From His Poem “Impression.”
“Too much afraid of faults to be…”
And that simple line from that incredible poem describes a great number of the writers I talk with every day. (You can read the entire poem here, published about writing in 1894. Worth the read. And if you could dare to write as ill as some whose voices haunt us still…)
But that simple saying of being afraid of faults to be describes why so many writers don’t finish stories.
And why so many don’t get their work out to readers or short fiction to editors.
That saying a long time ago stopped making sense to me as a writer or publisher or editor. I flat know I am going to have fun, make mistakes, and keep learning. Never afraid of making a mistake.
I’m not afraid of having fun. So many writers are.
I am not afraid of making mistakes and having others see them. Most writers I know are.
I am not afraid to make mistakes and keep learning. So many writers who sign up for workshops are afraid of sending me assignments for what I might say.
Or worse, they try to write something they think I want instead of writing what they want to write and learning from it.
Writers get to the middle of a book, stop, and worry about trying to figure out what is going to happen next instead of just writing the next sentence and finding out that way.
Being afraid of faults to be kills the fun of the moment, brings in critical voice, and makes fiction writing work instead of fun.
Being afraid of a future mistake comes out in sentences like “I am awful at covers, so I hire them done.” What the writer is saying simply is that I am afraid of making a mistake, having others see it, so I won’t even try to learn that.”
And that fear of future mistakes is like a nasty monster in so many writer’s work, stopping them, making them rewrite, making them go to book doctors, and so on and so on.
It is amazingly freeing to not care if you make a mistake when trying something new, writing a story, doing a publishing project, and just living.
Some of you might want to try it.
With fiction writing, that answer is simple:
Climb on Heinlein’s Rules and never get off and never do anything in writing or publishing that isn’t exciting or scary, and just plain fun.
But for most of you, the worry is about the mistake to come if you did even think of trying that. And that fear of the mistake to come, the fault to be, will stop you cold.
Read the poem.