Make A Bad Draft NOW

I learned this advice from Anne LaMott, in her classic book about writing, Bird by Bird. But I still don’t actually follow this advice reliably.  Until today, I wasn’t really sure how important it was, because I’m still learning the methodology of design.

But today, I do.  A parent volunteer came to me with an idea for a program at school, and rather than talk about it, and talk about it, and talk about it some more, we just did it.  I wrote up the core questions, made a flyer, and did a map of the layout of the room where we intend to hold the program.  She outlined a to-do list of the people she needed to talk to, and she communicated with them via email so that we could set up the face-to-face contacts that need to occur.  I sent out copies of the flyer to the people who needed to be in the loop, all of them marked DRAFT on them in some fashion, and…

BOOM.  We’re done.

Ok, sure. Someone is going to demand changes to the flyer.  Someone is going to want to add more questions to the list.  Someone is going to demand better wording, or a clearer description of some part of the program or another.

But the point is, this parent and I could carry out this program tomorrow if we had to, with just the resources we mustered today.  The advertising exists as a real object, instead of just a conversation about it; the questions to be asked and resolved during the event exist as a digital file and a printed copy — all other things being equal, this event is ready to roll.

I find this is where a lot of the power of design comes from, really: Make it now.  It doesn’t matter if it’s bad or good, only that it exists.  Do it, get it done, print it out, make a sketch, manifest the idea in matter. Right now.

There.  It’s done.  Everything after this point is going to be easy, because it will be a process of improvement, rather than pure creation. You’re already halfway done.

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