Anything worth doing is worth doing. Period.

It’s been said that anything worth doing is worth doing well, or, that anything worth doing is worth doing poorly, but I suggest that anything worth doing is worth doing. Period.

Were you great at anything the first time you attempted a new task? It’s unlikely. Did any of the great Masters paint a masterpiece when they first sat down to paint? Hardly. Any art history student will tell you that these painters had sketches upon sketches of what was later to become their masterwork.

So why do we as writers and authors believe that the first draft of anything we write will be perfect? This was the topic of discussion at Allie Pleiter’s and my most recent PAGES group coaching meeting.

What does it mean to write a first draft? It means that it will not be perfect, and that it will need to be edited and reedited until it is worthy of publication.

So, let’s let first drafts be just that—first drafts (or as Allie likes to say, “discovery drafts”).

While this is easy to say, like so much of life, it’s harder to do. So what advice did our PAGES group discuss during the “shared wisdom” portion of our meeting?

Know that it won’t be perfect. Allowing yourself to just write that “shi!!y first draft” (in Anne Lamott’s words) is a start. Don’t be afraid to throw up on the page as someone has inelegantly said.

Don’t overthink it. Write fast. Put on a timer. Don’t be swayed by that annoying red squiggly link that says “you’ve goofed” in WORD. Write, write, write.

Know that you have an editing process in place. I advise my clients to first write the discovery draft before making edits, then print the document double-sided with page numbers and put it in a binder. Next, sit down with a red pen and post-its to note what needs to be changed. That will be followed by an editorial board review (think peer review), and then followed by an edit by a professional book editor.

Give yourself grace. Would you be this hard on your best friend or loved one? Give yourself a pat on the back for giving it your best effort, knowing that this is not your finished work.

I believe that writing is worth doing. So just do it.


Thanks to the PAGES group coaching for these great ideas. If you’d like to learn more about group coaching for writers, check it out here!

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