Okay, so you’re a writer and your seat is on the seat and you’re ready to begin. Next comes the easy/hard part: get it down and don’t wait for it to be good.
I say this is easy because it means you let the writing flow. You don’t stop to correct punctuation errors or re-attach dangling participles or edit an over abundance of adjectives. You don’t worry about writing perfectly or keeping to a pre-conceived plot plan. You don’t hesitate because you’re not sure what your story is about or where it’s going. You don’t backtrack because an unexpected character or happening shows up. You don’t allow the English teacher or critic in your head to participate. You just let go and see where the act of writing takes you. You explore without judgement. You open yourself to discovery.
I say this is hard because, of course you want to write well. Of course you want this to be good. Perfect, in fact. You don’t want to be wasting your precious writing time on something you’ll only cross out or delete. You’ve been schooled to write with precision and clarity. You’ve been trained to honor the rules and to punctuate properly. You’ve been taught to get it right, not get it down. Or rather, to get it down only when and if it’s right — all presentable and respectable and logical. Thus, you’ve been hobbled from the outset.
I’m here to remind your hesitant self that re-writing comes later. This is first draft time. Rough draft time. Rough is the operative word here — the free-you-up-so-you-can-get-it-down word. “Oh, yeah,” you can say to yourself, “This is supposed to be rough. I’ll fix it later. Fixing’s another part of the process.”
Process. Great word, process. A sweet word. It’s a word that reminds us to breathe and allows us to play.
Anne Lamott, author of bird by bird, talks about “shitty first drafts” and assures us that “all good writers write them.” She calls the first draft, “… the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later.”
So for now, with the seat of your pants to the seat of the chair, get it down. Don’t wait for it to be good.
— What’s stopping you from getting it down on the page? Share by commenting below. —