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How do writers overcome the initial hump of procrastination and get into the rhythm and momentum of writing a story?

You’re on a quest for purple unicorns. There is no secret button that summons up our creativity.

Every word we write is a victory against distraction, self-doubt, and obligation. It’s a battle against what Steven Pressfield dubs Resistance or, more simply, “the enemy”:

“The writer is an infantryman. He knows that progress is measured in yards of dirt extracted from the enemy one day, one hour, one minute at a time and paid for in blood.”

I say all that, and then I add the “but”….

But…

But there is an exception for your first draft. Your first draft should be fun. Check your ego at the door. There shouldn’t be the slightest hint of self-consciousness on the page.

Why?

Because it’s a FIRST DRAFT!

And no one’s going to read your first draft (please don’t tell me you’d subject a loved one to that!). It’d be like an artist showing you a sloppy sketch and asking what you think of his painting.

First drafts are not for sharing.

Come up with an idea that excites you and start writing. Delete nothing. Let words spill onto the page. The muse does not like erasers or DELETE keys. She flees from them.

She only comes when your ego’s slunk away. She comes smiling with fresh-baked cookies, blankets and decanters full of wine.

When you’re finished with that first draft… it will be pitiful.

But it will be something. And that something marks the beginning of the real work. The enemy sees that first draft and notes it for what it is: an all-out declaration of war. You’ve dug your trench, oiled your gun and twisted on your bayonet.

What you do next determines whether you’re a writer or simply someone who likes the idea of being a writer.

I originally wrote this post on Quora.

Fredrick Marion

Fredrick Marion

I like books that refuse to let you sleep at night. I like coffee, talking animals and hearing from readers. Sign up for my email newsletter, and I’ll send my latest blog posts to your inbox!

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