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Messy First Drafts and Dead Chickens

You know what I have a lot of resistance to?

Messy first drafts.

You may be thinking…wait. You’re a writer! Don’t you have to start somewhere? If you don’t write an imperfect, messy first draft, you’ll never write anything.

Exactly. Which is why I'm just now writing my first book, after decades of feeling called to write but not knowing how and what. It's a slow process. I'm learning a lot. And I'm really excited to be at a point beyond a messy first draft where I'm actually close to a final draft and exploring publishing options!

I’m learning that this concept of a messy first draft applies to life in a similar way as it applies to writing. If I don’t start somewhere – exploring a new idea, stepping out of my comfort zone, trying something – I’ll never create anything new. I’ll stay right where it’s safe and predictable.

But ultimately, I’ve decided I want to be a writer and I want to live beyond my comfort zone, so I’m embracing messy first drafts in my writing and in my life.

You know what else I don’t like?

Dead chickens.

The last time I raised chickens, they got killed by raccoons and I spent one unfortunate morning cleaning chicken guts off of an electric fence. Never again, I declared! Raising chickens is not for me.

Fast forward a handful of years and I’m raising 100 meat chickens on my family’s farm in Delhi, NY, with lots of guidance and help from my father and brother. Last night during evening chores, I discovered the bodies of four dead chickens in the back corner of our chicken tractor. We’re not entirely sure what happened, but our best guess is that a combination of the heat, immobility issues and environmental factors. Filled with grief, blame and self-doubt, I buried them and spent the rest of the evening working with my dad to remedy some of the factors we have control over. I think the rest of the chickens will be okay. In the meantime, I’m trying to take in the lessons of this moment.

In life, when you dare to write the first draft and enter the arena (Brene Brown/Teddy Roosevelt reference) – even the chicken-raising arena - when you dare to commit to imperfect action, it will get messy. There will be some dead chickens, unfortunately, despite your best efforts to do everything right. My practice is continuing to show up to, to push my comfort zones, to try new things, to step into the fear, to embrace radical self-compassion in the process, and to shed my old patterns of perfectionism and control. This is daily work. But I’m committed to doing it, dead chickens and all. I won’t get it right all the time. But if I don’t start somewhere, I won’t get to where I want to go. Which is – published books! Creating my own income! Lovingly-raised chickens for my family and community to eat! Truth! Beauty!

Oh yeah, and I just officially launched my very own, very first business. Chelsea Frisbee, LLC. I help women create personalized, self-guided retreats at a peaceful mountain-top cabin in Vermont complete with virtual yoga, guided meditations, healthy meals and massage therapy. Need a weekend away to intentionally rejuvenate, or know someone who does? Learn more at

Here's to imperfect action! What imperfect action are you taking in your own life? I'd love to hear from you.


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