Can you create something perfect? Something everyone loves and cares about?
In this episode, I’m sharing the holy grail of creating awesome stuff by just getting started
and pushing yourself to finish something.
Listen to the episode below:
This is it folks. This is how you take your passion to major, major heights.
Or some such.
This right here is the Holy Grail of creativity. I am going to share with you the one trick, the one shortcut, the one technique you can use right now to create something perfect.
Are you ready?
Here it is:
Just Create Version 1.
Yes, just create version 1. It doesn’t matter whether you are a singer or a poet or a painter or a tattoo artist or a writer or a programmer. It doesn’t matter what your passion is. The only thing — that one thing — that matters is that you create Version 1.
I’m not saying “just start”. I of course want you to start, but I want you to start with a simple goal: create version 1. This is the most basic, most barebones, most raw, most bells-and-whistle-free version of whatever you’re creating.
It could be a song, it could be a story or a book or an article, it could be a piece of software, it could be a sculpture, it could be a sketch or a painting.
Start with the clear intention that you’ll create version 1.
And there’s a reason I use Version 1, and not version 0.5 or 0.2.
Version 0-point-1 through 0-point-whatever is a great journey, and definitely one you are bound to take. But version 1 is what gives that journey meaning and worth. The journey is fun, but the reward at the end of the tunnel is Version 1, which must be what you have in mind when you create something.
And no, Version 1 is not the perfect version of your art. It’s not the perfect version at all actually. It’s the version of your creation that you think would feel complete, to you.
I’m a singer/songwriter, so when I have the basic guitar cords, the drum track and my lyrics done, that’s my version 1. It doesn’t have to be recorded — I know I could now record it anytime, perfect the guitar more, maybe make the drums more loud or soft. But it feels complete.
If I’m writing an article, I get the gist of the idea in there, and go back to edit later if need be. That way, I have something to work with.
Version 1 is when you have something to work with, something you can build upon.
And this is important for a couple of reasons.
First, Version 1 makes sure that you “ship” something.
It doesn’t have to be ready for prime time, but having a goal makes sure you have something to work towards instead of just saying you want to create something that is “perfect”.
Working on my songs before, I tried to get it perfect so it sounded “professional” enough. This became a routine where I was almost constantly dissatisfied with what I was creating, because it never sounded studio quality.
Then, I would try to add more instruments, remove some other instruments, add some more effects but never quite get there. Knowing that I only want the drums and guitar and a basic structure to the song for my Version 1, made me focus on 3–4 specific things only and made it easier to push something out.
Second, it gets rid of excuses super fast.
When you have something you are working towards, it’s easier to focus on getting there instead of caring about what’s going on around you. So even in a less than ideal situation, you’ll spend time creating something rather than nothing at all.
Not having to create something perfect, and instead having just a “decent” version 1 in mind meant that there was no pressure on me. As long as a song sounds like a song, I’m done!
I’ve started applying this more to my writing as well, because now I’m able to write something first without having to edit it to perfection as I write.
A first draft looks more “done” than a blank page and that helps build momentum.
Finally, and the most important thing, Version 1 teaches you is what works for you. Even if something is a passion of yours, you’ll spend a lot of time thinking about the perfect time, the perfect place, the perfect setting, the perfect mood, the perfect weather(!) to work on it.
This means you never get around to doing it. Having Version 1 as the goal means that you’re now creating instead of waiting. Inspiration hits, or it doesn’t, but you create nonetheless.
I noticed that I used to get flustered if I wrote the piano or guitar parts first. I just kept thinking this isn’t good enough, and left the song altogether, hoping for a perfect time or place to do it.
When I made Version 1 important, I figured out that if I instead set down the drum loops first, it’s easier for me to add other instruments to it. If I can’t work my way into the song from the guitar, but can do it with the drums, I’ll take that anyday.
This is what I’ve started doing now for all of my songs, and so far it’s going really really well. Using this simple technique, I’ve finished more songs in 3 weeks than I’ve done in 3 years!
So, what’s your Version 1?
What would help you get the feeling that you’re getting somewhere, that it’s close to complete? How can you create this feeling of delivering something or shipping something, without having to worry about it being perfect or professional?
That’s your Version 1.
It could be the first draft of an article. Or the first rough draft of the first chapter of your book. Or the barebones backing track for a song. Or one small, single module of your huge software project. All of those — whether as part of a bigger “thing” or on their own — are your Version 1s.
Get started on your Version 1.
It’s an amazing feeling when you have something to show for your ideas. And I am not saying “something to show for your efforts” on purpose. Efforts may or may not lead to anything, but when ideas become tangible, even if in very small ways, they become utterly powerful and generate tons of momentum that you can take advantage of.
Create your Version 1, discover what works for you and hey, do let me know what you feel and find out too!
I’d love to hear your thoughts, insights and questions! Please leave a comment…