Sunday, April 17, 2011

Make an appointment to have a happy accident

This week I interviewed Jeff Mack, a writer and illustrator of children's books. Aside from the fact that it's always interesting to peak into the life of someone who is out there living the life that so many writers and illustrators dream of, one of his answers struck me as particularly interesting.

He said that while he's working on the first phase of his illustrations, he creates quick sketches of the layouts and characters. While he's doing these scribbly drawings, "accidents" sometimes suggest forms that he had not thought of before. These lead to more sketches, and as he allows the process of trial and error to continue, he eventually comes to up with his final art.

This struck me as somewhat profound, primarily because it applies to writers just as well as illustrators. As writers, we strive for the perfect word and the perfect story. Some times we muddle around in the middle, afraid to go forward because we want everything to be just right when we write our story for the first time. However, first drafts are not meant to be perfect. They are just like an illustrator's early scribbles. If we just allow the creative process to take it's natural course when we show up to write each day, eventually, we'll see something more finished and more beautiful than we first imagined. It will have more facets than the original plan called for. Hopefully, it will have more depth.

My challenge to you this week is to break out of any perfectionist mentality that you harbor as you write your first drafts. Instead, let yourself enjoy the happy accidents that result from quickly moving through your plot. In the end, they might take you in directions you didn't plan to go, which might turn out to be a good thing.

If this is something you've struggled with (as I have), leave a comment after you have permitted yourself to let go more in your writing. How did it work out? Did you have some happy accidents that actually produced something you were glad of in the end?

If you'd like to read my interview with Jeff Mack, click on this link and enjoy!

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