For most writers, getting started is the hardest part. You may be bursting with good ideas. But somehow, what comes out on paper is……horrible. Because of that disconnect, it’s easy to put writing off.
A major reason writers procrastinate is that little voice inside our heads. It’s the voice that tells you your writing is awful and will never improve. Talk with other writers and you’ll find out what a common experience this is.
If you want to write, however, you must learn to get past this voice by being more accepting of your initial efforts. Or as writing instructor Heather Sellers says, “dare to suck.” Most writing is bad in the beginning. Writing awful first drafts can be challenging for professionals, who are used to being competent. But once you get through this first stage, it gets much easier.
One more thing. As you start writing, avoid drawing false conclusions about your writing based on comparisons with others. Keep that in mind that other people’s writing, although it appears effortless to you, was likely the result of a great deal of effort. So it is absurd to compare your unedited text—especially first drafts– to someone else’s final version, and conclude you can’t write. As you begin, remember the admonition of author Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird, p. 25).
Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper.
Dr. Kendall-Tackett specializes in women's-health research including breastfeeding, depression, trauma, and health psychology. Her research interests include the psychoneuroimmunology of maternal depression and the lifetime health effects of trauma.
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