Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Great Writing Means Nothing If You Don't "Ship" It

I finished up Seth Godin’s Linchpin on a week ago on Friday and a couple of the concepts within the book have been with me all week. One of which is the importance of deadlines.
I have a huge problem with deadlines.  I always have. I’m not good at setting them or keeping them.  But Seth has an interesting perspective on them.  Bottom line: You can have great ideas and great products but they mean nothing if they don’t “ship.”  You have to have a deadline or a drop dead ship date in order to force yourself to get the item out the door. It is tempting to hang onto an project wanting to tweak it a bit more, make one more revision or find that perfect window when the stars align perfectly and the time is right for you to release your book.

Do you want to write a novel?  Set a deadline for completion. Feel crazy?  Tell people about that deadline. Tell a LOT of people about it. And then… remind them about it. OFTEN. 

So what have you been avoiding shipping? A novel to an agent? Submitting a short story or article to a magazine? Just getting a regular writing practice started?  Showing your work to a local writing group? Set a date. Make it a reasonable one, but make the date. Write it down somewhere where you can see it every day. Tell people about it.  And no matter what happens… you “ship” that product on that day. No matter what.  If you don’t think it is good enough, don’t worry about it.  You can always make a few revisions later. Even big publishers have made corrections before printing another edition of a book. Remember no one and nothing is perfect. Perfection is a tool of control for your Inner Critic.

I’ve had several projects in my queue for years.  I have them in various states of completion, but I never seem to push through that wall to get the product to the shipment date.
JumpStart Jar - Fantasy Sci-Fi Edition Label

Case in point:  My Fantasy Sci-Fi JumpStart Jar.  I have the supplies.  The label has been designed, finalized and printed.  The content for the jar was 90% completed when I lost my source files stored on my flash drive.  And guess what?  I never backed up the files.  This totally deflated any enthusiasm I had for the project. Essentially, I had to start over from scratch.  This happened almost 2 years ago, and I’ve worked my way back up having it about 60% complete right now. Very slowly.  I work on it for a couple of days here and there, but have not made a continuous effort to get it done. Sometimes these efforts are months apart.  With that amount of time passing you lose focus. You forget where you left off.  You forget how far along you are in the project, and it takes a lot more energy to get focused and push it forward. 

So here is my bold statement:  The Fantasy Sci-Fi JumpStart Jar will ship on June 30th.  Order it now. It will be completed and good to go on that very day. No matter what.

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