No matter how many times you hear it, it’s still tricky to get the whole “crappy first draft” thing through your head. I mean, deep into that space where the writing happens… For some reason, even knowing that you just have to get it done, that it can be horrible, that it will never be seen—none of that makes it easier to feel like your writing is just… bad.
But one little, counterintuitive trick has actually been working for me.
As I write, and I don’t do it on purpose, but sometimes I’ll make little mistakes. I’ll make giant mistakes, too, and bad plot choices, and horrible dialogue, and the rest—but sometimes there’s a little mistake that I realize I could change. I forgot to mention a small but important detail, or I wrote a line of dialogue that I know is not going to stay. Or maybe I said a character was there, but then forgot to have them participate in the scene at all.
But I leave it. Part of this is just “keep moving forward,” but another part is more subtle. By knowing that there’s something small in my draft that I will have to fix, it somehow settles in my mind more fully the idea that the whole thing will be fixed. Once I can force my mind to accept the mistake as a part of the first draft, but not a part of what the final project will be, the easier I can accept the rest of the first draft as not being the final project.
I don’t know if this makes sense to anyone but me, but in my experience so far, I have to constantly create a sense of cognitive dissonance between wanting to write well and needing to just write. It’s something I just have to keep reminding myself, over and over.
These tiny little mistakes (deliberate in being left unfixed) somehow help make it easier.