If I could count the number of times I heard someone tell me they wanted to blog but they didn’t know what to say, or their brain turns into a hopeless mess of nonsensical ideas when they see the blinking dot on the computer screen I tell them to stop..take a deep breath and pound out that shitty first draft.
I first came up with the idea of shitty first drafts when I first read Bird by Bird. Before I faced the same issue of thinking that what I typed first had to be perfect. I believed that skilled writers wrote that way naturally. That the words just flowed perfectly from their brain into the computer screen. I thought I was the only one who seemed to struggle and fight for every word. Many times I felt that what I wrote was a total piece of shit and I would just delete it and wonder why can’t I be a GOOOD writer?!?
A college professor encouraged me to read Bird by Bird, and it was life changing. Seriously. Here was an accomplished writer who owned the fact that what she first put on the page was crap. She encouraged people to get that “shitty first draft” down and then revise revise revise.
I came to understand that what we read as the finished product is NOT what the author wrote down at 2 am when inspiration struck. No… What we see is the result of some serious editing, and rewriting and rewriting til their mind and fingers bleed and the story is permanently ingrained in their soul, and they are sick of it. The publishing houses all have a team of people to edit a book.
They can’t edit a blank page, and that is why it is so important to get that first draft down. And DO NOT attempt to “edit as you go” I have tried that, and it was a piece of shit. Ha Turn off you inner editors brain write write write
Some days it will feel like pulling rotten stumpy teeth out trying to get words on the page. In fact, this article idea came to me when I was working on something else and everything that I wrote stunk like week old fish. I was telling a friend that all my work was shit and maybe I should just give up and get a ‘traditional” job then he asked,” What would I tell someone if they said that?” and I would tell that person to get that shitty first draft down. That the faster you get the crap out of your brain, the faster the good stuff will come.
I think when we write we rip our soul open a little more each time and we feel naked and as if our souls are on display and people can see all of our secret sins and we freeze up, and we feel like there is no way to hide. And when people criticize your SOUL well it hurts. So we think it must be pure perfection or nothing at all.
But here is the thing no one is going to see the shitty first draft unless you show it to them. It is between you and your computer. I have talked with enough people that everyone thinks their first draft is horrible. We are our own worst critics.
It can be hard to get past that bitchy inner editor. Which is why I love morning pages. I use Day One to type out 750-1000 words after I work out and I write down everything that is in my brain. I get it all out so that there is space to let the words that I want to show the world come out. For a long time, I did not know about morning pages. A couple of years a go someone gifted me The Artist Way. At first, I was like this is all hokey stuff but as time went on, I saw that if I empty my brain, then I am in a better frame of mind to put my inner bitch editor up and write more freely.You have to get past the part of you that says you can’t write and just get your thoughts down. The first draft is only a skeleton of what you will show to the world. Click To Tweet
No one will see it!
That is the important thing to remember when you are writing something for your blog. I know so many people who struggle with this and they just sorta give up. I was looking at Pinterest the other day, and I saw how many blogs have been abandoned or neglected, and this makes me sad. This is true especially of book bloggers that I used to follow. People think ohhhh I love to read and free books, but they fail to realize how much time and effort the top bloggers in any niche put into their blogs. You can’t just whip something up and expect it go viral.
But you have to START
So write down the shitty first draft. Pour your heart out. Dig deep inside and put it all on the page.
Ever since I read Bird by Bird, I have followed her advice and just sat down and opened up Scrivener and Brain.Fm and type. Some day the words just flow, and sometimes it is like pulling teeth to get anything worth typing about on the page but still, I write, and I remind myself that this is only the shitty first draft and I rip my soul open and type.
My writing has considerably improved since I started doing this. I remember back in the days when I was felt it had to be perfect to put it down, but it does not. Even when it is seriously shitty, I put it down, and then later I go back and revise it. Scrivener is great for this. You can have two documents open side by side. The shitty first draft and the better second draft
This is a pic of me working on an article in Scrivener. I had what a REALLY shitty first draft was. In fact, it was so shitty that it was painful to read. But alas I opened it up and fixed it.
Never be afraid of your shitty first draft.
No one will see it
Open up Scrivener and get to writing!
See All the Things in my Writing Toolbox!
Sign up to for regular updates and to see what I use to write!