Sometimes, I really don’t like writing.
I know, sounds funny, doesn’t it? A writing major that doesn’t like to write.
Well, I love being a writer. But writing? It’s complicated.
I used to spend hours staring at a blank page or screen just waiting for inspiration to strike. Other times I’d completely overthink my topic and fear the idea wouldn’t turn out perfect the first time.
Recently, I’ve learned to appreciate rough drafts. They aren’t supposed to be perfect. Ever.
And they won’t be. Ever.
The only time I believe my first draft is “perfect” is when I’ve stayed up until an unreasonable hour working on a last-minute assignment. And believe me, it’s far from perfect. There’s always something that can be improved no matter how confident you are in your writing.
I have a tip for the next time you have to write something:
Just write it. No fear. No hesitations. And absolutely no editing. Just turn off the nagging part of your brain that reminds you about a missed comma or misspelled word. Pour the words onto the page.
This semester, I’m taking EN 360: Advanced Grammar and Composition. The mention of this course makes a lot of students cringe. I’ll admit, it’s not easy, but the free writings from this class have completely changed my writing process.
The concept is simple: write—with an actual pen and paper—for 10 minutes straight, and try to fill two whole pages (double-spaced). You can write about anything you want. You just have to sit down and write. Open the floodgates of your mind.
I love these assignments and have started using this “free writing” concept for everything: essays, papers, stories, and blog posts (yes, even this one).
Often, you may know the material, but you’re afraid to write it down or can’t seem to wrangle your thoughts. Well, get them out of your head and onto paper, and the hardest part is already done. You started. It’s so much easier to figure out what information to cut or rearrange when you see it all in print.
My encouragement to you is to write and write freely. Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Be patient; the time will come for making sense of the mess—it’s called editing.
Rough drafts are meant to be rough. Let them be.15