5-Day Start Writing Challenge: Why We’re Pretending Your Backspace Key Doesn’t Work

Sep 16, 2020

5-Day Start Writing Challenge: Why We’re Pretending Your Backspace Key Doesn’t Work while you’re writing your first draft.

Once upon a time, one of the biggest issues that kept me from writing was my fear that my words wouldn’t be good enough once I pulled them from my head and put them down on paper. Who did I think they wouldn’t be good enough for? I have no idea.

Probably the collective consciousness that decided on things like The Literary Canon and which books were classics and which books were trash. What if I tried to write and somebody–anybody thought it was trash? I didn’t want to be a hack. I wanted to be a Real Writer and I couldn’t be a Real Writer unless I wrote glorious prose that read like angel song and stayed far, far away from genre fiction.

All of that is bullshit. A big fat steaming pile of it.

The Literary Canon was decided by people in the publishing industry and stupid self-important professors. And guess what? They’re pretty much all old white dudes would care about old white dude things. And they do what old white dudes do best, keep most women and people of color out of their spaces, but calling all other space but their’s trash.

That’s why I thought romance was a trash genre for a long time. (That a growing up in a religiously oppressive environment, but whoooooole other conversation.) Because I was told romance was nothing but trash and don’t waste my time. So I tried to write *literature* but my stories always skewed more toward romance than anything else anyway.

And then I started to read romance and it was like stumbling being initiated into a secret club I didn’t know existed, but had always been looking for. A place where it was cool to be subversive and expect satisfying sex. Two of my favorite things!

Okay, okay, okay, sweet, Marla. Glad you found your place in the world. Congrats. What the hell does this have to do with why I can’t use my backspace key?


Because your goal every day over the course to the challenge is to hit your chosen word count, and that’s never going to happen if you keep deleting words because you’re afraid they suck. And the easiest way to get over the fear of writing shitty words is to get real comfortable with it.

If you’re not deleting, you may have to write some truly nonsensical sentences to convey your meaning. And to that, I say Bravo! More words down for the day.

Your first draft is you getting your idea out of your head and onto a word processor. Making it pretty happens later.

Removing the pressure from yourself to write a masterpiece out of the gate allows you to let your creativity flow. Have fun. Get silly. Be absurd. Surrealism calling your name? Go with it. Talking animals making an appearance? Sweet. Disney does it all the time.

The only limits you have are the ones you’re putting on yourself.

I’m gonna give you a moment to go read that again.

Give yourself permission to write. Laugh at your awful sentences. Share your ridiculous typos. Write what makes you happy. Capture your power through practice and embrace the fact that sometimes that journey is littered with truly awful words.

Words that you can revise later.

(And if you’re feeling trepidation on how to revise shitty words into great words, don’t you worry, honey bar. I have you. I’m not going to push you out of the nest and expect you to fly. We’re going to work on that too. But later. You can’t revise shitty words if you don’t write a shitty first draft, mmkay?)

And if none of that helps you get comfortable with your fears about writing and start writing anyway, tell yourself that none of your words are permanent. You can change them as many times as you want once you finish your first draft. They’re your words and nobody can tell you that they’re wrong or bad or trashy. They just are. And the fact that you are writing them makes you a Real Writer. 

No homework today, just get real comfortable with pretending your backspace key doesn’t exist during the challenge.

Haven’t joined the challenge yet? Do it here.


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