The biggest barrier to getting great work done is trying to do great work.
Prolific writer and blogger Seth Godin shares that for every blog post he publishes he writes at least three, and this man publishes one post a day.
The lesson is that producers of great work don’t have a higher ratio of quality output, they just have higher output period. If one out of every ten things you produce has the potential for being great, then if you want to produce more than one great thing in a month, you better produce at least 18 shitty things in that same time.
Building a capacity for excellent output is about building a tolerance for shitty first drafts.
The sooner you get the crap out there, the sooner you can open it up for criticism, market testing, peer review, and even just your own input on a completed work. The name of the game is iteration. The goal is to make your scrap heap at least 10 times taller than your perfection pile.
Frequency always precedes true excellence. Stop thinking about producing your perfect work and just start producing.
Set an intention to be crappy scrappy.
Don’t put in your mind that you’re going to produce a work of art that will receive only acclaim—this is impossible. Instead set out to complete at least one piece of garbage. Then when you get critical feedback you won’t be so shocked, and you’ll really start learning.
When you stop waiting to savour your masterpiece you might start savouring the process. Then the process will take over and your drafts pile will start to outpace your hesitance.
You’ll start to become someone who gets the job done. A closer. That’s how you’ll learn to produce work with a fine “finish” by practicing the art of finishing.
The scary thing is not that you’ll produce marginal work that everyone will ignore, it’s that you’ll produce something challenging that people will pay attention to.
Get out there. As the marine’s say “embrace the suck”.
Now is the time to savour the mediocrity that comes before excellence. The playground of having a small audience.
That creation you’ve been polishing? It’s done. Mark it complete. Get it out the door. Ship it!
That giant project you’ve been labouring over? Chop it in half, or in tenths, then finish the first piece and ship it!
Follow these steps:
- Get shitty done early. Start shipping your first drafts.
- Share it with your audience. Put it out into your world.
- Absolutely ignore the feedback of the masses. The goal is to create, finish, and learn—not acclaim or pandering.
- Share your work with trusted peers or mentors who know who you want to serve and will give you quality feedback.
- Take their feedback and incorporate it into your next work.
- Rinse. Repeat.
The world needs your brilliance. Time to start building it.