I am a notorious bad first-draft writer. My first drafts are the most horrific pieces of writing you could imagine. But I know myself, and I am a type-A perfectionist. Perfectionists, if we’re not careful, make very poor writers. Why? Because in our eyes, nothing is ever good enough, so nothing ever gets finished. I know when I sit down to write if I don’t just get some words out, no matter how bad, I’ll get too far into my head and start judging, editing, and eventually censoring, the death knell for creativity.~ “The first draft of anything is shit.” Ernest Hemingway ~
For many writers, first drafts are torturous, but usually it’s because we are not treating the writing for what it is: a first draft. First, or even second or third drafts, aren’t supposed to be perfect, so why do we think they should be? Because when we read, we read final, highly polished, published drafts. The language is striking, the story meticulously woven – for the reader, it’s a work of art. But we don’t have the benefit of reading the first draft, or second, or third; we only see the published end result, so this is what we compare our own writing to. We are setting ourselves up for failure if we measure our early drafts to published material.
~ ”The scariest moment is always just before you start.” ~
Breathe. Stop judging. Stop comparing. Let go of attachments – to the outcome, the output, your own or other’s expectations. If you find yourself paralyzed with the blank page – write ugly. Write drivel. Avoid writing in sentences. Write anything, as long as you get words on paper. Don’t censor yourself or mark anything out. Let your mind roll. Get the story down and go back later to pretty it up. Once you can quiet the judgmental self-censor, you’ll find your blank page is soon filled with words, and you might find they aren’t all that bad.