After I responded to a post on an email discussion for writers post about being discouraged from writing because the novel in the mind became rubbish on the page I thought I'd post my response here in case some other discouraged writer happens by.
I dare to give advice on the subject because, "I've written a thing or two about a thing or two," my version of what the bad stepfather says in the movie version of the memoir This Boy's Life, by Tobias Wolff.
My advice to the discouraged garbage writer:
Well, that's what I call the garbage stage that most writing goes through, particularly when one hasn't done a lot of it, and even sometimes when one has done a lot of it. One has a great idea, dialogue comes to mind, characters whisper in the corner and follow one around during the day, one wakes at night thinking about a good scene, etc. Then, full of anticipation one sits down to put it on paper or on screen, writes furiously, or haltingly, as the case may be. Then, one reads it. Ugh! Garbage. How did that happen? Where is all the deathless prose I though was at my fingertips? Who am I kidding? I can't write worth (supply fitting epithet)!
The solution is just go right ahead and write garbage. It's all nutrients for what will grow from your future cultivation of the raw material.
The way to write is to rewrite.
The writer then asked, "Do I basically need to give myself permission to write
Yes, ma'am. That's it exactly. You did not expect to be able to walk the first time you stood up. Only English teachers expect you to write literature on the first draft.
Just put your behind on the chair, pen or mouse in hand, and write. Fix it later, maybe not even read it until you've let it sit for a week or so.
And, I'm adding now,
Rewrite it until:
1. It looks right on the page--print it out and look at it.
2. It sounds right when you read it aloud.
3. It feels right, in your gut. You'll get a sort of gentle "Uh Huh" feeling in your midsection to confirm that it's right.
You don't need to know what's wrong with it technically, just experiment with it until it meets the Three Tests above.