Rushing to judgement

When I finish working with a coaching student, or teaching a class, I'm quite often asked, what is the one piece of advice I wish writers would remember? 'Don't give up' springs to mind, but much more important, to my mind, is 'don't rush to judgement'. It's the judging, more often than not, that causes the giving up. If only people would finish a piece of work before they start revising it, the world would be a happier place.

Half the writers I coach have got into the habit of revising each page as they finish it - which moves activity from one side of the brain to the other, so creativity is switched off in favour of analysis. When they try to write creatively again, their mind is confused, and by the time they revert to creative thinking, they've produced nearly a page of cold analytic prose, which they then stop to edit ... it's no wonder that many writers give up on their work half-way through.

If I could, I would make all writers finish a piece and put it away for six weeks before even thinking about revision. It would stop the preciousness of falling in love with one's own work, because one wouldn't be so familiar with it, and it would also prevent the development of this terrible habit of self-critique in the heat of the creative moment.

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