A great article from a design blog talks about the importance of the first draft. It shares a parable from Art and Fear on art-making and creative ventures. A pottery teacher splits a class into two groups: one group is measured on the quantity of work they produce over the semester and the other is measured only on the quality of the best piece at the end of the class. Which group produces the best art?
Believe it or not the group measured on quantity! The group which received an A purely by producing 50 pounds of pottery spent the whole semester practicing pottery whereas the other group sat around thinking and planning their masterpiece. But mastery comes not from one great idea but from doing and re-doing.
Chanpory shares with us his two takeaways from this fable:
1. Don’t drown in the details. It’s easy to get lost in perfecting one sentence or finding the perfect word for one idea. But in doing so we lose the forest through the trees.
2. Quality goes up with each rewrite (paraphrased). In other words we need the shitty first draft to get it down and the subsequent drafts to clean it up. The more we re-do the better the product becomes.