Overcoming Writer's Regret

My old, failed writing process:

The stumbling point was my old process. I would pick a subject and think about it several days. By the time I was ready to write, the whole thing was in my head in the right order and already pretty well written. My first draft was sometimes better than the final drafts of some amateurs. I corrected for spelling and occasionally reworded things but no major editing was ever needed. Sometimes it came out pretty great, at least for me. Occasionally I felt I had outdone myself.

Here is the problem: by never doing a true rough draft I always had to wonder if my first effort on a new writing project would live up to something that was finished. That mental comparison of finished works to whatever was about to get typed onto my computer screen often stalled me completely. If I had recently finished something of which I thought highly, I might not be able to write again for months. My mind constantly debated my current level of skill. Was past good work a fluke, never to be repeated? I would sit down to write and remember the quality of some previous good effort. I mentally compared it to the garbage showing up on my computer screen at that moment. My critical mind said, “This is crap.”

And the words stopped coming.

And then there were times when I just didn't feel inspired. What a romantic notion: to wait for your muse. The muse is a fickle scoundrel, as it turns out, if it exists at all. What I have learned so far and would advise any new writer is this: 

Writer’s block is a crock.
If you wait for your muse you lose.
Stop debating, stop waiting, stop slighting your craft.
Pick a time, sit down, start writing rough draft.

There has always been a way to defeat writer’s block. Writers, serious writers, face the exact same “critical mind” and missing muse issues. The difference is: they took the time to learn how to deal with it. 

And now, so have I.

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