Friday, February 1, 2013

Wrongs and Writes

Like many writers, I suffer from a dreaded writerly disease: trying to write it right the first time. I agonize over sentence structure, search my thesaurus for the perfect synonym, and doubt every plot line.

So when I came across this New York Times Magazine Article that reminded me how important it is to be wrong -- and "to be wrong as fast as you can," I considered once again how overrated right is. In the article, Hugo Lindgren reviews a list of ideas he's had throughout the years and wonders why he hasn't written them. He recounts a Charlie Rose interview with Pixar's John Lasseter:  

Pixar’s in-house theory is: Be wrong as fast as you can. Mistakes are an inevitable part of the creative process, so get right down to it and start making them. Even great ideas are wrecked on the road to fruition and then have to be painstakingly reconstructed. “Every Pixar film was the worst motion picture ever made at one time or another,” Lasseter said. “People don’t believe that, but it’s true. But we don’t give up on the films."

We've all heard it a million times -- the stories of successful writers slogging through page after page of mediocrity, never giving up. And that is the real difference between success and failure. Never giving up.

So as I finish what I hope is my last major revision of this novel, I'll welcome making mistakes that can be fixed. I'll keep my eye on the light at the end of the tunnel and take the express.


  1. So true, Judy. And so wise. I recently heard an interview with Michael Chabon at the end of the audiobook of The Yiddish Policemen's Union in which he revealed that he had written a 600pp first draft of the book with a first person narrator. He threw it out and kept 30pp. And he was so nonchalant about his efforts! It reminded me that what we see in a book is the tip of the iceberg.

  2. Advice I need to follow. Too often I agonize over sentence structure and the perfect word in a first draft. I should just get the ideas down and leave the angst to later.

  3. Truer words were never "written." A certain amount of discipline is necessary, but getting it all out is far superior to getting hung up on the first paragraph...and going no farther.