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J is for Judgment

J is for Judgment
This entry is part 10 of 26 in the series A to Z 2014

No passing judgment allowed on first drafts.

I’m a big fan of just getting started, just putting down the first words, taking those first steps up the mountain. It’s the beginning of something, probably not the end, possibly not the middle, but it’s just a few steps in a certain direction. You might not even know where you’re going. But you have to get started.

If someone is looking over your shoulder on your first draft, it’s more like a second draft.

You might not get to a second draft if you’re self-conscious about your first. Or your first draft might not really be a first draft if someone is watching over you (or at least you have the impression that’s happening) as you’ll go over it in your head, make sure it’s good enough. But you lose something, you lose that purity of the original thought. Rough, raw, and possibly radioactive, but it’s that first thought that’s often a good one. It might not exist if you were hindered in some way about letting it out, setting it free, giving it life.

So no judgment allowed on something you start. You don’t have to finish it, you don’t even have to get to the middle. But you have to start.

They started the business with the plan that each line would only run 50 each. That didn't last.

They started the business with the plan that each line would only run 50 each. That didn’t last.



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  1. Marcy

    Great advice! Now if I can only get back to that first draft and finish it!

  2. njmagas

    There hasn’t been a single WIP I’ve run through that I haven’t hated my first draft (OK, maybe I liked my last one just a little), but I tell them all, “You can be fixed in revision”. Sometimes I know I’m just lying to them so they don’t grow a complex.

    • Bradley

      I had to look up WIP (Work in Progress, right?). I love that you’re concerned enough about your drafts, as if they have feelings, that they’re going to grown a complex. Or hmm, maybe they DO have feelings! Oh no, I’ve been so neglectful. At least I give them birth, I grant them life, I bring them into the world!

  3. Veronica Sicoe

    “Rough, raw, and possibly radioactive.”

    Love that. it’s how my first drafts feel like. 🙂

    • Bradley

      Total dork that I am, I thought, “Hey, that’s a cool quote, where’d she get that?” Oh, that was me. Duh. Thanks for the note … and reminding me to go back and read my own writing … sometimes it might be worth quoting.


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