Zero.Suck – Where do you start when you don’t know where to start?

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Are you struggling to get started on a writing project? Do you feel overwhelmed by the blank page and unsure of where to begin? If so, you’re not alone. Many writers struggle with writer’s block and the fear of producing a “sucky” first draft.

But here’s the thing: the first draft is meant to be rough. It’s not supposed to be perfect. In fact, it’s often referred to as a “zero draft” or “zero.suck” – a term coined by writing coach and author, Anne Lamott. The idea is to just get something down on paper, no matter how rough or imperfect it may be.

The ultimate goal of the zero draft is to get your ideas out of your head and onto the page. It’s an opportunity to brainstorm and explore your thoughts without worrying about grammar, structure, or even making sense. This can be especially helpful if you’re feeling stuck or uncertain about where to begin. 

So how do you get started with a zero draft? Here are some tips:

  1. Set a timer for a specific amount of time (e.g. 15 minutes #timeboxing) and just write/create nonstop. Don’t worry about editing or perfection – just let the words flow. 
  2. Use prompts or a writing prompt generator to help spark ideas. This is the most viable use of AI-generated text at the moment – what AI gets wrong is a great prompt for editing, itterating, and making it our own. AI also acts as a great thoguht partner when no humans available. #AI Human Interface FTW!
  3. Start with a mind map or brainstorming session to jot down all of your ideas. If you’re working as a team, try affinity mapping with time constraints. Also, if you’re participants need a bit of psychologocial safety to get started, do a short round of “wrong answers only” in your exercise. 
  4. Use a writing app or software that has a “distraction-free” mode to help you focus. Again, Miro is great, but there are many tools and options. 
  5. Get a writing buddy or create a writing room group of diverse minds to share your zero drafts and get feedback. I like to reward the zero.suck-ness in these sessinos and award a Suckiest-of-Suck award to the person who embraced the process the most. It’s quite the honor in creative groups.

Remember, the zero draft is just a starting point. It’s meant to be rough and messy, and that’s okay. The important thing is to get something down on paper, and then you can go back and refine it later. So don’t let the fear of producing a “sucky” first draft hold you back – embrace the zero draft and see where it takes you!

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