Thursday, August 22, 2013

You Already Suck

In my writing classes, on occasion, a student will not bring in an assignment because they didn’t like what they wrote. “It sucked.” It’s a lame excuse. It’s a class. You’re there to hopefully move from “suck” to “not suck.” If students brought in awesome scenes every week, I would not have a job. There’s also the consideration that, as a writer, you aren’t ever fully aware of what you wrote. You’re too close to it and need the outside perspective of fresh ears and eyes to help you distinguish the good from the not-so-good. Quite often, what a student thinks is brilliant, isn’t, and what they didn’t even regard as being an insightful, hilarious moment, is.

I know a thing or two about sucking. I have written pieces that have sucked the energy out of the room. I have written sketches that make people want to stand up and stretch afterward to try to work out the charley horse my words inflicted on their souls. As a teacher, I have witnessed scenes that make me want to hit people in the head with a stick. Yes. You will write things that suck. Pure and simple. You will also write things that make people squeal with delight and wish they had your fancy writer brains. And while you are writing you will almost always think you suck. You can’t help it. It’s an automatic human defense mechanism kicking in to help you avoid danger. Your mind is wrong, of course. Eating the large wheels of cheese of sharing poor writing will not kill you. And, more often than not, the horrible thing you wrote will help lead you to the next awesome thing you will write.

You are a conduit to many wonderful and humorous ideas. You’re only job is to keep that channel open so you can process those ideas into marvelous scripts. In order to do that, you also have to be willing to deal with the crap that floats through that system as well. Never let “It sucked” jam up the conduit.

When I hear someone say, “It sucked” they are really expressing the fear that they suck. They shouldn’t be writing. They are in the wrong place. If I don’t present the evidence of sucking, then maybe people won’t catch on that I actually do suck. This will get you nowhere. You won’t be able to wait until you don’t suck to write the good stuff. The only way out is through. Write. Write anyway. You already suck.  Embrace it and give up hope of not sucking. Fretting about it only keeps you from writing freely. Give it up. You suck. Now write.

This clip from HBO’s amazing mini-series Band of Brothers explains it better than I just did, because, well, I suck.

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