Write Badly, Then Fix It

I just pulled On Writing, Stephen King’s memoir of the writing craft, from my bookshelf. You don’t have to be a fiction writer to glean some great stuff from the horror icon. I highly recommend this short tome on writing.

Anyway, one of the things King says is to set a daily word limit. His is 1,000 words.

The daily word limit makes more sense for those writing long feature articles or books, but the underlying point is that you really have to apply yourself to get the words on the page or screen. And it’s tough, because writing is scary for most people. No one wants to suck.

My self-talk for writing a draft of any kind or length is simple: I’ll write it badly. Then I’ll fix it.

This frees me up. It’s downright liberating. You just sit down and write. As someone once said, no one has to see your first draft (except you).

And you know what? Oftentimes the first draft is not total crap. But if it is, that’s OK. Put on your rewriting and editing hats and fix it.