6 vital reasons you should write a horrible first draft

Perfectionism, at least when you’re first putting words on paper or on the screen, hinders creativity and free association. You can—and certainly should—edit later. For now, have fun.

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This article originally ran on PR Daily in September of 2017.

Writing flawed copy can be freeing.

My library of books about writing expands every year, but no author has shaped and affirmed my writing process like Anne Lamott.

In “Bird by Bird,” Lamott liberated me with these words:

Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper.

I was already creating horrible first drafts, but I didn’t trust them. If I was a “good” writer, wouldn’t the words pour forth in perfect order?

Lamott taught me that my terrible first drafts are not just OK; they are necessary.

I pass her wisdom along to every writer I coach or train or advise, whether they’re writing at work, starting a blog, contemplating a memoir or simply keeping a journal.

You have to start somewhere, so start with a mess. Write a stream-of-consciousness-style draft. Silence your inner critic. Don’t edit, reorganize, second-guess or fact-check. It doesn’t have to be good.

Why is it good advice to write a bad draft?

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