Get it down, then get it right.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure who coined this phrase, but it’s awesome. It goes nicely with “Don’t let the Perfect become the enemy of the Good.”

Designing a new website or illustration, creating a product video for a client, or producing a song for a friend? You can’t expect the final product to spring out, fully formed, like Athena from the head of Zeus.

Staring at a blank canvas or computer screen (stylus in hand, hopefully), or preparing to improvise a solo over a jazz tune? You can’t get to the final product without doing something first. So do something.

I’m not just being glib here. This is an important tactic.

Make a stroke on the canvas. Play a note. The length and the tone don’t matter! We’re in the digital convergence, baby! If it leads you in the wrong direction, you can erase it (non-destructively) and start again! (If you happen to be preparing to improvise a jazz solo in real time, just remember the saying, “There’s no such thing as a bad note as long as you resolve it the right way.”)

Once you’ve made that first stroke, or played or sung that first note, maybe you’ll start to see a direction. Perhaps something will tickle your brain a little, and suggest another move. If not, make another stroke or play another note. There’s a good chance the two will start to look or sound like something. If not, then try some more. If that doesn’t move you, then erase ‘em (non-destructively) and start again!

The curious thing is, once you start to DO something…just making that first stroke on the (virtual) canvas or putting that first note out there…you’ll probably find that the act of doing starts to unblock whatever might have been blocking you, and gets the creative juices flowing.

On the other hand, if you’re hearing all this mental chatter (“This idea won’t be good,” “You’re no good,” “You won’t create anything cool today,” “Don’t forget to see if any bills are due today,” etc.), I promise you, you’re going to be stuck with a serious case of writer’s / composer’s / illustrator’s / filmmaker’s block!

Just doing something (I think there may be a major shoe/sporting goods manufacturer with a slogan that corresponds to this) serves to silence the mental voices that keep you from starting…and once you start, you’re much more likely to finish.

One thing is certain: You will not finish any creation if you don’t start. So start, already!

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