Your First Draft: Write It Crappy by LA Bourgeois

Your First Draft: Write It Crappy by LA BourgeoisLet’s welcome back LA Bourgeois as she shares with us “Your First Draft: Write It Crappy.” Enjoy!


Anne Lamott wrote in her spectacular treatise, Bird by Bird, that we all must start with a shitty first draft. 

And that’s true. 

A really bad first draft precedes every great book.

I call my first drafts “piles of words.” These piles get shifted and formed like a sandcastle being built at the beach– sand shifting and tides changing as I nudge this little part closer to the other or destroy a turret in order to build a better foundation.

And you know what? 

Writing those crappy first drafts is hard. It’s harder than almost anything.

Crappy First Draft 

Writing these horrible, awful, no good first drafts perks up your inner perfectionist to tell you that you need to go back and edit that right away. 

Drag Judgmental Judy along to tell you that all of the words are awful and you might as well just quit writing altogether.

Sound familiar? 

Yep, you’re not the only one who feels this way. Come over and join us at our table. Today we’re eating ice cream!

Unlatching the talons of that inner perfectionist and judge is hard. And even when you’ve done it once, you’ll find that the effort must be repeated.

Darn it!

But editing is easier with all those words waiting and ready to spark your inspiration. As a wise person once said, “You can’t edit an empty page.”

The crappy first draft can’t be avoided.

Practice Writing a First Draft

Who needs practice to write a first draft? 

They’re awful! 

Why would we practice?

And that’s just the thing. 

Because they are awful. Because we’re ashamed of the horrible wording and inelegant connections and reprehensible metaphors that bubbled up onto the page, we don’t want to write them. 

Who would? Bleargh!

And thus, writing them is difficult. What could be an all-out gonzo playtime is changed into a morass of self-doubt and horror.

Let’s make a change. Let’s start practicing our rough drafting.

Now’s a great time! 

We’ve got NaNoWriMo, the biggest playground of rough drafting, coming up in November. Time to practice!

Here’s The Exercise 

Write the crappiest draft you can for five minutes. 

Seriously. Make it horrible. Use clichés. Stuff metaphors in by the dozen. Is that an adverb? Why use one when you could seriously, hopefully, arguably use three? Start multiple sentences with the same word.

Write quickly. Write crappy. Write short.

Want a prompt? Here you go: It was a dark and stormy night….

What? You expected something good? No way!

Give it a try. 

Write the crappiest words you can for five minutes. Really try to make them bad. Work your hardest to write the worst thing imaginable.

When You’re Done, Rejoice! 

You did it! Woohoo!

How did it feel to just let loose and write whatever came into your mind? 

To know that when Judgmental Judy told you your writing was horrible, you could just say “Well spotted, Jude! That’s what I was going for!”

By rejoicing at the end of each crappy rough draft, you reinforce the pleasant aspects of this part of the process. And each time you do that, you teach yourself that writing that rough draft can be fun. 

By training your brain that rough drafting is more play than work, you reduce your resistance to starting and undermine any tendency toward procrastination.

Remember, this is a practice, not a magical spell that eliminates your inner perfectionist. 

It’s normal to find Judy yammering on about word choice. This practice helps you to push her to the back of your brain and keep writing.

And that’s the point. 

Rough drafting is an unavoidable part of our passion, and the only one where we can allow ourselves the unvarnished, unvanquished ridiculousness of our minds. Why not have some fun with it?

Write it crappy now, so you can return to edit and make it beautiful.

Crappy on, my friends!

*This post is informed by and uses Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching Tools™.



LA BourgeoisLA (as in tra-la-la) Bourgeois supports writers, makers, and other creatives in growing their creative businesses and breaking away from their day jobs.

As a creativity & business coach, she believes that exploring your creativity invites joy into your life, embracing your creativity infuses your life with joy, and manifesting your creativity gives you a joyous purpose. Writing and knitting are her non-negotiable mediums, and she can usually be found with a pen or knitting needles in her hands.

Find her free guide, Tricking Yourself into a Creative Habit online at and start writing those words today. She can’t wait to read them!

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