A shitty first draft

Turning bad writing into good writing

Jan 29, 2023 · 3 min read ·

When setting out to write something, there is one hurdle that people seem to struggle with.

Starting to write.

I know exactly how this is because that used to be me. I could spend hours and hours watching YouTube, reading books and reading other blog posts, collecting stacks and stacks of notes, without actually putting the proverbial pen to paper.

The problem, apart from the fact that I wasn’t producing anything, is that no matter how much information I got I had no idea if other people would like the idea that I had.

The conclusion I've drawn is this: More information is not what is stopping you from producing your next piece of writing. Not writing is what is stopping you from writing!

You see, writing is editing. You are almost guaranteed to not get it right the first time. So when starting, the goal shouldn’t be to get it right. The goal should be to get started.

Once you have something on paper, that shitty first draft, it’s much easier to see where you took a wrong turn, which pieces fit together, and which argument isn’t quite as strong as you thought it was.

This shitty first draft is for your eyes only. This means that you also have the option of throwing it away and writing a shitty second draft. Heck, most of the time when I write a blog post I end up splitting my shitty first draft into three separate blog posts, of which one gets discarded the very next day.

I call it a shitty first draft for a reason. Words matter, and using those words tends to take all the pressure of trying to produce something good out of it for me.

Up until this point, this post has been about writing. Except it really hasn't. Writing is a useful frame, but I apply the principle in other areas of my life too.

When writing code for example. I find it much easier to think when I have some piece of code in front of me. Even if I know I will throw it away. But as soon as I have something I can start tweaking it. I'll have taken a step, and now I have more information.

Taking that first step is often all you need to be able to reach your destination.

For me, that step is a Shitty First Draft.

Heads up!

After over a decade of building apps, teams and companies, I've now started coaching founders and CTOs through something that I call Nyblom-as-a-Service.

If this is something that would be interesting to you feel free to schedule a free discovery call to see if we are a good match for each other.

© 2023 Viktor Nyblom