Hi, I’m Jessica’s Creativity and today I’m talking about words.
There are very few words I hate.
Most words have their uses, like ‘snot’ and ‘condescension’ and ‘shrill.’ But there is one word which I absolutely cannot stand. It’s one of the most damaging words in the creative world.
What is it?
What’s so bad about that word? Well, nothing if you’re describing a baby’s toes or a spectacular sunset or the straightness of a picture on your wall. But when it comes to the production of anything creative, perfection is a very bad word.
For starters, it’s so transient. One person’s idea of perfection is another person’s description of Absolute Bilge. Don’t believe me? Look up Amazon reviews for your favourite book. Perfection is unachievable.
In fact, the pursuit of perfection is the most efficient way to choke the life out of your Creativity.
I think the hardest part of writing is not the routine, or the ideas, or the characters, or the plot twists, or the descriptions, or the comedic moments (including the stomach-churning worry that no one will laugh at the right places). The hardest part is convincing yourself that your first words don’t have to be perfect.
Years ago, when Jessica first started writing, she believed (like most budding writers) that stories sprang into life like watered seedlings and flowed onto the page like fresh honey on a warm summer’s day. (What do you mean I’m mixing my metaphors? Mixed Metaphors are my favourite kind; like Mixed Nuts, only less salty.) Once on the page, she believed words quickly solidified into the finished product – set in stone, as it were, for eternity. (Three metaphors in one paragraph! I’m on fire today!)
She was unfortunate enough to write several stories that flowed fully formed onto the page. Why unfortunate? Because it slowed her learning of an important lesson: Words are not stone.
Words are free. They can be changed, quickly and easily with a stroke of a pen or a tap of a keyboard. Gender, tense, season, location, emotion, interaction – all these things can be changed with simple word selection.
Words are not stone. They are clay, to be moulded at your whim.
Words are beads to be chosen, strung together and then restrung over and over until you’re happy.
Words are finger paintings – messy and beautiful and expressive. They are to be played with and smudged.
Words are spices to be dashed across your most recent creation to enliven and enrich your tastes.
Words are beacons, shining their light into the nooks and crannies of subjects.
Words are yours, to do with as you wish.
And the best thing is, words can be changed – anytime, easily. If you don’t like them, choose new ones!
Be not afraid of words, for you are their master. And if they do not appear correctly the first time, keep playing and scribbling and painting and scattering them until they eventually come out right.
January 12, 2013 at 1:57 am
Oh Creativity, you are so wise! Of course, we all know that, it’s just something we forget way too easily. I’ve known many beginning writers who assume that the first words they put on the page are perfect. It takes some nudging–and some hard knock in the world–to convince them otherwise. Thanks for telling us the real dirt!
January 14, 2013 at 9:43 am
Yes, I have to be reminded of it too. 😉
January 22, 2013 at 6:08 am
perfection can be attained or can be unattainable…it varies and depends on an individual..a thing can be perfect for somebody and for others it may have flaws…so it is a very subjective term.
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