Doing Things Badly is the First Step Towards Doing Them Well

Whenever an idea for a project first starts to germinate, it’s inevitable that it contains a lot of holes and flaws. If I were really smart I’d accept that fact, write the idea down and begin to slowly work on those holes and polish the idea up until it was really great. But in my pride I object to the fact that it’s not perfect straight away, and the fear of failure often makes me give up prematurely. As consumers we tend to only ever see the finished product – be that a movie or a novel or a piece of music that we’ve particular enjoyed. We tend to think of them as though they’d been spun out of the author’s mind in that completed form, directly onto paper. But such thinking is fatal to creativity. As a creator, it just makes me wallow in self-pity rather than getting on with things.

Whilst working on my Old Testament adventure game, Ebenezer, I’ve been struggling with this problem on and off. I’ve spent the last few months sketching out a very rough version of the game in Unity, but I keep being hindered by doubts that it’s not up to scratch. Well, buddy, it’s not supposed to be perfect! Having a bad version of a project together in working form is an important first step towards making it better. It doesn’t matter that it sucks – that just helps me know what areas to focus on so that the finished product doesn’t suck.

To that end, today has been an incredibly helpful day. I talked a friend through my prototype version, and it both helped me realise that it’s not half as bad as I thought it was, and also showed me that with a few simple tweaks suggested by my friend, it instantly became a whole heap better. So consider that my tip of the day: doing things badly is the first step towards doing them well.