I’ve never had any formal training in creative writing, so occasionally I discover tips or good practices that might seem rather basic to other writers but that are revelations to me. I’m still struggling with my lifelong habit of refusing to do something unless I can do it perfectly the first time, and this is particularly endemic in my writing. I suspect that if I had more exercise in simply churning out volumes of words in a short amount of time, I might find down drafts easier.
The most common obstacle for me lately has been getting hung up on the right word, usually a verb or an adjective. Because English is blessed/cursed with a wealth of synonyms, my initial thoughts often come close to what I mean but not quite close enough. I would sit there spinning my wheels, trying to find the perfect word, eventually calling up a thesaurus and sinking more time and momentum into the hunt.
Once I (finally!) accepted that everything I wrote would require multiple drafts, however, it wasn’t long before I realized I could write the wrong words and keep going. I would just say to myself, “I’ll fix this later,” and continue with the passage. It was nothing less than a liberation. Sometimes during revision, I would come across the wrong word and think, “I remember you. Now we finish this.” Other times, the perfect replacement is obvious and I almost wonder why I didn’t see it before. And sometimes, more often than I expect, the wrong word works just fine after all.
I suppose this is just another expression of the truism that nothing is written well without first being written poorly.