Kitchen Sink That First Draft

Josh Swiller

Lists of writing tips are always popular (and sometimes overdone), but Josh Swiller’s 12 tips in the latest Glimmer Train bulletin are a delight to read. Two of my favorite tips, directly quoted:

  • Kitchen sink that first draft. Throw every damn thing in there. If you aren’t sure something belongs, if you aren’t even remotely clear what the point of a certain tangent is—in it goes. It can help to do this draft with pen and paper, in poor handwriting, so you can’t be eying and judging what you’ve put down as you go along.
  • And throughout the process, please recognize and celebrate the fact that writing is completely ridiculous. At any moment—say when you’re agonizing over whether to use the word “recognize” or “understand” or even just the pedestrian “know”—at that moment, a single willow branch abounds with the glory of a thousand star deaths. Your own fingers typing away on the keyboard, in their fine motor control and patchwork unique-to-all-existence wrinkles, are the Grand Central Station of four billion years of evolution. Are your feet crossed at the ankles? Imagine that! Does it matter whether your obvious artistic brilliance is recognized and understood and known? It does not, brother. Drown your sorrows over this travesty in the dust motes dancing in the sunbeams or in your old dog’s sighs. Life is too short and too glorious for resentment.

Read the other excellent tips over at the Glimmer Train site.

Plus, check out these other essays on writing from the latest bulletin:

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Posted in Creativity + Inspiration.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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