The best way to create polished writing, paradoxically, is to write a terrible first draft.
Anne LaMott begins with what she calls a “shitty first draft.” Her goal is to get something—anything—down. By drafting freely, she creates momentum. She then goes with the flow, trusting she can shape the piece later.
Carolyn Kaufman agrees that writers should “Always Write Terrible First Drafts.” However, she thinks of the first draft as building a skeleton. Her first draft lays out the bare bones of a piece. Each successive draft adds a layer to flesh out the framework: plot twists; character development; “the stuff,” she says, “that makes your story (forgive me for using this word) meaty.” She adds the finishing touches, such as skin and hair, only after the skeleton is fully fleshed out.
Her strategy, like LaMott’s, separates drafting and polishing. Either method can silence your inner critic and create flow. Some writers may revel in the freedom of letting a “shitty first draft” sprawl it may. If you crave a little more structure, try Kaufman’s skeletal approach:
Image by Mikael Häggström https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AHuman_skeleton_front_-_no_labels.svgFile:svg