I think I’ve mentioned before that I used to have terrible time with writing first drafts. Whether it was poetry or a short story, I’d freeze at the edge of the blank sheet of paper, so perfect in all its whiteness, not daring to put down anything that could not improve upon the pristine state.
To be able to write anything, you have to first give yourself permission to get the paper dirty, then to write badly or at least to only catch the kernel of an idea, and leave its blossoming to another time and day.
I’m trying to write every day at the moment, build a writing practice and discover what works best for me. Some days it feels like a chore and the words clumsy in my hands; other days, they seem to shine.
Either way, I have to plant them on the page and leave them be; give them time. When I come back to them in a week or a month, the words that glinted in their first flush may have lost their lustre and the dull words come up gold with a spit and a polish.
No great piece of writing is born fully formed, advises author, Anne Lamott, in this extract from her book on writing, ‘Bird by Bird’:
I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much.
So this week’s 3 for Thursday are my favourite tips and advice for writing that terrifying first draft.
Now where did I put that pen?