A little knowledge is dangerous
I’ve always written, and people have always told me I was good at it. Roughly ten years ago, I was inspired to start writing more and posting it online. I had readers! I had actual fans!
After that, I decided to start writing “for real.” I’ve been writing daily, seeking out critique, revising, learning more about the art of writing. I’ve sold a short story, I’ve self-published an anthology with some friends.
So where do The Beatles come into this? At the beginning of their careers, John Lennon and Paul McCartney didn’t know how to read or write music. In fact, they actively avoided learning the theory of music and how to write it. Why? They were already writing amazing music. Unique, powerful, popular. They were concerned that learning the rules would take away their spontaneity, negatively impact their ability to produce unique and wonderful music.
I used to write with a blithe lack of awareness of all the things I was doing wrong. I used adverbs unselfconsciously, didn’t know the difference between showing and telling, and I even wrote prologues!
Now, as I type, I stop and say, “Oh! Filter phrase!” “Show-don’t-tell!” and “Is that adverb necessary?” “Have I established my character in his or her normal surroundings?” “Have I hooked the reader?”
It slows me down, makes me doubt myself and makes it harder to enjoy the experience of crafting.
But when my muse finds me – often far too late at night – when I can find that groove, I finally forget all the little rules and just write. When I can put the nit-picky stuff aside, I can find my way back to the joy of writing.
Besides, I can edit out extraneous adverbs later.