Don’t get it right, get it written. When I Tweeted this little phrase today, it was favourited straight away. Evidently it rang a little bell with a few people like it did with me. I’m not even sure where I heard it first as it has been tattooed into my writing brain for so many years now. Browsing blogs and Tweets I find it reassuring that there are so many others like me who would happily spend hours staring out of the window letting my mind chew over and consider plot twists and character consistency. But as important as this is, it is more vital to get the words down on the page.
There is another quote with a similar sentiment doing the rounds on Twitter at the moment from Norah Roberts: You can’t edit a blank page. That little gem is going to get lodged in my head too and rightly so.
Both these phrases remind me that the clue to being a writer is in the name: you have to actually write something at some point. In my limited experience of properly writing ie committing to finishing something rather than diddling around with lots of half finished ideas and scraps of stories, I have yet to write anything that is totally useless.
Readers of my blog will know that I hold down a full time job and have two daughters so time for getting those words down on a page is limited and mainly consists of being squashed in a train seat with just a half hour journey to create some magic. Under these challenging circumstances I make myself write something every day because I have to. And with a half hour journey I don’t have the luxury of being able to stare. I have to get my head down and get the hell on with it. So I do. I have had my thinking time the previous evening or in the morning as I am smearing on the make up or driving to the station. I know exactly where to stand on the platform so I will get a seat. The train doors shut, the ipad is out and I’m off.
More often than not it is an effort. The words don’t flow, I am not in the mood, I am not immersed in the story, someone incredibly large is sat next to me taking up all the room, I am sure the person standing beside me is reading over my shoulder. But I push on regardless finding comfort in the fact that those words are mounting up.
And when I come to edit later I am almost always surprised with something that has scurried from my brain through my fingers and onto the screen. There is usually some little gem, a great phrase, a powerful piece of dialogue, a plot point that had not occurred to me before. I can always salvage something from my half hour purge. It is rarely wasted and bit by bit my second book is getting itself written. Without those forced half hour bursts it would still be swishing around in my head.
Which is why I love the sentiment behind Don’t get it right, get it written and You can’t edit a blank page. In my view they are the only way to get anything done.