The shit draft

The shit draft

I’m about to tell you a big secret about writing. It’s a secret that can help you become a better writer, even a passionate writer. It will free you from a great deal of anxiety, procrastination, and misunderstanding about what writing is.

The secret is the Shit Draft.

Most creative people and artists know that their subconscious minds are much smarter than their conscious minds. We access the subconscious mind through creative energy. Remember that parent or teacher who admonished you to just sit down and get to work? They might have been on to something, although they may not have known how nurture creativity.

That’s what the Shit Draft is for. It’s pre-First Draft. It is, in fact, pre-cognitive. It’s a blob of written thoughts, ideas, impressions, and words that are unpublishable and sometimes nonsensical. The Shit Draft is an act of surrender.

Rather than sitting down to Write The Thing, begin instead by sitting down to release the crap. Whatever your specific process* look like, there are some guidelines:

Rules of the Shit Draft

Process trumps content

It does not matter what comes out in your Shit Draft. The process of producing it is what matters because it opens a channel to your subconscious mind, where all your best ideas are stuck.

Green-light only

Write non-stop with no filter. Do not pause to think, re-reread, or edit your output. Just let it all come out in an uninterrupted flow.

Let it sit

Let your Shit Draft sit for a while, marinating its own pungency for a few days, or a few hours at minimum. Forget about it, go do other things.

Find a gem

After a period of marinating, revisit the Shit Draft. Do not cringe. Accept it for what it is – unpublishable crap – and mine it for gems. Somewhere in that pile of unformed ideas there is a nugget that will solve your dilemma and spark your First Draft. Sometimes, you’ll find a whole thread of thought worth pursuing.

There are numerous ways that you can approach the Shit Draft. The Essential Voice service helps individuals uncover the best writing process for them – including the getting-started process.

~ Maria Ford

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

 ̶ Ernest Hemingway