One discipline of writing that is very difficult is developing the invaluable ability to get an unfinished idea down on paper.

It is so tempting (and often automatic) to give in to yourself – your most immediate reader – and start editing as soon as an idea hits the front of your brain. To allow a pure idea all the way through to the paper without any editing is nearly impossible. But it is a rare and treasured thing. For it is not the quality of the expression or the idea that is so important to capture, it is what might come of one word or some other detail in that unfinished, raw scribble.

One reason this aspect of the discipline is difficult is that we have been trained, especially in business, to refine everything before release, and to refine as soon as possible. We are groomed to interrogate a thought or idea as soon as we have it, to strengthen and polish it, and then – only then – allow it to see the light of day. For many of us, this way of working is part of what makes us successful in corporate life. But, such auto-editing is designed to produce quality analytical output, not quality creative output.

There are many raw thoughts, raw words, that should not be trimmed back, that are truest without being refined. As we tromp around our creative orchards, it is not about well-trimmed trees and weed-free brambles. It is about spotting the nubs along each branch, recognizing them for what they are, and making space for them to take off. dm