Write it Down (So You Can Fix it Up)

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It’s snowy in Portland right now. I braved the elements to get this photo. Just for you.

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Then I came inside and put these on.

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So nice. In this quiet weekend, and it is very quiet since Portland basically shuts down when it gets a decent snow (whimps, the lot of us), I’ve been reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. This is a wonderful book that has so much to offer by way of pithy advice and useful quotes for writers. In fact, here’s a great one:

“Almost all writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something–anything–down on paper. A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft–you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft–you fix it up.”

This was such a great reminder today, as I am definitely on the down draft. I was literally wanting to gag this morning at some of the ridiculous things my characters were saying and doing, but you know what? I got it down. Now, at least, I have some material to re-shape on my second draft. Stupid words are better than a blank page and honestly, a few of those words may not end up being so stupid when I read over them again (but I doubt it).

When my brother was little, he refused to take piano lessons. When my mom asked him why, he said he didn’t want to take lessons before he knew how to play. Ludicrous, right? But we do that with our writing. We expect to sit down and play a concerto before we’ve mastered “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

We have to play a lot of dumb pieces before we hit the good stuff.

So how about you? How do you break through the resistance? How do you “get it down” and keep pushing forward in your writing?

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