The title is often the sad truth. And you know what? I should be able to deal with that better than I do. My endless search for the one word, the ultra-perfect word, is a search that always ends in frustration and a total disdain for writing needs and it needs to stop. Sometimes there isn’t that one word you need.
I could write a thousand plus words on the photo above, and none of them would rhyme with orange. And recently, I’d look at the thousand words and scoff because I couldn’t find that one word that rhymed with orange. Instead of celebrating the words I had written, I would look at the failure of not finding the one word I deemed I needed. The “one word to bind them all”, if I can paraphrase Tolkien for a moment or two. Yes, I know, that is silly. But I’m betting I’m not the only person out there who does this (or who has done this).
I managed to submit the article to the magazine. I managed to narrow down the copious amounts of safari photos I have and sent them 8 to choose from. Maybe they’ll use them, maybe they won’t. They might not even use the article. But I managed to get it done. I made a few edits while transferring it from the written word to typed out. I also had an eagle-eyed, voracious reader of a friend look over it for me to find anything else that didn’t look right. After her suggestions were incorporated and I re-read it, I really liked what I had produced. Especially under such constricted timeframes.
And then it hit me … that is when I work best. In most facets of my life. When I have too much time to think, I overthink, overanalyze, and usually make a big balls up of it. This problem is not just confined to writing. I have had football (soccer) coaches tell me that if I just played on instinct I’d be the best player in the league. My one coach at college told me I drift between being the best player on the team and the worst, depending on how much time I have to do things. Give me too much time and I usually think myself into making mistakes. But if I have a split second to make a reactionary decision, I am in my element.
At college, where I received two academic scholarships, I can distinctly recall getting the bulk of my assignments done a day or two before the deadline. I’d sit down to write them, start them, delete them as I deemed the beginnings not good enough, and then I’d write them out in full, by hand, as the deadline loomed. I’d edit as I typed them out. I might not have made the Dean’s List, but I did receive the highest marks I have ever received at school. Again, with a limited timeframe, my need to focus on general output and not specifics worked in my favor.
I am often accused of, in most creative things I do, having a superfluous amount of information. The Hamburg blogs are coming this weekend because I still need to pore over hundreds of photos. Just like when you get me talking and I don’t shut up, once I start clicking away I usually don’t stop. Sometimes the results are quite nice though. When writing, when I’m in full flow, I often write way more than I need. My desire to lay everything out for people is all too obvious and so unnecessary. I want to paint too detailed of a picture rather than letting people fill in the colors and details for themselves. And because I want to paint it so vividly, I get frustrated when I can’t find the exact word. It’s a vicious circle and often leads to tired clichés like vicious circle! And exclamation points!!
One of my best friends once told me I was a very difficult person to be around for a long period of time because “I’m always switched on”. My brain is always working, I get fidgety, I’m always looking at things. While this helps my imagination, it is also a great hindrance when I’m writing. I think too much. I need to “switch off” and just let things happen. Let the words flow. Sometimes there is no perfect word, or any word, that will describe what you want, what you see, or what is happening. Sometimes the tired cliché is the perfect way to describe something.
I need to remember that I have seen hundreds of “beautiful” sunsets and hope to see hundreds more. Why bother trying to find a word more vivid than beautiful? Beautiful works. And it is the truth. Even in fiction, the truth always carries a lot of weight.
Here’s to writing with the freedom turning my brain off will hopefully provide. And here’s to imperfection. May your imperfect writing bring you the perfect results. Yeah, I really like the sound of that.