Writer, producer and awesome human being, John Rogers, had this to say on Twitter recently.
“. . . it is perfectly acceptable, when working on a scene that vexes you, to write “DUMBEST VERSION” along the top of the page and start from there. As I, a human who has been writing professionally for 25 years, just did. Give yourself permission to suck.”
It is truly great advice. I have lost count of how many times I have stared at the blank page, not willing to write a scene or story because it was just not right in my head. There were problems. I didn’t quite knpow how the characters would have sex. I didn’t like the color of someone’s hair. For whatever reason, I wasn’t willing to commit my idea to words because the words weren’t perfect yet.
Which is a bullshit reason to not write something cause let me tell you, even if you think you have all the right words to put down, you’re going to change those precious little babies in the rewrite. The most perfect ideal concept in your head is not going to be perfect once it gets on the page. There will be rewrites. Go ahead and put that shit on the page.
I have been writing since the 90’s and I still struggle with this. We all do. Sometimes it is not even perfectionism at work, it can be simply having no fucking idea what happens next. That’s cool, you still write something down. The act of writing your inferior idea down is going to give you very strong feelings about what is wrong with it. From there, you can craft the better idea.
My mental trick for coming up with the “Dumbest version’ is what I call the campfire scenario. Imagine you are sitting around a campfire with your friends. They are trading stories and it is your turn. You have to say because your friends won’t let you pass. In that situation, I will spit out something. If it sucks, who cares? The next person in line will tell a story and your blunder will be forgotten.
But in the meantime, you got it started.