In my mid-twenties, I stopped writing for several years. Although it was something that I enjoyed doing, I started to feel that my essays needed to be perfect.
Of course, nothing I wrote would ever make the cut, and hence I’ve got thousands of journal entries for years on end, but nothing that I have deemed worthy of sharing with the world.
As I entered my 30s, I changed my approach.
I decided that I need to think more carefully about what I care about in life, and writing and thinking are very much high on my list of priorities, especially essays.
I have always enjoyed writing essays, and I know from speaking with many people that others enjoy reading them.
So this is something that I actually want to do with my time. Instead of aiming to be perfect (or better than others), I just focus on writing without any element of perfect or end goal.
I think of my essays as my notes on everything, written daily. This takes the idea of having to be perfect out of the equation. After all, notes are just notes.
Perhaps this is a counterintuitive approach, because perhaps only publishing something you’re proud of should be the goal, but I am no longer sure about this. I have so many things going on in my life with running two companies and just generally trying to live that this seems the right approach for me. I think that my 30s will be the decade where I draft many ideas that I will then develop into a more concrete form in my 40s, I still have not lived or experienced enough in my life to be able to write something of real meaning, and so this is just my practice round.
I also feel that the issue nowadays is that a lot of what we see and experience online is so filtered and perfect, as we do not see the behind-the-scenes work that goes into creating all the images and words we interact with. I start to think that this is how first drafts are supposed to be, while it is completely the opposite.
Hemingway famously said that “the first draft of anything is shit”, and he was right. If we look at Beethoven’s manuscripts, they are full of crossing-outs, reworking, and so on. In the digital age, this is all missing because we do not have access to that part of the creative process, which will be a shame for future generations.
In some ways, this collection of essays that I have written is one giant draft for some book or series of books that I want to write in the future, and it’s my way to make a little progress without too much pressure.