Stuff I've Learned: Lie to Yourself
Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird talks about Radio Station KFKD, that voice in your head that whispers (or sometimes shouts) an endless stream of self-doubt. In order to be a writer, you have to at least temporarily shut that radio station off. You have to trust yourself.
Easier said than done.
Sometimes it feels like that station is playing on a radio that runs with zero electricity, has a broken volume dial, and is hidden up in the neighbor's tallest tree. And the neighbor has vicious dogs.
Here's one technique that I use for shutting off KFKD:
Lie to Yourself
I promise myself that no one will ever see the story that I'm working on. It's only a draft -- my secret draft -- and none of the words I write will be in the final version. The plot won't be the same. The characters won't be the same. All these words are merely placeholders until the real words can come along. But I have to get the placeholders there so that the real words have a place to go.
In other words, I lie to myself.
Oh, to a certain extent it's true. I will revise. A lot will change. But some of it won't, and I know that. But promising myself that the words are secret is sometimes enough to trick my brain into cooperating. It makes it okay to make mistakes because no one will ever see the horror of the secret draft. It makes the draft safe.
I know writers who take it further and tell themselves that they're writing a secret book just for themselves. They won't ever show it to their agent, their editor, or even their pet guinea pig Marbles. And a part of them knows the entire time that that's not true and they'll try to publish it, but they lie to themselves to fool the radio station, to make the draft safe, to give themselves permission to experiment and play.
In other words, the lie can set you free.