Force Yourself to Write Well by Convincing Yourself to Write Poorly

One of the best things about NaNoWriMo, or any horrific deadline, is that it makes you write fast. (Hello procrastinators.) If you write fast — if your stated goal is fast writing — then you don’t have time to do the first thing that interrupts your writing flow: Consider if what you’re writing is good for.

Worse than thinking about whether what you are writing is good is actually trying to answer the question while writing. Aside from the fact that it means stopping to go back and read, evaluating your work is poison to making it. Evaluation and generation are completely different ways of thinking, and pretty soon you start to worry about how well you write before you write. And with that guys, the game is over. I stopped in place, paralyzed by anxiety, I am sure that your ideas are rubbish, here you are: do not write.

Okay, but then there you are, confident that your ideas are rubbish and not written. What are you doing?

Write a bad draft.

Make it your goal. Do it. You’ll find it’s a million times easier to get started if you say to yourself, “I’ll just write a shitty version of this,” than if there is any pressure to do what you write well. Half the time, a “shitty draft” will be pretty good anyway – once you shut off your inner critic, all your writing energy is spent on writing, not worrying about your work – but even really shitty drafts can be improved. There is so much you can do with revision, from reorganizing the structure to drafting new paragraphs and adjusting the language of the sentence.

You just need to write the first draft first. So write bad.


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