Close this search box.

Happy New Year! Go Ahead and Write that Sh**ty First Draft.

Go ahead and write that sh**ty first draft

I’m going to try to relax more in 2024.

But first, I’d like to tell you about my preaching strategy.

Many years ago, someone came up to me after I delivered a sermon and told me how difficult it must be to preach.

Was he trying to be sympathetic after a bad sermon? I dunno. 🤣

Anyway, he said it must be hard because preachers have to think about everyone listening to the sermon and the preacher needs to preach to their needs. 

So, what are their needs? What are they going through? And do I need to preach to everyone’s needs? That sounds impossible.

I remember feeling a lot of anxiety after that conversation.

There is some truth to what he was saying. During times of tragedy or joy in the community, nation, or world, it can be very good to speak about those events. But how could anyone know all the needs of the people and how on earth could anyone speak to all of those needs in 15 minutes?

What Lies Beneath?

I think underneath my anxiety came a sense of perfectionism. I got the sense that preaching is difficult because there is a process and you must do it perfectly by thinking about everyone in the room.

I try to avoid perfectionism. It stifles my creativity and sometimes I don’t do a task because I don’t think I can do it perfectly, so I don’t do it at all.

Anne Lamott is an author and one of my spiritual gurus. She has helped me a lot in dealing with perfectionism. She wrote a book titled, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. It’s basically a how-to manual about writing books. Please excuse the French here, but one of the major points she makes is to write a “sh**ty first draft.”


That was so helpful in easing my anxiety about writing and preaching. I always try to remember that phrase because it helps me to relax. Of course, I will try my best. Depending on life circumstances, sometimes “my best” means spending a lot of time researching, praying, and thinking. But at other times “my best” means spending less time preparing than I’d like. 

Take A Deep Breath and Trust

That’s life. And so I’ve found it helpful to take a deep breath and trust that whatever I’m working on, it’s going to be better than I thought. Otherwise, my anxiety can start running the show, and that’s not good for anyone.

Also, I’ve discovered that my “sh**ty first draft” is never as bad as I think it will be. Sometimes it’s actually really good and I just need to make minor edits. But when it’s pretty bad, that first draft is always at least a good place to start.

I know that there are perfectionists who are able to manage their perfectionism in healthy and happy ways. If that’s you, I don’t want to take it away from you.

But, as we enter 2024, if perfectionism stifles your life, I’d just like to invite you to literally or metaphorically write that “sh**ty first draft.” If you are like me, you have a goal that you’ve been trying to accomplish for years, but perfectionism gets in the way. That’s why this year one of my goals is to take a deep breath, relax, and just write that first sh**ty draft.

I hope you have a great start to 2024.

Picture of Adam Ericksen

Adam Ericksen

Get a Free copy of "Unlearn the Bible"

Subscribe to receive thought provoking updates and a free copy of “Unlearn the Bible” by Pastor Adam Ericksen in your inbox.

You might also like...

Overcoming Narcissistic Christianity

Overcoming Narcissistic Christianity

Eastern and Western Christians depict the Resurrection very differently. Pastor Adam thinks the Western approach leads to a narcissism.