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!

first draftI 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.

When first starting a project, repeat, I only need to write a shitty first draft. Click To Tweet

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!

Writing prompt

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.

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If you’re brave, please share your results in the comments below or your writing process.

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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!