Are you shipping?

28 Feb

how to be a better writer by finishing what you start

The sign “Are You Shipping?” was shown in the novel “Microserfs” by Douglas Coupland, with the phrase pinned above the desks of Microsoft employees. It means are you finishing your project and sending it out into the world? Because if we are not shipping we are not earning any money. So let’s ship, people!

I often think about that. Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m an easily distracted guy. (Long story and we’ll talk about it soon.) I have lots of ideas and quite often have more than I can cope with. Sometimes it’s difficult to get somewhere with one project because you get an idea for another you don’t want to lose. Or you get really busy at work. Or you are ill for a week. Or the kids are having problems with homework. Whatever, there are a ton of reasons NOT to finish.

Whatever the reasons for not finishing find a way to finish. Be organised and finish. Your incentive? Finishing makes you a better writer. If you can finish something every week, you will become a better writer almost automatically.

I didn’t say finish it and have it be a glorious work of genius. I said just finish it.

You can edit, you can revise, you can delete a whole section in the middle and write it again from scratch, it doesn’t matter. You can’t start polishing and editing till you finish it.

So, now you know that… are you shipping?


Advising people who commented and emailed me recently has prompted me to do something I’ve been meaning to do for years; set up an Internet service for giving writers advice. I call it The Noun Collective and it will be launching in March, and I guarantee you can afford it.

Obviously offering a service like this requires some form of payment, it takes effort and experience to answer questions. After a lot of thought about how not to alienate people by overcharging, I’ve decided to take a modern approach to billing; you can pay what you like! I will of course have premium services for long form script evaluation, but the main service will be this: ask a question, get an answer, pay what you like. Watch out for details here soon. Subscribers to the newsletter will be able to get beta access to the system, so why not sign up now?


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1 Comment

Posted by on February 28, 2010 in Creative Genius


One response to “Are you shipping?

  1. pratibha

    March 1, 2010 at 8:47 am

    best advice


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