Friday, September 26, 2014

Hail to the Shitty First Draft

It's freeing the first time you do something.

It doesn't have to be the first time ever.

It could be the first time for that day.

Like, the first run of the morning...the first report writing of the day at the office...the first thing you tell yourself as your feet travel from the bed to the floor....the first words out of your mouth to another.

It's freeing because there's no expectation.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  It doesn't have to be tidy.  It just has to be.

I write much like I live...scattered, chaotic, neurotic, a bit like a caged animal full of lots to share with the world but mired by the inability to find the perfect way out of my own prison walls.

And so the other day I told myself, you've got to get something down on paper.

This essay isn't going to write itself.

No one has to see it or ever read it.

Let it be awful.

In fact, will it, work hard to make it clicheish, cheese dicky, run-ony, ridiculously over the top, in short...absolutely horrible.

The gift of telling myself that the first draft would be abysmal made the writing process more alive, fluid, and fun than I could have ever imagined.

And now, I have the ultimate shitty first draft.  And, hands down, it's a beaut.  A real piece of shit.

But, it's more than I had yesterday.

And, it's a starting point...there's actual content to edit.  Hallelujah!  I get to be both an author and an editor!

I decided that the metaphor of the shitty first draft is a perfect one for the way I should be living my life.  Because the other way isn't working very well.  It's suffocating and exhausting to be worried about it always looking good.  It's stifling and really no fun at all to be consumed by getting it right.

It's exhilarating to presume that you'll most likely get it wrong but that simultaneously, the sun will come up tomorrow and you'll be better for trying.

So, I say, "Hail to the Shitty First Draft!"  Hail to running the slow and heavy mile.  Hail to letting the beds stay unmade and the dust bunnies collect.  Hail to knowing that you need to go to the store but choosing to take a walk while crunching the yellow leaves in your path.  Hail to letting yourself have the ugly cry when a disagreement with your child sent you into the depths of despair.  Hail to not mowing the lawn and being "that house" on the street.  Hail to Starbucks cups and Gatorade containers lining the bottom of your car. 

Hail to letting go of that that doesn't matter, so that you can make space for the pieces, places, and people who do.

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