Take Your Time.
I typically don't call myself a perfectionist, but, when it comes to writing, I'm realizing that it's a pretty accurate description of myself.
Recently, I've been trying to write the wild and crazy story about my experience with strangers, golden Easter eggs, smoking weed, 2am tacos, and crazy dance parties at the local coffee shop. The story is amazing, and everyone I've talked to about it says that I really need to write it all down.
Usually I can crank out a story in an hour or so, depending on how raw or in-depth I want to be.
This story, so far, has taken me three freaking days.
You'd think I'd feel disheartened by the slow progress, but thinking about two of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis and J.R. Tolkien, the authors of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings series, keeps me going.
If you haven't read or seen either of the movie adaptations to these authors' work, then I disown you (not really, but I will encourage you to at least watch the movies and at most read and appreciate all the books).
What many people don't know is that Lewis and Tolkien were very good friends – both professors at Oxford in the 1920s, and both fans of good alcohol and smoking pipes. Another little known fact is that Lewis, who had been a devout atheist, was influenced and encouraged by Tolkien, a Roman Catholic, to think about God – ultimately leading to Lewis' conversion.
Though both wrote fiction, Lewis and Tolkien had insanely different writing styles. Lewis was a furiously fast writer, turning out his seven book Narnia series in six years. Tolkien, on the other hand, was a painfully slow writer, taking seven years to write The Hobbit alone and very nearly giving up on the other books in the series after suffering from severe writer's block.
The lesson of the story is this: if it's worth doing, then it's worth spending a good amount of time on it.
In the age of instant gratification, it's easy to think we have to have make something on the spot. If something takes too long, we move on. Even today, when it took Facebook longer than five seconds to load, I got frustrated and slammed the refresh button multiple times.
I'm learning you can't do that with writing.
For me, writing a story that is fresh and engaging and loaded with surprises takes time.
And I've got a good feeling that this lesson can be applied to many areas in life, but it's late and I need to get to bed.
Figure it out.
And if you don't hear from me for a couple of days, just know that I'm working on something epic.
So stay tuned.