I learned many, many things while earning a Master’s degree at Seminary of the Southwest, but one valuable tidbit which affected me the most and has stayed with me firmly is the concept which was shared by Professor Claire Columbo in the most amazing writing class. Claire drove home the importance of the SFD aka Shitty First Draft. In Ann Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird, the author presents the idea of getting comfortable with getting the ideas down on paper when doing any form of writing project especially a lengthy work such as a book. First run through, just write it all down. Get it out. Put it out there on paper no matter how yucky, crummy or embarrassing. The shitty first draft. Don’t edit and don’t correct. I repeat (for those of us who are sometimes anal about editing) don’t look back. March on.
Right now I am calling these words to mind as I struggle to avoid changing or correcting the first draft of the book I am writing. I go back and reread what I have written and I cringe, but Sister Ann is speaking in my ear, “Don’t touch it!” I have forced myself to just throw the jello up against the wall. Most won’t stick, but the idea is there.
I continue to resist the urge to rewrite and clean up the awkward mess that is my second book. No, no, no. Leave it. Wait. Don’t touch. Don’t worry. It will be just as it is supposed to be, I just know it. Being uncomfortable with the uncomfortable. Another of those life lessons, right?