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The secret weapon to writing better stories: Make mistakes

I’ve concluded that to be a better writer, I need to make more mistakes. The more uptight and worried I am about, “getting it right,” the stiffer and less creative my writing is.

I’ve been working on revisions and I’ve found I wrote better pages when I was half awake and less tense about the sentences. Or when I worked fast and furiously as I wrote 750 words for the day. Or when I wrote with the abandon of a 5-year-old.

It’s just not effective or efficient to edit and create at the same time. If you edit while you’re creating, your brain can get a little too judgmental and suck the creative mojo right out of your story.

So here are a few ideas if you want to make more mistakes in your writing and open the door for more creativity.

Don’t stare at a blank page. Just start writing something. The more you dwell on the fact that you don’t know what to write, the more you’ll likely panic. Instead of writing, you’ll be thinking about how you, “aren’t writing.” So start writing a few first lines. Then put one more line after that, no matter how offbeat (or awkward) it is. Just write whatever comes into your wild mind. You can finetune it later.

Appease the story gods. If I have a vague idea from the story gods about what I want to write about, and I want to make the idea bloom, I write, “I think my story is about,” or, “I think my character wants,” and go with it. The story gods like it and bestow more words and ideas.

Don’t worry. When I look back at pages when I was going with the flow, sure I find some bad sentences, but I’m usually pleasantly surprised to find a few gems. The only way to produce something good is by producing anything — and then revising.

In other words, I’m willing to make mistakes.

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