Design Story
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Design Story

Your imaginary editor.

Write raw text, then edit.

Great writers thrive as superb re-writers. In order to re-write, however, you have to create a first draft. Perfectionists and brilliant (yet fearful) artists can sometimes balk at the task of a first draft; first efforts can seem so shabby, but you must persist! Write a draft then fix it later. Create something (anything) and then iterate to improve.

I drew a pic (above) of an imaginary editor, who has superior grammar, intelligence and style than I possess—obviously fictitious—and she can fix whatever mess I write. I pretend she exists. I write, then I fix my own mess.

You can too.

The best books contain a singular similarity; every author started, wrote, re-wrote and finished. So just start. And if you need an imaginary editor, then borrow mine.

And then…

After you get through the first few passes and feel assured that your ideas snap, find an actual person or two to read your work. Sometimes just the knowledge that someone else has your text in hand will transform your ability to see the work from someone else’s point of view.

Three years into music composition studies in school, I had a music professor explain:

Your piece isn’t finished until you’ve experienced it performed in front of someone else.

He was right. Witness other people as they experience your work and watch your work reveal itself to you in a totally different light. Start off with an imaginary editor, but eventually, to get anywhere, you need to hold your work up to a human mirror.

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James Buckhouse

James Buckhouse

Design Partner at Sequoia, Founder of Sequoia Design Lab. Past: Twitter, Dreamworks. Guest lecturer at Stanford’s GSB &

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