to get down in the scene. So instead now I will just type away, and fix it later. (if it needs fixing) Yep, I think that's the main strength of 'you can't edit nothing' is that it slays one's perfectionism, and gives you permission to make mistakes, maybe to even feel good about your mistakes. So I learned my lesson for good. I will no longer be a 'must be in the mood' writer. I vow to write anyway, even if I am not 'feeling' anything about it. I can see this "just get typing" method can be a huge confidence builder.