Santa Rosa Web Designer Advice: Write a Sh!tty First Draft

A friend and client reminded me recently about the concept of the “shitty first draft.”

We were discussing the difficulty many people have in getting a website project started, especially the content or detailed input I need to develop their content. As a Santa Rosa web designer, I explained to him how it is not unusual for clients to drag on content. It can take many weeks, sometimes months—and in a few cases, even years— for clients to get back to me with content I can use to develop their website.

I have realized it isn’t merely because people are busy. All business owners are. It’s something more than that. I believe it has to do with putting something out there that represents us, and our need to make it good. Really good. And, for many of us, it’s got to be perfect. (I know, I am a refromed perfectionist myself…)

Perfection has its virtues, but it can also be a killer. Waiting for the perfect moment or the perfect expression often means we never get the project started. Instead we tolerate something that has endured well past its time—something that not only doesn’t serve us anymore, but something that may even be doing us harm.

Take websites, for example. If your website is woefully out of date, or desperately needs repair or re-development, you are hurting your chances of attracting new customers by continuing to have a substandard website (or no website) represent you.

My Advice: Get Something–Anything–Down on Paper. Refine it Later.

Ernest Hemingway is reported to have said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” What he and others who have made similar statements meant (and I now include myself in league with them…) is to get started with something—anything—rather than sit around waiting for perfection to occur.

Getting your shitty first draft out there has the following benefits:

  • It gets your thoughts out of the swirl in your head and onto paper (or screen). This is an under-rated cleansing experience, regardless of the quality of that first draft.
  • Your first draft is the stepping stone to your next, improved draft. Now you have something to focus on.
  • You can share it with others, which opens the door for feedback and collaboration, two of the most important tools of developing anything in the world.
  • It opens the door to new ideas, new dimensions of thought that cannot occur when you are constipated with thought stuck in your expression pipeline.