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 Bewitched 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?

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. 🙂

    1. It does work great, but I have to remind myself nearly every time that “shitty” is OK. 🙂

  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.

    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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