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First drafts

Do you like writing first drafts?

Lots of people love starting a new project. They’re brimming over with ideas for fascinating characters and surprising plot twists.

But I hate them. I stare at the blank page. I write a few words and then edit the life out of them. I get to the end of a scene, and then rewrite it over and over, even though I tell other people to keep moving forward with the story (why can’t I take my own advice?) It all just feels impossible.

Today I’m pulling out a new project to work on. It’s something I started earlier in the year, but put aside, so it’s like starting over. Here I am, staring at my screen, and trying to remember how I’ve done this before. And that’s when I remember—Kaizen—One Small Step Can Change Your Life.

It’s a book a read two years ago, that suggests starting with steps that are so small and easy, you can’t not do them. If you’re trying to convince yourself to exercise, a small step might be to march on the spot in front of your TV for 5 minutes every day. For me, it means writing for 10 minutes every day. I even have the Streaks app on my iPod Touch so I can’t cheat and miss a day. 10 minutes is such a short time I have no excuse not to do it. And it’s too short a time to worry about being perfect. All that matters is writing something, anything. Surprisingly, the words add up. You wouldn’t think so, but even 10 minutes a day is enough to build some momentum and carry you forward.

So I’m tightening my seatbelt and setting my timer for 10 minutes. Want to join me?