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Hi. All my current writing is over at Audacious Fox, and I'd love to show you around. Thanks for reading.

Snapchat and Sharing First Drafts

Recently, Chris Bowler asked the following question in his The Weekly Review email:

So what does Snapchat offer people other than another distraction from getting work done? That’s a serious question. Do you have an answer? Let me know, I’d love to better understand how and why people use it.

By “people,” Mr. Bowler is referring to other creatives, those who might work in design, art, or writing fields.

I spent the afternoon thinking about my answer to that question, and I arrived at this:

Sharing honest, rough draft work on most platforms means looking amateur next to the competition.

Snapchat runs the other way. Snapchat-the-platform encourages a “shitty first draft” mentality that creatives struggle to find elsewhere, even on services dedicated to in-progress work. [1] Unlike posts on Facebook, Twitter, Dribbble, and Instagram, Snapchat encourages rough-edged peeks into who we are and what we’re doing. Snaps are born into a context that embraces messy. [2]

Additionally, Snapchat removes any affordance to meaningfully polish your work before sharing. You do have drawing tools and a limited selection of filters, but drawing with your finger is obtuse and the filters are the most basic implementation of such a feature. Most everything about Snapchat facilities sharing the in-progress, and I think creatives are latching on to that for their work and personalities. We’re not always well-dressed, with ironed clothes, hair brushed or beards trimmed. Creative work is messy, and when you find creatives who openly acknowledge that, I think we all take a silent sigh of relief that it’s not just us.

There’s something redeemable about the idea of a place to share work where full-time perfection isn’t expected. That’s what I think Snapchat offers. Snaps aren’t your polished portfolio of creativity, and that’s OK. Arguably, it’s even needed.


[1] As a consultant for my college writing center, I saw an alarming number of students come in with the idea that the quality of their first draft was an indicator of their writing ability. No. It’s going to take 10 revisions before you’ve got something that resembles good. The faster you accept this idea, the faster words will get on the page.

[2] Another trend I’ve noticed, which deserves a separate article, is designers doing a live-stream of their work. This bears a similarity to Snapchat in that the premise of the experience is messy. Viewers get to see the mistakes, erasing, deleting. Seeing that isn’t only expected, but also the most enjoyable part of these broadcasts.

Monday, 23 May 2016