Sometimes, I think I’m married to the smartest man alive. Don’t tell him that, of course. I’d never hear the end of it if he knew I thought that, even sometimes.
It’s true, nevertheless. I’ve taken up an attempt at knitting the last day or so. I’ve known how to do very basic crochet since I was a youngster, but the two hands needed for knitting have always looked sort of formidable to me. However, I took the plunge, bought some needles and yarn and looked up a pattern and some videos on the internet.
The attempt … has not gone very well.
I was ready to give up. Until my husband said something that I realized applies not only to knitting, but to just about anything. He said (and I’m paraphrasing here):
If you know ahead of time that you’re going to suck, then you might as well go ahead and suck. That frees you up to do just about anything you can think of with it. You don’t have to worry about trying to be great anymore. That’s the power of kamikaze. Why do you think it always worked?
Putting aside the statistical impossibility of kamikaze “always” working, he does, in fact, have a point. It’s rather freeing to think that, whatever you do, it’s bound to be terrible. Because then you don’t have to worry about being perfect.
What was it about kamikaze fighters that made them so formidable? I think it was the fact that they were willing to do anything – even die – to accomplish their goal. Are you willing to do that for your writing?
Not die, of course – because to die with stories untold would be a terrible waste. But are you prepared to get up early or stay up late to get those words on paper? Are you okay with skipping a shower or leaving those dishes to languish in the dishwasher for another day? Can you give up one hour of TV to dedicate it to accomplishing your goal?
Translated into your writing, kamikaze also means that you shouldn’t worry about always doing the correct thing every time. It means not every word has to be perfect on the page. Not every idea has to be ultra original or have layers of meaning. Being terrible actually sounds rather like a good idea to me.
It means you don’t have to worry about always showing instead of telling. It means you can feel free to use things that don’t make sense. Purple bunnies? Check. A kick-ass female lead who doesn’t fall in love with the male lead? Got it. How about the oldest trope in the book? (Farm-boy-turned-king who saves the world, anyone?) Go ahead and use it.
Have fun with it. Write crap. Being perfect is over-rated anyway.
I’ll leave you with a quote (the source of which I am no longer clear on, as it’s been with me for quite some time):
To be perfect, simply: say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.
I’ll tell you truly – I’d rather be crappy than nothing. How about you?