Just Write

When the final product satisfies.

Elizabeth Sims

Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, poetry, songs, or whatever you write, this might help understand why the final product isn’t working.

Excerpted from “Rough it Up,” by Elizabeth Sims, Writer’s Digest Magazine, February 2009,

Get messy with your first draft to get to the good stuff. 

As Ernest Hemingway famously said, “The first draft of anything is sh*t.”

For years, I didn’t understand. When I started writing fiction seriously, I kept trying to get it right the first time. Over time, as I got rougher with my first drafts, my finished work got better and better.

Why does a coherent first draft give birth to a stilted finished product?

Because it means you haven’t let it flow.

You haven’t given yourself permission to make mistakes because you haven’t forgiven yourself for past ones.

Admit it: Unless your throttle’s wide open, you’re not giving it everything you’ve got.

Creativity in writing isn’t a linear process, even though we read in a linear fashion and the words must go on the page one after the other; even though we must put our thoughts and words in order so the reader can make sense of them.

Writing, in fact, is the only art that is literally one-dimensional.

If you can be gut-level honest with yourself, you’ve really got a shot at your readers.

 And the only way to find that honesty is to not overthink it. 

Consider your pen your paintbrush.

For your writing to come alive — to be multi-dimensional — you must barter away some control.

The rewards are worth it.

Prompts to inspire writing.

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