Writing a shitty rough draft requires some willingness. After all, that’s not what you want. You want prose that if not deathless, at least gets read by a number of readers and moves at least a few.
I submit until and unless you’re willing to throw yourself into what you know is likely to be a truly shitty rough draft, you’re not yet mature as a writer.
What I mean by shitty rough draft
I first heard this term when Molly Gordon, a wonderful coach used it during a workshop years ago. It’s now a mostly legit search term. Molly’s so ladylike I was briefly shocked.
I also knew immediately what she meant. It’s that rough, oh so rough draft I allow myself as a way to actually begin a project. I sometimes use it as dumping ground, with lists, sentences, phrases and links to who knows what. It can be a mind map or just a list on paper. With luck there’s a thread of the story I’m trying to tell, or of the organization I’m working to bring to the idea, whatever it is.
Lose your fear of perfection that stalls you
Often we find ourselves staring at a blank screen feeling like we’re idiots because we are afraid what we write will be dreck. Which is what a rough draft often is.
Being willing to just write regardless of the quality frees you from those notions. After all, most of us rarely write something that doesn’t require rewriting. That’s the purpose of the rough draft, to get the ideas down on paper (screen) so we can begin to hone them through rewriting. Sometimes that rough draft needs to be pretty awful.
Gets the first draft over and done with
Most of us know that once we get a first draft down we’ve really gotten the piece or the project started. That rough draft is proof that we’re writing, we’re doing the work to get it done. We also know that it’s all progress from there to delivery or final copy.
Makes crappy writing okay
A big advantage of being willing to do a very rough draft is we don’t have to judge ourselves as harshly as we might otherwise. After all, we’re not at this point working for a polished piece. The incomplete sentence, the paragraph that doesn’t go anywhere doesn’t matter at this point. We know how to fix those when we get there.
Freeing yourself to just write and write until you’ve got a rough draft increases the odds tremendously that you’ll finish the piece or project. You’ll not only know what you want to say but you’ll know how to polish your writing so it sings.
In drafting, even an awful draft, you’ve captured most of the good ideas you want to express in the article or post or book you’re writing. As you begin to edit you’ll probably even find a sentence or two, maybe more, that are worth keeping.
Do this often enough and you’ll probably find your writing career actually taking off.
What do you think? Do you allow yourself awful rough drafts? Tell us in comments.
Write well and often,