Writing Your First Draft
Erica Jong makes a valuable observation about how to recognize and overcome a significant psychological cause of writer's block.
You should write first drafts as if they will never be shown to anyone.
Think about her own writing career described in the biography. Her first novel, Fear of Flying, was a huge success. That was the beginning of her successful writer's life.
And…this highly experienced, highly successful writer, tells other writer’s to keep your first draft private. If a writer with her credentials as a best-selling author of many books makes a claim about writing, it’s worth pondering her wisdom.
She knows that no writer is going to produce an extraordinary book in the first draft. Most writers don't really know what they are writing about when they begin. They have ideas but they don’t have completely planned-out ideas.
Creation is about bringing into existence something that doesn’t now exist, and has never existed before. Writing is a creative experience. If you are a writer, you are a creator of something made up of words you choose to use, words that you choose to arrange in a way no one else has ever written them before you. The odds are very high that no one has chosen—or ever will choose—the same words arranged the same way about the same idea as you will choose when you write.
It could be a big idea with a radical vision of change, or it could be a small insight, a slightly different perspective, a different point of view shaped by the fact that each of us sees the world differently.
Unless you plagiarize by copying verbatim what someone else has written—which is not creation—whatever you write is going to be your unique creation.
Fear of Judgment
Writer’s block isn't usually about lack of ideas. At the root, the cause of writer’s block is the nagging sense that what you are writing is not going to be good enough. Maybe you think that it will be judged harshly or ridiculed as insignificant. Nothing stops creativity more than the endless criticism that what you are writing isn't good enough, or appropriate enough, or unique enough. It's even worse when you are the one who is criticizing your own writing.