"The first draft of anything is shit" - Ernest Hemingway
I love that quote. I didn't first hear it until 2015, right around the time when I packed up Full Autonomy and started working on the outline for my new book.
Write it down on a Post-It and hang it off your computer. Tattoo it on your arm. Engrave it on a pewter mug. I don't care what you have to do in order to internalize it, but do it. It will save you a lot of grief in the long run.
I had no idea what I was doing when I was working on Full Autonomy. I knew that I was working on a book. I knew that it needed to be about 100,000 words. That was really about it. I had zero reference point. My sister's written about a dozen film scripts over the years, but I didn't bother to ask her for any of her hard earned wisdom. Movie scripts are movie scripts, and novels are novel. That was my logic.
I still shake my head when I think about what I did. I would rough out a chapter by hand. At some later point, I'll show you what it looks like when I do that. From there, I would type out what I had into something that looked like prose. That's actually not a bad place to start. But what I did from there was my deadly mistake.
Instead of outlining the entire book, and then writing a draft, and then editing it, I dove in an edited as I was writing the draft. Yes, I was working from both ends. Why did I do that?
I think that I was trying to produce a first draft that the world would love. What did I get? Lots of wasted effort. Hours and hours of polishing something that wasn't even done.
So let's go back to our pal Ernest for a moment. By telling me that my first draft was shit, he gave me permission to produce that. A big pile of shit. I don't care what you're creating. It could be a book, or a film, or even a business. Allow yourself to complete something before you go back and start tearing it apart. Finish something horrendous. Then, and only then, go back an refine it into something that you want the world to see.