Fear of Writing – The Shitty First Draft

28 May


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.


Posted by on May 28, 2013 in On Writng, Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , ,

5 responses to “Fear of Writing – The Shitty First Draft

  1. Sarah Evans

    May 29, 2013 at 1:05 am

    I so agree. I’m a pretty new writer, but I finished a first draft of my current book and it was 115k of shit. And I let people READ it (just a few) as I was working on it. But if I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t have the (hopefully) awesome characters, plot, and world that are starting to take shape as I rework things.

    Also, I’m going to follow you now. 🙂

    • writemindedrazo

      May 29, 2013 at 3:52 am

      Wow, 115k? That alone is pretty impressive. My first story was only viewed by a select few but they were invaluable in helping me “trim the fat.”

      Thanks for the follow. My next major post will be this Friday.

  2. emilyramos

    May 29, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    First drafts are always pesky – but the important thing is to set it aside when you are done and take a deep breath. Well, that and not beating yourself up as you reread it. 🙂 I’ve found having an audience helps me get through the first draft. If I have even one person expecting the next chapter, I am much more likely to write it than if I just keep it locked away on my computer. Of course, I hate sharing those awful first chapters, but doing so gives me the motivation to write the second draft – to prove I can write well! 🙂

  3. Richard Razo

    June 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    My advise is on defeating this creature is to offer some advise that came up ages ago…Sir Philip Sydney says…Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show,
    That the dear She might take some pleasure of my pain,
    Pleasure might cause her read, reading might make her know,
    Knowledge might pity win, and pity grace obtain,—
    I sought fit words to paint the blackest face of woe,
    Studying inventions fine, her wits to entertain,
    Oft turning others’ leaves, to see if thence would flow
    Some fresh and fruitful showers upon my sunburned brain.
    But words came halting forth, wanting Invention’s stay:
    Invention, Nature’s child, fled step-dame Study’s blows,
    And others’ feet still seemed but strangers in my way.
    Thus great with child to speak, and helpless in my throes,
    Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite:
    “Fool,” said my Muse to me, “look in thy heart and write.”


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