Why You Have to Write 1st Draft Holding Nose

The pain of writing for me is the horrifying sense that I am producing crap. The background chant in my brain as I work is, “yousuckyousuckyousuckyousuckyousuck ….” But somehow I force myself to keep going, because I know from experience that the ONLY way I have any hope of writing something of any quality at all is by puking out an awful first draft, then rewriting it over and over, slowly comprehending where the holes and errors are, and draft by draft filling, correcting, and only then, finally seeing some actual opportunities to do something good. Now, as a client and I are finishing the final drafts of her book project, she sent me the following quote, which has buoyed me amazingly.


  • “If there is aught of good in the style, it is the result of ceaseless toil in rewriting. Everything comes out wrong with me at first; but when once objectified I can torture and poke and scrape and pat it till it offends me no more.”
  • William James

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