Caught In A Moment? Erase Later.
This post is for my facebook friend Dawn. Thanks for the tip, my friend.
I played soccer in high school. Left-midfield because I am left-handed and naturally left-footed. Built for endurance, I could run, I could set a pace and stick with it forever, another player forever, and I kind of liked to steal the ball, too.
I remember the field of grass with the white painted lines, me staring straight ahead at the goal post at the far end as I shadowed a girl from the opposite team, pushing forward with her. The crowd roared, the bodies a blur in the bleachers to the side, and the ref stuck it out somewhere close by, ready to stop the game if anyone broke a rule.
My foot darted between a pair of legs and snagged the ball away, with me turning and rushing fast, ahead of the girl even faster, and I plowed.
I didn’t stop to think, did I run the right way? Maybe I should have cut to the right instead of the left—or pulled the ball back and spun in instead of out. The picture is in your mind. You know the goal and you move toward it in the game. If you second guess yourself before you move, then you might not get moving and miss your chance.
Writing and soccer are sort of the same—in principle anyway.
You see this picture in your head, you know your plot points and you’ve developed your characters so well you practically live them. If you stop yourself, hung up on a word before you finish a chapter, and most importantly the story, the momentum might fall and the picture begins to fade away.
A first draft is a field of grass with a goal at the end. Your fingers are the instrument, pushing the keys or the pencil and you move, flying with your ideas and writing straight ahead. You could stop to revise your word choice, but just like the game, with a first draft, it’s best to keep writing. Mistakes will happen and there’s always time to fix them when you’re done. Also like the game, you can’t always go back and see the picture as clearly as you did the first time.
I have two tips today, useful ones you could apply to any activity you love to do. First, don’t stop your flow, and two, make mistakes. It’s the intention that matters and mistakes are ways to learn and grow once you’re done in the moment. So keep going, let loose, and don’t be afraid to let yourself get caught up in the moment and the feel of the world around you. You can always find your way back.