BRENT STOLLER

Writer. Advice giver. Peanut butter and chocolate enthusiast.

Embrace the Bad Draft

There are few things more intimidating than the blank page.

(As I’m being reminded of at the moment.)

Every time I sit down to write, I engage in a staring contest with my vacant screen.

Some times last longer than others. But every time there’s at least a part of me that’s convinced my well has run dry, that this time, I’m not going to know what to say and I’m going to be found out as a fraud.

This self-doubt isn’t restricted to my writing. It lurks whenever I start something new, or think about starting something new.

To counteract this apprehension, be it behind my keyboard or in the real world, I’ve experimented with what seems like an illogical tactic:

Writing the bad draft.

Actually, that’s not taking it far enough.

I haven’t been just writing it; I’ve been embracing it.

Doing this feels counterintuitive, because not only am I producing illegible garbage, I’m celebrating its production.

But the more I’ve done this, the more I’ve reaped its benefits.

For starters, you can’t finish what you don’t start. And for me, arguably the hardest step to take is the first.

Second, unless you’re a genius, it’s likely going to be a process figuring out what you want to say or do, and the best way to say or do it.

I am no genius. So I need time to experiment and evaluate and make mistakes.

By flushing out what’s wrong, I give myself the chance of finding what’s right.

Most importantly, though, it provides a shift in mindset.

Instead of demanding perfection, it lets me off the hook, freeing me up to create, unburdened by the weight of expectation — and the threat of self-flagellation.

I can focus on the process as opposed to the results, which helps me transform what starts as illegible garbage into something more coherent.

Hopefully like this article.

*****

This originally appeared on 100 Naked Words.

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