I am reading Seth Godin’s Linchpin right now. You know how sometimes you might have vague thoughts connecting, criss-crossing and perhaps misfiring. Sometimes you spend some time refining these thoughts, mostly they randomly appear and disappear. Anyway, sometimes you watch a movie or read a book – more often read a book – and find someone has explained something you’ve thought about and done it so eloquently – something you’ve thought but could not articulate. It’s nice to see it – a validation of your own view.
The discipline of shipping
Well, I have grappled in the past with the contradiction of persisting in work and delivering. By this I mean that sometimes, you want to perfect that essay or article and that takes time, multiple rewrites and edits and sometimes, even then you have to start from scratch again. And then the deadline looms and you think – run with it or not? If it’s good enough, you run with it, even if you’re not too happy. Mostly, it depends on your state of mind at that point, doesn’t it? Anything can happen when you’re having a good day. And it makes you wonder – should you thrash it out and keep working until it’s perfected? And by perfected, I simply mean to the standard you’re happy with, as there is no objective standard of perfection really. At least not with creative work.
And then I read this yesterday in Seth’s book – Chapter Resistance and I quote :-
“Sometimes, shipping feels like a compromise. You set out to make a huge difference, to create art that matters and to do your best work. Then a deadline arrives and you have to cut it short. Is shipping that important?
I think it is. I think the discipline of shipping is essential in the long-term path to becoming indispensable. While some artists manage to work for years or decades and actually ship something important, far more often we find the dreams of art shattered by the resistance. We give in to the fear and our art ends up lying in a box somewhere, unseen.
When you first adopt the discipline of shipping, your work will appear to suffer. There’s no doubt that another hour, day or week would have added some needed polish. But over time – rather quickly, actually – you’ll see that shipping becomes part of the art and shipping makes it work. Saturday Night Live goes on each week, ready or not. The show is live, and it’s on Saturday. No screwing around about shipping. There are no do-overs, no stalls, no delays….”
Seth is right. It’s better to get it imperfect but out there, than perfecting something that never gets pushed out there. It lives in the land of dreams and possibility and never makes it to the next stage. It’s easy to sit there forever, in the perennial hope of almost being. Getting it out there, failing and getting it out again and again does improve things. For you. For me. I couldn’t have said this any better.