My Magic Trick For Starting A Creative Project

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I’ve had this quote in my collection for ages, and according to my notes, it’s attributed to Sol Saks. When I tried to verify this online, I found the quote is usually given as “Unknown” or “Anonymous”. I did find someone else who attributed it to Saks, so I’m standing by it. It may be a paraphrase of something longer that Saks once said. He wrote for radio and TV, and made his fortune by writing the pilot for the classic TV show BewitchedΒ in 1964. He’s quoted on IMDB as saying that when he felt blocked, he started by writing badly. Once he got started, things would improve. Eventually, he had something worth sharing.

This is in accord with one of my favorite pieces of advice from Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird: Write a shitty first draft. Don’t worry about the fact that it sucks. Just get the words down. You can make it better later. “Write a shitty draft” is a mantra with me, one I recite every time I find myself unable to start.

As I struggle with my drawing homework and making yarn with my handspindle, I’m realizing that this really applies to all creative endeavors, maybe even to everything in my life. Better to make something that isn’t perfect than to do nothing at all.

What are your tricks for getting started on a challenging creative project?

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Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

4 thoughts on “My Magic Trick For Starting A Creative Project”

  1. I think this is great advice! Sometimes perfectionism can paralyze, so this is what I do. I get it all out without judgment or critique…then I go back later with a more fine tuning eye. πŸ™‚

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  2. I have two tricks. One is to write about what I WOULD be writing about, if I could write. The other is to go off and do something else creative. I find that after an hour or so, I’m ready to try again.

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    1. Those both sound like excellent ideas! I actually do the first a bit; I write in my project journal before I start writing for my novel, and it’s usually about what I need to write next. Thanks for sharing your tips!

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