Breaking up with the first draft

Breaking up with the first draft:

I spent some time over the summer re-learning how to write better documents at work. As I look back at the lessons I learnt by observing what I actually changed in how I approached writing, the biggest one was willingly breaking up with the first draft.

Barbara Minto in “The Pyramid Principle” made a strong impression when she said the biggest writing problem most people have is learning to separate the thinking from the writing. She poked fun at how the first draft takes on an “incredible beauty” in the author’s eyes that we don’t like to disturb.

I found her observation to be spot on. We write the first draft for ourselves – to clarify our own thinking. And, if we embrace the process of rewriting, we write subsequent drafts for our intended audience.

There’s a meta learning in this too – we have a tendency to get comfortable after an initial learning period in any new skill. It takes a lot of effort to fight inertia and break out of version 1.0 into the next. And, then again to the next. To get better, we need to embrace “what got you here won’t get you there,” push for feedback and learning, and embrace reinvention.

It is how getting better works – in life as in writing.

(Via A Learning a Day)


I explained my writing process, similar to the above, to a Japanese colleague last week. “First drafts,” I told him, “don’t need to be perfect. They shouldn’t be. Your draft should be a mess and too long and full of notes. Even when getting things refined for version 1, don’t aim for perfect. Aim for good enough.”

Besides, few if any work documents stay static. Those that do either say nothing useful or no one makes use of them.

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Karage Pizza

Picked up some take out for dinner and combined it all to made it better.

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A Stunning Poster for My Neighbor Totoro | Spoon & Tamago

We gasped when we came across this poster for the classic Studio Ghibli film My Neighbor Totoro. Admittedly, it’s a bit hard for kids to grasp at first but the poster depicts a birds-eye view of the sisters, Satsuki and Mei, pushing their way through tall grass. But the markings ahead indicate that they’re actually walking through the fur of Totoro’s large belly.
— Read on

I want this!

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E.T. Is Secretly the Scariest Movie of All Time

I do not like E.T. No, check that: I loathe E.T. I hate E.T. to the core of my being. If I came home one day to find my family brutally murdered, E.T. covered in their blood, and using said blood to write “ROB BRICKEN IS AN ASSHOLE” on the wall, I would not find him more awful than I do already. Yet, somehow, countless others love E.T. His eponymous movie is regarded as one of the best family friendly films ever made, and among Steven Spielberg’s crowning achievements.
I knew E.T. was evil from a very early age.
It should go without saying that everyone is wrong, and have all been tricked by Spielberg and his malformed creation into believing E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is wholesome and heartwarming, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Chances are, you are one of these tens of millions of misguided souls. If so, read on, because I have an unassailable argument for why this so-called lovable alien should be feared and hated, beginning with this undeniable fact: E.T. looks like male genitalia.
I don’t say this to be crass. I absolutely do not like that he looks this way, but it cannot be denied. His large torso is a brownish, wrinkled sack atop two small feet. His head is bulbous, and upsettingly lies atop a long neck which E.T. extends whenever he is excited. It is a bleak truth, but a truth all the same. The proof is now that you’ve been made aware of it, you will never be able to unsee it, no matter how many times you watch the film.
— Read on

This echoes my feelings almost exactly.

I remember going to see this in the theater on first release. I remember my parents taking us but can’t remember if they stayed to watch or just dropped me and my sister off. I would have been in third grade, my sister in first. This was the early Eighties, so it seems alien and scary — like ET itself — that we would be “free range”.

Anyway, I hated the movie on first watching. In those days it would not be uncommon for me to see a single movie in the theater multiple times – I think I saw Goonies and War Games five times. E.T. Is terrible, and I have not seen it again.

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How Surveillance Inhibits Freedom of Expression

How Surveillance Inhibits Freedom of Expression:

Privacy encourages social progress by giving the few room to experiment free from the watchful eye of the many. Even if you are not personally chilled by ubiquitous surveillance, the society you live in is, and the personal costs are unequivocal.

(Via Schneier on Security)

Take a few minutes and give the whole piece a good read.

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