I think about this paragraph from David Rakoff’s Half Empty quite a bit:
Creativity demands an ability to be with oneself at one’s least attractive, that sometimes it’s just easier not to do anything. Writing — I can really only speak to writing here — always, always only starts out as shit: an infant on monstrous aspect; bawling, ugly, terrible, and it stays terrible for a long, long time (sometimes forever). Unlike cooking, for example, where largely edible, if raw, ingredients are assembled, cut, heated, and otherwise manipulated into something both digestible and palatable, writing is closer to having to reverse-engineer a meal out of rotten food.”
Hence, the necessity of shitty first drafts.
This is one reason I love collage so much — it’s very easy (for me) to take scraps and junk and push these pieces around, glue them to each other, and keep layering until it pleases me. This collage, for example, was started with random pieces of tape that I’d stuck to a worktable that was in storage for 2+ years while I had the new studio built.
Here’s what it looked like when I started:
I’m constantly on a quest to make writing more hands on — more manipulative, in the sense that you’re using your hands to shape it. The more I treat writing like one of my collages, the better it gets. (One reason I love the blackouts.)