One of the most helpful suggestions I’ve ever gotten about writing comes from the book Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande. I find that it applies not just to writing, but to any creative pursuit. And I define “creative” very broadly. 

Brande argues that we each have an artist and a critic within us. The artist is spontaneous, sensitive and creative; the critic is workman-like, rational, and yes, critical. Brande believes that we need to cultivate both sides while keeping them separate.

Here’s how I put this advice into practice: I’ll often plow through creating the first draft of a speech or an important email (or a Mind Mint) with a commitment to not judging the quality of what I’m writing. Once the first draft is complete, I invite the critic in to do his work.

What happens if the artist and the critic try to work at the same time? The critic stifles the artist and nothing gets done. Fortunately, both sides agree that a bad first draft beats a blank page any day.