“Convince yourself that you are working in clay, not marble; on paper, not eternal bronze: let that first sentence be as stupid as it wishes.” Jacques Barzun
Here’s what Dinty W. Moore has to say about this in his compact and wonderful guide, The Mindful Writer:
“One secret that so many accomplished writers now and many beginning writers have yet to discover is the freedon and importance of lousy first drafts.
“Writing, after all, is an illusion of sorts. When I pick up a novel written by a gifted writer, it seems that every word is precisely where it needs to be, every metaphor is apt and vivid, and every movement of plot idea is natural and inevitable. The story is so good, I hear myself thinking, that it couldn’t have been written any other way.
“It is a short leap from such thought to imagining that the writer is a genius of some sort, gifted in way;s that mere mortals will never be gifted. That writer in your imagination sits down at the desk—usually this imaginary desk is highly polished, or rare wood, centered in an airy, immaculate room, facing a window with a view of the infinite sea—puts fingers to keyboard or pencil to pad and these perfect, breathtaking,inevitable words, images, scenes, and ideas simply flow onto the page.
“I have this fantasy, I know.
“But I had also had occasion to talk with countless accomplished writers, and what they’ll say again and again is, ‘You should have seen what a mess this was in the beginning.’ Or, ‘Believe me, for the first ten drafts I had no idea what this was even going to be about.’ Or ‘Man, I sweated blood on this thing and thought it would never resolve itself.’
“Lousy first drafts allow you to have a base, something to which you can respond. Those lousy first drafts are not carved into marble; they are carved into soft clay, and they can be formed, and reformed again, endlessly, as they should.”
What a great reminder these words are to us as we all write on!
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