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Giving Yourself Permission To Be Imperfect

flickr user Håkan Dahlström

Jan Risher -

Of the many things writing has taught me, fully embracing the draft mode ranks among its top lessons.

The result is that most of the time when I’m sending someone something I’ve worked on for review or edit, I clearly label the piece First Draft. I own the document, but that First Draft indication signifies, “This piece is a work in progress.”

The next version will probably get the Second Draft label, and so on.

That draft delineation offers leeway for both the receiver and me. The receiver recognizes that this is a version its creator is not married to — there is room to change it and make it in to something better or something else entirely. I have an escape clause that allows me the latitude to come up with better ideas and continue to improve the piece.

In the big picture of life, whether the project is writing or something else entirely, sometimes we need permission for what we’re working on not to be perfect. The draft system I’ve come to embrace allows that.

The flip side, though, is that granting myself the permission not to be perfect should not lower the standard or quality of my work. Eventually, somebody has to make the last-round call and get the corrections in place. Otherwise, the project is never done — and all that work is for naught.

The bottom line is that, in the work I do, I had to figure out what gave me courage to expose myself through my work. In my case, it’s clearly identifying that my efforts are works in progress.

What’s yours?

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