Shitty first draft
“The first draft of anything is shit.”
— Ernest Hemingway
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
— Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life)
How many times have you started some writing but ran out of time because you were editing yourself over and over?
Or perhaps you got 1,000 words done, but were exhausted by self-doubt?
Stop the madness!
I can think of no better writing tip to start off my 500 series of writing tips and prompts, than the shitty first draft mantra.
When first starting a project, repeat, I only need to write a shitty first draft. Frame it; stick it on your monitor.
Be forgiving of yourself, and remember, you only need to get words on paper for a first draft. Do not edit as you go. Turn off your Grammarly (and maybe remove the backspace key). You will need to revise, but the first draft is not the time.
Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something — anything — down on paper. A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft — you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft — you fix it up. You try to say what you have to say more accurately. And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it’s loose or cramped or decayed, or even, God help us, healthy.
— Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life)
Stop the editing and self-doubt; no one cares about your first draft and neither should you.
Now, let those fingers fly!
Write a shitty first draft of a secret you’ve never told anyone (or hey make one up!). Write for 15 minutes, write, don’t think, do not stop.
Write Your Best Fiction and Get It Published
Learn the 10 essentials of fiction-writing mastery from a world-class teacher and Writer’s Digest fiction expert
If you’re brave, please share your results in the comments below or your writing process.
Please join the #500WordsClub and let us know what you’re working on!
About the author. Carla Paton, Ph.D.-c is a writer, marketer, and Depth Psychologist. She loves helping writers with quick and easy marketing tips so they can get back to writing. Grab your free Power Words Cheat Sheet for Busy Writers, and then make those words shine!
Be Awesome – Write 500 Words a Day Club Challenge
You think you’ll never finish any writing project. Ever.
I’ve been there, and have tried all the tricks.
Set my alarm early. Check.
Beautiful sunrise. Check.
No checking of email. Check.
Disconnect from the Internet. Check.
Set my writing timer for 45 minutes. Check.
Blank page. Check.
2 hours later…Commute…email, problems, more email, problems, kids, dog escape, husband, kids, problems, snacks. Commute, laundry, dishes,
treadmill, shower, exhaustion. Rinse, repeat.
Be Great – How to Write 500 Words a Day
Yes, all the tricks we do to write are necessary. And I will write more
about them in the days to come, but above all, it is accountability that will help us to keep the squirrels in their rightful trees and not scurrying across our writing desks.
I am proposing that you join me in my quest and commitment to writing 500 words a day, no excuses.
Well, that’s fine for me, you say, but how do I know that you’ve done your writing for the day?
Easy! You are going to tell me about your writing victories, by commenting below, or by tweeting your awesome daily accomplishments with the hashtag #500wordsclub.
When I see your comment or tweet, I will give you a shout out on my DailyMuseBooks Twitter feed.
By participating daily in this FREE epic writing adventure you get:
- 500 words written a day (reward enough, no?)
- Kudos & more encouragement
- Exposure of your writing project (if you want)
- Inspirational tips and ideas to keep you motivated
Be Awesome – How to Write 500 Words a Day- Every Day
In the #500wordsclub you will get more kudos and support from the others in the same battle to get words on the page. You are going to tweet and share this right?!
Likewise, support your fellow clubbers by giving them a twitter or comment high five.
Accountability is the golden writing key.
If you can’t afford a personal writing coach to kick your butt, then use the free writing #500wordsclub to support your efforts. Also get daily inspirational tips to keep you motivated.
The world is asleep.
You have your comfy, steaming mug of tea.
You have closed the door to intrusions and future-cares.
You have primed the writing well the night before.
You hit the blank screen running. Before you know it, an hour has passed and wah-lah! 500 words have made their way onto your page.
You can do this. And you can do it every day.
Join the #500WordsClub and get the support you need to write 500 words a day, get your writing finished, and out in the world.
About the Author
Carla Paton, Ph.D.-c is a writer, marketer, and Depth Psychologist. She
loves helping writers with quick and easy marketing tips so they can get
back to writing. Grab your free Power Words Cheat Sheet for Busy Writers, and then make those words shine!
Morning Person – NOT – Body Rhythms Writing Myths, Realities, and Morning Pages
We all have our ideal morning, right? We wake up refreshed, get right to our keyboard, or morning pages journal and favorite pen, with a steaming mug of our favorite caffeinated beverage. The house is quiet. We have been good and not peeked at messages or emails. We commence writing something worthy, something all our own.
Morning is wonderful. Its only drawback is that it comes at such an inconvenient time of day.
― Glen Cook, Sweet Silver Blues
It used to be that my favorite time of day was the hour or so before I go to sleep, work and chores done, curled in bed with a book. Now, however, or for the last two weeks at least, I have conquered my natural body rhythms (sleep, and then well, some more sleep) and have woken up with the sunrise. I have stolen at least an hour each morning before my work day for writing. Am I kidding myself? When will I revert to my natural sleep-in-as-long-as-possible rhythm? Is there even such a thing as a body clock? Or are these merely habits to reinforce or break? Yes, gasp, I think I may be becoming a morning person.
Body Rhythm Myths & Realities
So, to reinforce this habit, how are we to reinvent our routines to accommodate our modern realities? While our bodies may be naturally tuned to wake at sunrise and wind down at sunset, most of us no longer keep traditional farmer schedules. In 1959, Dr. Franz Halberg coined this natural rhythm of sleep and wakefulness, the circadian rhythm. Circadian comes from the Latin meaning, “about a day.”
Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself.
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
According to the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center, circadian rhythms are about 24-hour cycles regulated by control centers in the middle of the brain called, the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN). The circadian rhythm reaches the most sleepiness in the middle of the night, reaches the least at awakening, while slight drowsiness then returns mid-afternoon. Indeed, besides sleep, there are about 100 known body functions that oscillate from high to low in a 24-hour period. With these built-in functions in mind, perhaps we should clue-in and work with them instead of against them.
Keep a small can of WD-40 on your desk—away from any open flames—to remind yourself that if you don’t write daily, you will get rusty.
Listen to Your Mother
My writing life has suffered from my need for sleep. If I don’t get 8 to 9 hours a night, I feel groggy, and by the end of the week, if I remain at a cumulative deficit, I can even become ill. Then a good chunk of my weekend is lost to catching up on sleep…then Sunday night it is hard to get to sleep and of course, Monday morning, well, sucks. But, of course, my mother, who is always right, is right and if I force myself to get up at the same time EVERY morning, then I do sleep deeper and need less sleep. I am trying this logic again; it is working for now. I am happy, I am rested, and I am writing.
A Place to Start
If you need some new tool incentives (or a fresh smelling journal), one of the first early morning writing evangelists was Julia Cameron. Her The Artist's Way book and its subsequent offshoots are a good place to begin if you want some structure around your writing morning efforts. While certainly not the inventor of the practice, she coined the term, morning pages.
The bedrock tool of a creative recovery is a daily practice called Morning Pages. – Julia Cameron
I don’t need an alarm clock. My ideas wake me.
While modernity, with its productive extended hours of electric light, technology, and gadgets of every sort has extended our abilities beyond nature’s boundaries, we are still tied, body and mind to the earth’s rotation and the sun’s cycles. If we remember to honor circadian rhythms in our daily schedule and activities, Hypnos, the Greek God of sleep will reward us with more deep slumber and all its benefits, including early bird writing.
Please share what your morning writing routine is like, what has helped, or your morning person (or not) experiences.
A Simple System for Blog Topics and Writing Ideas
When you only have an hour to write, that hour is precious. When that hour comes early, early in the morning (as in, before the rest of the family wakes up) that hour is a precious metal beyond name or price. The last thing you want is to squander that hour thinking about what blog topics to write about, or worse, floundering on the Internet for ideas. Some mornings I’m ready to go with an idea before I get out of bed. Others, like today, I’ve got nothing, nada. So, from now on, I will have a pre-made list with many juicy possibilities.
With that preamble, here is a simple system for you and me to create a list of interesting blog topics or article ideas that will be ready to go the next morning.
Categories or Themes
Create categories or themes that tie-in with your blog or website theme or purpose. If you don’t have a theme or purpose, well, nothing like the present. If you don’t like making lists, use mind-mapping software, a white board, or simple pencil and paper if you don’t already have a clear notion of what your themes are (or what you would like them to be). One of my favorite mind-mapping tools is Mind Meister. It is also collaborative if you work with a team.
One simple way to do mind-mapping is to put your category in the center of your page or whiteboard, draw a circle around it. Then go to the next step below (Word Association) and add the word associations around the category with connecting lines or however you want to creatively designate their connections. The idea with mind-mapping is to give your brain (or body/brain) a different way of making connections.
With each category named, for each one do some word or free association and quickly write down a word that first comes to mind. Don’t over-think this, just brainstorm. Try to come up with 2 to 3 words for each category. (You can thank Freud later…)
Word to Phrase Expansion
Now that you have 1 to 3, or more words per category, you have some choices. Depending on the time and energy that you can spend on this exercise, you can try to expand each word in each category into a phrase, sentence, or larger idea. Or, if your time is limited for the day, pick one category and expand each word in that category only. Now you should be seeing at least one or two worthy ideas to write about for your blog topics the next few mornings. Of course, if you have more time, you can map out blog topics for your entire week, or longer. Be mindful, however, that if you map out too many for the future when it comes time to write about them, you may have forgotten your intent or the idea may lose its energy or focus.
If you can do the above exercise once a day, perhaps working with one category or even one category sentence at a time, you will go a long way to greasing the wheels of your unconscious to work on the idea even further while you sleep. Don’t spend more than 30 minutes on this planning, and try to do it close to bedtime. You will be amazed what your dream time can spin. And, yes, I have a rooster.
While this simple exercise may seem obvious (now that I’ve explained it, duh) and not very sexy, I think you will find it helpful not only for article or blog topics, but also to discover your blog or website overall theme(s). For myself, I like a certain amount of freedom to discover my themes and to have the flexibility to change them. But there does come a time when it is beneficial to develop a focus. This allows you to not only target, or find a more specific audience, it also affords you the magic to begin to dig deeper into your niche and area(s) of expertise. And you might surprise yourself.