When I was teaching English several years ago many of my students struggled with creative writing. They’d write one or two sentences and then call me over to read them, expecting praise and feedback for the tiny bit of work they’d done.
I blame this partly on the over-sharing, instant-gratification culture we live in where every fleeting thought and emotion is often considered Facebook or Tweet-worthy. People not only expect but need to be acknowledged and getting ‘liked’ or retweeted releases feel-good chemicals in the brain that cause us to become addicted to constant feedback.
Writers are not immune to this and when there are so many forums to publish our work and get read, it takes a lot of self-control to hold things back and not hit the publish button too soon. I shouldn’t include all writers in this because there are many who thrive on feedback and interaction, using it to produce better work, but I’m not one of them.
As soon as I put something out there in the public domain, that’s it, it’s over for me. I never want to revisit that piece of writing again. I don’t have a folder of drafts that I can go back and work on when the creative well runs dry because I've put nearly everything I've written on Amazon or on my blog. I really wish I did have some pieces to fall back on that I'd kept to myself.
I’ve come to believe that putting something aside and letting it sit there, untouched, for a few weeks or months is one of the most important things writers can do to improve their writing. With this in mind I’m going to focus on writing a few first drafts and then just leave them alone for a while. Not only will this hopefully help me to improve my writing but it will also free up the creative juices when there’s no self-imposed pressure to produce a finished piece of work.