Write FBR

From Weekly I/O#9

When drafting, write FBR: Fast, Bad, Wrong.

Podcast: Safi Bahcall — On Thinking Big, Curing Cancer, and Transforming Industries | The Tim Ferriss Show

Safi Bahcall is the author of Loonshots. He said there are three hats in writing: hunting, drafting, and editing. In hunting, we find the narrative thread that's going to hold our stories together. In drafting, we write FBR, fast, bad, and wrong. In editing, we get rid of all the glitches and make it shine.

It is like cooking, where we write narrative thread as our recipes, then we go grocery shopping and just fill our cart as fast as we can, and in the end, we do the editing just like we're cooking.

In drafting, write fast, bad, and wrong. Write as fast as we can regardless of terrible style, terrible grammar, terrible word choice, wrong dates, wrong names, wrong facts. Writing down those bad and wrong things without stopping to search resources and correct them liberates us to follow the narrative thread and keep going with it. Once you stop, it is like a car going down the highway, it's easy to stop but then we have to spend all the fuel to get back to speed.

We will eventually realize that all first drafts are shit (in Safi Bahcall's own words). Everything, when it starts off, is shit. However, with high speed and the courage to produce shit, we will end up with a little bit more creativity. Therefore, it’s okay to have our stuff sound terrible. Just keep going. We fix it up in the editing.

For me, I don't use grammar check when drafting an article (though it is partially because Grammarly doesn't support my favorite editor for drafting). Therefore, the results of the grammar check for my first draft are always astonishingly terrifying. But by separating the editing phase from the drafting phase, I get into the flow of creation more fluently. It helps me build the body of an article faster. Again, premature optimization is the root of all evil.

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