#106: Ship Your Art

This is a call to action for all the creatives out there.

Remember the thing that you half-finished but then decided that it wasn’t good enough and moved to something else? Or all the time that you spent thinking about how great it would be to get it out there, but then it never happened?

I get it. I do this all the time. When I start working on something, I feel like it’s going to be amazing, certainly the best thing I’ve ever made. But as time goes by and my initial vision collides with reality, my enthusiasm slowly evaporates. By the time I’m done, I’m mildly interested at best. I’ve been over the thing so many times that I don’t find it interesting anymore and inevitably abandon it to move on to something else.

If you don’t have a deadline or a firm goal in mind, it’s a challenge to keep working on something when the work gets gnarly. At the same time, it’s nearly impossible to get those external deadlines at this stage. Nobody will commission you to make a piece of art for them when you’re just starting out. And so you keep toiling in obscurity, starting something, dropping it, starting over, leaving things in various stages of incompletion.

When you’re stuck in that cycle, it’s easy to get bogged down. You’re grinding but not really getting anywhere, or it seems. There’s nothing that you can point at and say, ‘Look, I made this.’

Here goes the real talk: In the age of the internet, the only thing that’s stopping you from publishing your work is you. You believe that it isn’t your best, or even good enough. Maybe you’re embarrassed and don’t want that to be associated with your name. Fine. That’s totally understandable. You don’t have to publish it under your name or on your main blog.

Here’s the challenge that I promised in the beginning. Go to Wattpad or Reddit or Medium or whatever is your favourite website where you can post your work and make an account with a fake name like Chicken McNuggets. Then go through your pile of unfinished stories, patch them up and post them. It doesn’t matter that you don’t like them. They might not be good enough to be published under your name, but they’re certainly good enough for Chicken McNuggets.

From now on, aim to publish one story every week on that profile. Whether it’s a 100-word flash piece or 21,000-word novella. Anything goes.

You may not get very many readers. That’s ok. The value isn’t in people reading your posts. Of course, that would be nice, and if you read and give feedback to other writers, someone will eventually look at your page and read your stuff. The real value lies in learning to wrap things up and put them out there. The goal is to get into the habit of shipping your art.

What I Am Reading

I haven’t been in a used books shop in ages. I went today and found a copy of Ray Bradbury’s Stories Volume 1 which I’m pleased about. Ray Bradbury was a prolific short story writer, and I’d like to read some of the less-well-known ones as well apart from the classics that are all over the internet.

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