“Messy first drafts,” I tell my students, “are not only common for professional writers, but necessary.” Because, as Professor Furnish used to tell us grad students, “90% of all good writing is revised writing.”
And, of course, one can’t revise what isn’t there.
Sounds easy—to produce a collection of disjointed thoughts that touch on what we hope to say but somehow can’t say, at least not as plainly and persuasively as we intend.
But it’s not easy—because we don’t like messes, especially the ones we create. And so we stare at the empty page and wait, and stare some more, and wait some more and more.
Which is what I’ve been doing most of the last hour.
Perfectionism is not my friend.