An amateur photographer finds a picture he likes every ten shots or so. A skilled photographer may sift through a hundred pictures before they find a great shot. And a master photographer might go through a thousand in search of that one, near-perfect shot.

Writers follow similar patterns. Those too attached to their words can’t stand the idea of throwing anything out, and so they choose average over great. Instead of testing out a couple of sentences, they settle for playing with the one that’s already written down.

You might say that at the end of this road lies perfectionism, but I don’t think that’s true. Perfectionists mistake inaction with the search for perfection.

Learn to enjoy throwing stuff out. This sentence you’re writing might not work, but it’s still worth writing down, even if only to get it out of your head. The next one might be better. If it isn’t, that’s okay; you can always write more.

Writing more, I’ve learned, is much more efficient than waiting for something to come to you. The only thing that waiting teaches you is how to be good at waiting. It doesn’t teach you how to write better sentences, and it sure as hell doesn’t teach you how to tell better stories.

Plan, write it down, refine (or as my friend, Erynn calls it “plan, vomit, refine”). You should feel comfortable with discarding between 60-80% of what you write and rewriting the rest. Most of your favorite authors throw out even more.

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