| David Gane

Fixing My Mistakes

As we work on our upcoming novel, I've been reflecting on how my process has evolved from when we first started up to now.

Fear as Time-Waster

At the start, I often had moments of pause when I questioned what I was about to write. Fear stopped me—I never knew whether the next story beat I wanted to write was right or wrong—or worse, whether Ang would like it or not.

It make me stop writing completely, for an hour or even a day while I tried to come to a solution. I’d sometimes text Ang, asking for her opinion, and wait around until I got the go-ahead.

As time (and the story) progressed though, I realized how limiting this process was.

The trouble was that waiting for permission from either Ang or to discover what the "right" solution was would cost us valuable time that could be spent writing more words, getting us closer to the finish line.

Do it, then fix it

To speed up the work, I began to impart the “Do it, then ask for forgiveness later” rule, because of a few simple rules:

  • Always have a plan - We always have our stories outlined before writing that is our personal map guiding us to to the end. Therefore, when we take a detour here or there, it doesn’t affect the overall story too much[1].

  • Know how far your can stray - As well, I have an idea of Ang's likes and dislikes and how far she’ll let a story go before she begins to resist it. Even then, I will still push a story beat I think might work, because it can always be fixed later.

  • Show, don't tell - Often, it's easier to show a rough draft of an idea I have to myself or Ang, rather than envision a half-ass version of it in my mind.[2]Whether she or I hate the choices I've made, I know that I can always fix it later.

  • Not set in stone - There's rarely been a story situation that I can't reverse. As long as there's a fix, I find there's never any harm in trying, and if I'm smart about it, I can try almost anything.

Works for Life, Too

Of course, the big picture idea is that this attitude works for life.

As Elbert Hubbard said: “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.

There are a lot of things we can do that are explorations of our lives. They’ll be scary but fear is normal but it keeps us on our toes and prepared. We’ll have successes and failures, but as long as we approach things smart, with a focus on our end goals, most of these mistakes won’t be life-shattering.

  1. These detours also shows us up to new character territory, which can be always exciting. ↩︎

  2. A fundamental rule of story is always to show, don’t tell because it presents the story in a dramatic fashion. ↩︎

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