How and Why to Start Shitty
You know the feeling you get when you have an awesome idea. Something exciting and new, that fills you with excitement and you can't wait to begin. Writing idea, art, starting Zoomba, rearranging the lounge room, etc.
Then you start to bring it to life.
And it's fine for a bit.
But then it sucks.
All of a sudden your idea is a piece of crap, something you'd be embarrassed to show anybody. Something that makes you question your ability to do anything. All your self-doubt rises up and your inner critic starts to say super mean shit. That you should stop because it sucks. That you suck, everything you do sucks and why do you even bother because everything you ever will do will suck. You might push on for a little while or you might throw in the towel straight away. But continuing feels almost impossible.
I want to tell you a secret. It's supposed to suck. First drafts suck and first attempts suck. Beginning anything sucks.
We've become obsessed with immediate perfection thanks to social media and "highlight reels". But we have to stay aware it's the end result shared, not the progress pics. The best we get is before and after pictures which make it seem like the change was instantaneous.
Every single person that has created anything has struggled at some point in the creation process. And I'm not only talking writing or art. I wrote an email about this topic a few months back and I talked about setting up a snack shelf for my son and the overwhelmed I felt at all the amazing photos on Pinterest. A snack shelf! This honestly applies anything and everything in our lives.
We want it perfect first go. And not just perfect but permanent. We want the final result the first time we try but that is entirely impossible.
I'll stay with the snack shelf example because it highlights the ridiculousness of this well. I had an idea in mind and I wanted to create first go. I wanted to make it exactly how I envisioned it and then it would be done for good.
Two obvious things here. One, my son is going to grow and his needs will change (duh). And two, I was missing out on him having a snack shelf in the meantime because I couldn't immediately create this idea of what I wanted. Once I realised this I whacked some plates and a cup on the weird side bit in our kitchen and put some snacks above it. Done. Pinterest worthy? Probly not. Functional and better than having to get him food every fifteen minutes. Hell. Yes.
I've rebranded around four times, each time getting closer to the original idea in my head. (This is also my third blog, each one getting closer to being what I wanted it.) If I could look back at what this website was when I started it there would be so much cringing. Seriously, a never-ending amount. And I knew this as I was creating it. I knew it wasn't right but I had to learn through the crappy bits and find what I actually wanted.
Everything I write I hate first go. Every. Single. Post. I never manage to say what I want to say and everything is... just really bad writing. I've learnt by now to keep writing and eventually I manage to say what I want to say (for the most part, words are HARD)
The point I'm trying to make is you're going to suck when you start something. And it's ok. More than ok, its expected, necessary, an unskipable step.
The start is the stage where reality is manipulated and thoughts are made real. It's messy. And hard. And it will probably be shitty. Shitty means you're doing the work. It's a milestone to be excitedly checked off. But if you quit at shitty you stay there.
We all start shitty. Because then we have something to improve. We can't polish nothing.
We can't improve if we never did anything to start with. If I don't write a crappy draft then I can't make it better.
For a long time, I was obsessed with the idea everything was better uncreated. Any attempt to bring something into being ruined it to a certain extent. That the limitations of language prevented anything from being properly expressed. Sometimes I think this still true. Maybe not things are better left uncreated but that nothing ever quite captures what I want it to.
But that's ok. I'm learning it's ok to not be perfect, to not quite say what I mean. What I do manage to say is enough.
Starting is scary. Whatever it is, it's a very visible representation of us. And we want to be seen as perfect. No matter how much we might say people are imperfect and real, in our heart of hearts, we are afraid of being judged. Because being judged is scary.
Next time you're beginning something, when you are just past the initial rush of inspiration and your inner critic starts to mock you for how shitty it is, you can just say "I know, this is the shitty stage, fuck off"
What an idea you have you've been wanting to bring into reality. What first shitty step can you take? Let me know in the comments.
We're all in this together.