You don’t need to know where you’re going, to start.

And all good writing starts with less than good first attempts.

That’s the way of writing.


You just need to start somewhere. And by getting something – almost anything – down on paper (or pixel) the hardest part is almost done. Otherwise fear sets in, dread takes over and it never happens.

Writing is an ongoing process. Remember that there is no such thing as writing, just re-writing.

So. Just. Start.

But where? How?

It’s been called many things, but at its most basic it’s a draft.

I’ve suggested thinking of it as a prototype. Because a prototype isn’t written for the reader, it’s written for the writer.

Anne Lamott calls them the “Shitty first drafts,” in her bestselling novel Bird by Bird (non affiliate).

But of late, given my family’s more than colourful first-hand experience of the word, I’ve come closer to Marion Roach Smith’s phrase that her best friend introduced her to – the vomit draft.

In all its glory, for me the vomit draft best describes the guts and glory experience of writing. Well, actually starting.

There is something about the physicality of getting all that bad stuff out that helps you through the writing process, especially when it’s (the writing that is) isn’t flowing.

So instead of moaning about it, go ahead and chuck that first draft up onto the page.

If that one doesn’t work, throw up another.

Dump it and its colourful content everywhere, and as much as you want.

Somewhere in the mess will be some gems.

Find them and flush the rest away.

Now the cleaning up job begins.


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