“Shitty First Drafts”

“Shitty First Drafts”

In art class we had a live model for the first time.  We were to do a fast sketch to acquaint ourselves with her facial features.  She was a striking young woman with distinct features. 

My initial 15 minute charcoal sketch looked like a wild animal had attacked.  I admit to being a bit embarrassed when the model walked by looking at all our sketches.  It’s one thing botching up a plaster cast and another maiming a live beautiful face.

"Shitty first draft", charcoal

“Shitty first draft”, charcoal

The remaining time in class was spent doing the model’s portrait in chalk pastels.  (Confession: The teacher helped me since I’ve never worked with pastels.)

I was not going to post either the initial sketch because it wasn’t “perfectly executed” nor my pastel since my teacher helped. 

Then Anne Lamott, the author, came to mind.  In her book Bird by Bird she talks about how the writer should just spill it all out, create the “shitty first draft”.  That’s how good writers get to the second, third and polished last drafts.

Pastels

Pastel on grey paper

When I look at the portrait I see flashes of myself – mostly the pain I’ve been in.  There wasn’t time in class to finish . . . another work in progress, like me.

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.” 

Anne Lamott