I overcame a huge roadblock to my writing this year. I finally started writing dirty.
It’s not what you may be thinking.
You see, I’m a perfectionist who tends to edit as I write. In fact, I corrected that last sentence three times before I was happy with it. As I type, I go back to fix my punctuation and rearrange sentences. If I think I have used the same words too many times, the thesaurus comes out. Who am I kidding? I usually get it open before the first paragraph is completed.
Over the past few years at my writing retreat, I have set writing goals that I never met. I thought they were small and attainable. For example, I may plan to type 5000 words by a certain time. However, when the deadline arrived, I would only have 2000 words done. Now, I probably wrote 5000 or more words but edited it down to 2000. Every paragraph was treated as a final draft.
“Writing dirty” is the phrase we have used for what I am trying to do – just get the words on paper, and I can “clean it up” when I revise. Hence, the goal to “write dirty.”
This year, one of the women got us all shirts with our target phrases. Mine was “I write dirty.” It had become a yearly goal and point of laughter that I just couldn’t “write dirty.”
But not this year. I finally began to meet my goals. At the beginning of the week, I tended to type-edit-type-edit-edit-type…etc. I fell short of my goals as usual. But something happened about mid-week. I made the mental shift and accomplished getting more on paper and out of my head.
Perhaps it is because I already have writing days planned for the next two weeks and knew I was coming back to this project. In past years, my job didn’t allow much time for writing, so this yearly retreat was the only large block of time I had. But, I have more free time with my new job and have scheduled a few days a month to spend partial or whole days returning to my project. Therefore, I didn’t feel the urgency to get it done. I had the freedom to just write and write.
Now, much of it will still end up getting cut out when I revise and edit. But, for now, I’m celebrating the victory of writing dirty.