I recently had the pleasure of listening to and watching Elizabeth Gilbert speak about her experience of writing. Something really stayed with me, the concept of the shitty first draft. She happened to be sharing the stage with Brené Brown, and of course, a hilarious conversation ensued. Which you might be able to access on the Emerging Women’s website.
The reason why it stayed with me is we often compare our first attempts at something creative to the great works of the masters. We take a brave step forward and attempt a poem and then compare that with poets we admire and aspire to be. I attempted spoken word for a while, and found that my work was quite lyrical, so of course I thought to compare my work with that of Dylan (Bob, not Thomas). How ridiculous a comparison.
What we need to realise is that the very process of creation is a series of accidents that culminate in the thing that wanted to come into creation.
When we create anything for the first time, be it a painting, a book, a strategy, a company, a family… any reality we are crafting for ourselves, the first time is going to be a bit shitty. And as Elizabeth Gilbert reflected, she’s learnt to get that shitty first draft out as quick as possible so she can start honing it and improving upon it. And here’s the catch… with the help of others.
We have this beautiful image in our minds of what our creation ought to be like and we strive to ensure that we create that exact vision. What we need to realise is that the very process of creation is a series of accidents that culminate in the thing that wanted to come into creation. And that creation is your creation. Because of that it is unique and so without comparison.
We often hold ourselves back because we don’t want the world to see our shitty first drafts. The irony is, the world isn’t comparing your shitty first draft to the beautiful vision you hold in your head, only you do that.