in danger of ink poisoning

October 20, 2019

Thing is, when I do sit down to write I’m usually instantly engrossed. Hours speed away as I tug sentences into my preferred shape, fight to express ideas gracefully, rhythmically. No elation equals that produced by a finely crafted piece of work. I know that, but I can never remember it before I’ve begun. Why? I’m not an idiot. And just as nothing equals the elation of a finely crafted piece, so nothing tops the dread in the pit of my guts before I first sit to craft. What on earth am I scared of, eh?

Do I fancy myself in danger of ink poisoning, death by paper cut? Course not. I’m frightened I’m about to produce rubbish. And rightly so: the first draft is always rubbish. Trick is not to be frightened by the rubbish. Allow yourself to write the biggest pile of suffocatingly stinking ordure of which you’re capable. Once you’ve got that in place you can start to shape it. Just don’t compare your first efforts to Middlemarch, or you’ll be stabbing pens through your eyeballs before you can say edit. I bet Eliot’s first efforts were lousy too. Trick is not to worry about it.

Melissa Todd
The trick to Writing is