Since I’m not a linear thinker, I’ve had a great deal of trouble deciding where and how to start writing a book. My friend Anne Meek once told me to write “toward an outline.” I wasn’t sure exactly what she meant, so she explained it this way:
“By writing ‘toward’ an outline, I mean that an outline sets forth the structure and determines the relationship of the ideas, sort of as if you were digging a flower bed and planning in your mind just how it would turn out. But once you start to write, the ideas often suggest new relationships to each other, and sometimes an entirely new idea will occur to you. So you have to be flexible and incorporate the new… just as flowers would take over the flower bed and impose their own characteristics on it.”
I’ve taken her advice over the years – but perhaps have been too flexible. Now it’s time that I stick to a plan. This website format may work for me – like a fence around the garden.
My two favorite teachers of writing are Julia Cameron and Anne Lamott. Both have interesting terms for what they call their “first drafts.” Cameron talks about “Laying Track.” Her point is that you just have to start writing. Get words on paper without worrying about where they may take you. There’s always time to come back later and clean things up – or even change directions. Lamott is a bit more irreverent and talks about her “Shitty First Drafts.”
This Growing Leaders website will probably fit somewhere between their two descriptions of first drafts. I think it will help me overcome my tendency toward perfectionism because, like Anne Meek’s “garden,” I can weed it, prune it, and replant some of it later.