Dear First Draft Writer…

Dear First Draft Writer,

You’re going to spend more minutes in avoidance than in actually writing today, but you know what? That’s okay. Because you’re eventually going to face that blank page in front of you, and you know what you’re going to do? You’re going to write. You’re going to buckle down with a huge sense of dread, and you’re going to WRITE. It’s going to be hard and you’re going to hate it at first, but you will write. And after awhile — and you’re going to have to trust me on this one here — you’ll forget why you ever hated it.

~

Dear First Draft Writer,

Don’t worry about time. The more you think about time, the less time you have. When it comes to writing and art in general, there could always be more time. It would be nice if we could spend unlimited time mulling over exactly what it is we want to say to the world. The sad truth is, time is very limited. When we were kids, there was time oozing out of everywhere, but most of us grew out of that stage quicker than we anticipated and now we’re sitting here getting existential and freaking out.

The best solution for this situation is simple: just write, my dear little sad burrito.

Wanna know a secret? There actually is time. Sure, you have to kind of produce it out of thin air, but it’s there! There are a thousand little intervals in the day in which all we’re doing is fiddling awkwardly with our phones. Now, I’m not saying you need to make yourself guilty for all the times you’re watching YouTube or scrolling through Pinterest when you could be writing! I’m just saying this: when you have a tiny sliver of a quiet moment and there’s nothing else but fear stopping you, just write. Write something as seemingly insignificant as a sentence or a paragraph — the way he smiled at her, how the sky looked that day, the smell of the head cheerleader’s overbearing perfume… Put it down in Notes on your iPhone. Write little things on scraps of paper or corners of napkins or sticky notes. Tiny bits add up!

I repeat: The more we go looking for time, the less time we have. The best we can do is to let time take care of itself and just write.

~

Dear First Draft Writer,

You’re never going to feel perfectly at peace with this writing thing. Just get that idea out of your head right now. It ain’t going to happen.

Okay, yeah, sure. There is that adrenaline of inspiration that we writers adore. And there’s that major sense of accomplishment when you’ve met your word goal for the day. But for a major chunk of it, WRITING HURTS …And that is perfectly fine and I’ll tell you why: art is going to be a struggle. It’s going to frustrate you. It’s going to perplex you. It’s going to make your brain feel like it’s turned into soup.

You will absolutely have idyllic moments where the world fades away and it’s nothing but the tippy-tap of those lovely keys and the swooping, swirling colors of the world you’ve created in your mind. But hear me when I say this: When it becomes a struggle — a tear-your-hair-out, question-why-you-ever-started-writing-in-the-first-place kind of struggle — WE DO NOT STOP WRITING. We sally forth! We equip ourselves with positive quotations, cups of tea, and our most savage instincts because now, my dear first draft writer, oh yes, now is when you get to see what you’re made of.

Just because writing became hard doesn’t mean you stopped being a writer. Let me repeat that: just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean you aren’t a writer anymore! It doesn’t mean you’re not a good writer anymore either.

We writers, we artists, must be full of sheer grit — willing to face our vulnerabilities with a steady hand and a keen eye. And soldier, I ain’t going to let you give up just yet.

~

Dear First Draft Writer,

A word or two on “originality”:

CHUCK IT.

I know you have this weird, unquenchable desire to be unique and different and special and a breath of fresh, clean summer air. Maybe not the exact wording of that last one, but you know what I mean. I get you! Originality is something so many artists desire. We want to establish our individual identities in our art. Writer, that sounds great and all, but you know what?

Originality is not the same as individuality. Individuality does not require originality.

Art always speaks about its artist. As long as you’re pursuing little more than your own specialness, all that people will see is a clumsy fumble to be something that no one’s seen before. Which, by the way, is entirely impossible. Art will always be made up of everything we’ve ever been inspired by.

We are all of us grand imposter salads. But in the very best way.

So, don’t chase originality. Instead, chase truth. Just do your very best to express the truth as you know it to be, and your individuality will not stay hidden.

~

Dear First Draft Writer,

You WANT to write this book. Don’t you get your dear tired brain worried over that. Believe me, you want to write it. You want it so bad. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to get started on it. Maybe you want it so bad, you’re afraid to even start because if you do, maybe it won’t be as good as you imagined it.

I know avoidance is killer. I know you wrote a to-do-today list of high aspirations that, in reality, aren’t going to be achieved for weeks. I know when you compare what you want to be to what you actually are, it hits so hard you don’t know if you’ll ever breathe properly again. I don’t care. 

Because you want to do this. And I believe with all of my heart that you will.

~

Dear First Draft Writer,

YOU, my friend, are brave. You are doing something not just any flounder in this big ol’ sea has the guts do to. You are being vulnerable on paper. You are creating the foundations for a world that will later be refined. It is shaky and horrid and unstable now, but one day it will be more. It will be so much more that past you would weep with joy if she saw how very far you had made it. That you isn’t positive if you’ll make it much further, you know. But you will. You will go so far.

I believe in that. I believe in you.

 

 

~

Dear First Draft Writer,

Instead of working on chapter eight of your current project, you stayed up late to work on this blog post out of pure avoidance…

I feel you girl.

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