For those of you who know me, this might come as a shock but i’m usually hit with writer’s block every single day. I get up, pop open whatever canvas I plan to use, and smile wide with the “I’m gonna get down and dirty with you” look I usually have and… nothing.
Then comes the denial (Oh come on. I can totally get started. I’m just having trouble is all.)
Then comes anger (Why can’t I write? What the ****!)
Then comes the bargaining (Oh great and powerful writing gods, I will sacrifice twenty sheets of paper in your honor if you grant me the muse.)
Then comes the depression (Why *hits wall* am *hits wall* I *hits wall* doing *hits wall* this? *hits wall and stays there*).
This used to be where I would stop and turn on the tv instead. This cycle would stick with me every single day, and eventually I gave up writing. The struggle to put my thoughts on a page became to daunting, too frightening, that for a while I felt I was unworthy of the written word in all it’s forms.
This was two years ago, and it would probably be my reality now if it weren’t for some fantastic advice.
My creative writing Professor assigned us a book called Bird By Bird, a short novella in which Anne Lamott, the author, talks about the trials and tribulations of writing. In it she talks about writers block, and not being afraid of the “Shitty First Draft.”
Because the book is currently on loan, I shall attempt to paraphrase here: A Shitty First Draft is essentially that first draft you write. You may say “but not all first drafts suck,” and that might be true, but for me I’ve never written a first draft that didn’t make me cringe. That being said, Anne Lamott reminds us that it’s okay to write that first draft, and you know why? Because, like the foundation for an amazing building, your Shitty First Draft puts the ground work for all your thoughts and ideas. It’s kinda like admitting your faults in an argument so no one can use them against you.
Is it terrible? Probably. But that’s no reason to be ashamed. As writers it’s that first draft that’s the greatest hurdle; the proverbial “single step” on a journey of a thousand miles. It seems daunting but no one said writing was easy. Each day we write we regurgitate our souls into words and that can be pretty terrifying.
With this in mind, I finally manage to make it to the “Acceptance” stage of writing (Okay i’m scared, but let’s see what comes of this. I can always redo what I wrote.) Funny enough, I found that most of our Writer’s Block comes from the fear of not doing well the first time around. Once we realize this fear our ability to write and rewrite becomes that much more acceptable. Heck, sometimes it even pays to say “I’m going to write the first things that come to mind and nothing is going to stop me.”
It all might seem very daunting but trust me, once you take that leap of faith into your Shitty First Draft writing becomes a significantly more enjoyable process. Until you get to editing of course, but that’s a story for another time.
So, do any of you have a fear of writing your first draft? How do you get past it? What other things seem to gunk up your writing? Questions, comments, and discussions in the comments please.
Otherwise, happy writing my friends.