Why you need to do a crap first draft!

The pressure to produce valuable content can sometimes hinder our ability to publish anything at all. This dilemma showed up the other day when I was drawing with my son. Let’s talk about the crappy first draft.

The Crappy First Draft

The other day I was helping my son make a birthday card for his friend. We had designed the card in Canva and printed it out, and he wanted to finish up with a funny drawing for the inside. He sat there, pen in hand, staring at the blank page. (Obviously, I suggested using a pencil, but what do I know!!) I could sense his growing anxiety. He was afraid of ruining the card with a “crap drawing” on the inside.

At that moment, I was transported back to the days when I used to attend life drawing classes. I vividly recalled my teacher’s words: “Stop trying to do a good drawing.” This has stuck with me for 20 years, and not just in drawing.

When you’re trying to make something “good” you’re not making space for getting a deeper understanding of what you’re creating. If you’re trying to make it good, you’re putting a lot of pressure on every mark you make so you’re kinda doomed from the start!

The Parallels to Content Creation

In my work with individuals striving to create compelling online content, I frequently encounter those who have brilliant ideas but struggle to bring them to life. They hover over their concepts for far too long, allowing self-doubt to twist their thoughts, inhibiting the natural flow of their content. The solution, I believe, lies in the wisdom of my art teacher: “Just do a drawing”. Admittedly she never asked us to make a crap drawing, rather, she encouraged us to be open to the ideas that might come, often unexpectedly.

By allowing ourselves to produce a less-than-perfect first attempt, we free up our creativity and we’re more likely to create something. We can’t possibly know everything before we start; it is through the act of creation and the process of discovery that we refine our vision, figure out the details and make unexpected discoveries along the way.

The First Pancake

I’ve been using this metaphor for years!!! Stop me if you’ve heard it 😀

Y’know when you’re making pancakes…. the first one is often less than ideal—it might end up in the bin or be reserved for the dog. But that first pancake serves an important purpose. It helps us determine the right temperature, adjust the batter consistency, and hone our flipping technique. Similarly, our initial content attempts act as the first pancake—a stepping stone toward improvement.

The acclaimed author Neil Gaiman offers this advice for writers:

The second draft is where the fun is. In a first draft, you get to explode. The objective (at least for me) is to get it down on paper, somehow. Battle through the laziness and the not-enough-time and the this-is-rubbish and everything else, and just get it written. Whatever it takes. The second draft is where you go and gather together the fragments of the explosion and figure out what it is you did, and make it look like that was what you always meant to do.

Neil Gaiman

This principle applies beautifully to content creation. The initial draft, sketch, or video is a springboard. It allows us to react, learn, and refine your ideas. It means that the first pancake can be a big ole’ mess where you let your creativity flow… explode even.

Embracing the “first pancake” in Content Creation

Whether you’re crafting videos, writing blogs, designing websites, or developing any content within your sales funnel, the key lies in overcoming the fear of messing it up. Embrace the idea of doing a crap first version, recognizing its role in helping you figure things out. By relinquishing the need for perfection straight out of the gate, you open doors to creativity and accidental inspiration.

I hope you found this wee tale and its underlying message useful and inspiring. Don’t be afraid to start, to make mistakes, and to learn along the way. You can’t know everything before you start.

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