The artist and the judge

There are two parts of every writer: you, and the judge.

You are carefree, passionate, and someone who loves the act of turning words into art. You laugh at spelling mistakes and swear in your first drafts. Your grammar is terrible, but you don't care. You paint with your words, make up things that make no sense at all, and when you're in the zone in this way, you love it. 

The Judge is a hard-faced cow who only cares about the outside world, the impact the work will have, and to whom. She's the one that makes you change words, backspace, edit plot points and structure. She is uptight, terrified and of course, judge-y.

The Judge is always over at your house during the first draft, which drains your creative energy. She always asks things like, "Who would read this? Who would even want this? What is the point of this?" which creates two issues: doubt, and unfinished work.

If you have 200 unfinished manuscripts in the "Misc" folder on the computer right now, you know what I'm talking about. The judge has judged.

Now, please note that The Judge isn't a bad person. She does only have your best interests at heart. Like a mother, she stops you from doing stupid stuff or unleashing something completely unfit for purpose into the world. But in the midst of creation, you just can't worry about that. 

You know what you want to express. You have to do it your way, no matter how messy or flawed or ridiculous, while the iron is still hot. Because if you don't, you risk losing the message of the work, and the passion in the message of the work.

Here's how you kick The Judge out of your house.

  • Pick any manuscript and start writing.

  • Go and make a fucking mess, and don't worry about it! Know that you'll probably - no, definitely - have to change it all up later.

  • Embrace your work. Go. Play. Ignore spelling mistakes or grammar and just say what you have to say. 

You are going to hate doing this at first, because it feels mean. The Judge will be outside the door, yelling her concerns through the letterbox. You need to ignore her and write. Anything. Whatever comes to mind. Do it as fast as you can, until you complete something. 

No matter what she says, you'll only truly know whether something is good or not when it's complete.

You'll only truly know if there's a place in this world for your work, or not, if it's complete. 

And if you decide it's not, it wasn't a waste of time. It will be a complete work of art that you can learn from, expand on and feel great about. And thats incredible.

Forget about The Judge entirely until you're done, if you can. She can visit later.

For now though, you know what to do.