One thing I have to remind myself every time I sit down at the keyboard to story-tell is: “The Writing Police have left the universe,” or “the Writing Police have lost their funding,” or “the Writing Police have all quit to become ski instructors in Vail,” or something even sillier.
The point is, there are no Writing Police anymore, and, in fact, there never were any. Nobody is going to come haul you away in irons if your writing is lousy.
I find this a great comfort on those days I’m confident every word or combination thereof I am putting down is trash–which is pretty much every day. Once I remind myself that the Writing Police are an illusion, I can free myself to write crap–and boy, is writing crap fun! Once I get beyond getting it right and get on with getting it written, the story starts to flow.
Every writer’s Writing Police–unless he or she is blessed to be free of them anyway–are different. On some days, mine look like Hemmingway, Steinbeck, Melville and King. Three of them stare over my shoulder and curse my incompetence while the other one gets the handcuffs ready. On other days, they look like everybody I’ve ever wanted to prove myself to–quite a large crowd. They gather everywhere–behind me, on the desk, on top of my head, laughing derisively while I try to get out the next sentence. No handcuffs here–when they want to take me away, they all just grab me at once.
This literary constabulary used to bother me a good bit, but now that I’m older, and somewhat better at not giving a damn, I have discovered a way to make the Writing Police hightail it. I simply think, or even say out loud, “I shall now right the skunkiest load of crap ever known to man! Observe!” Then I start doing it. At this point, the Writing Police flee in terror–no, that’s not right–they evaporate.
Because, you see, they were never anywhere but in my head, after all. And I run that joint.
So, friends, I say to you, when the crap is flowing, let ‘er rip. Sooner or later, the gold and diamonds will come.
If you have any experience with the Writing Police, I’d love to hear about it. Thanks.