Shipping, Unshipping and the Creative Handbrake

It’s now happened more times than I care to remember.

That feeling.

The shame. Frustration. Even self-loathing.

The impotence of not shipping it.

Not publishing, saving as draft, ignoring, deleting.

Holding it back, adding something else, flip-flopping.

The voice of the inner critic who’s seen all those other majestic experts effortless put their fluid, pithy or sophisticated work into the world.

The creative handbrake.

That feeling doesn’t come when that idea that came together in fits and spurts doesn’t make it off the drawing board.

Instead that feeling comes when that idea (or a culmination or remix of it), floats towards you in the ether, or slaps you right in the face.

It comes when you realise that if you shipped you’d be several moves further ahead by now: that you would have connected the dots way sooner. The wave was there to surf.

The idea itself may not have move you ahead on its own, but the variety of tiny collisions and connections it created would have.

That feeling is hard to shake. But shake it we must.

I have 40+ half started, half finished, half baked, half of half blog posts on my desktop.

Some are 20 words long, some are over 500.

I have fragments of code in Github repos, small vessels made of damp, old wood that could maybe survive the waves – but maybe not. We’ll never know, they remain floating silently around a dark corner of the dock.

It’s a hard belief to hold, but success favors those who ship.

Even if the idea, theme or concept is not fully formed, or the post properly polished –  it’s generally better to ship it.

Why?

The idea will be out there – you can refer back to it, adjust it, reference it, make something new out of it. You’ve put a stake in the ground – both publicly and in your mind.

Or instead, think of it like a dot. One dot on its own isn’t much to talk about, but the combination of collecting and connecting dots is where magic happens.

Sometimes the magic will be in three dots and five minutes, other times it’s three hundred dots and five years. It doesn’t matter which: the mindset does.

And like the power of unlearning to be able to learn again, perhaps we need to learn to unship in order be able to ship again.

To unship is to untangle what we believed before about putting our work out in the world. Unshipping enables us to better understand what we truly believe is ‘ready’.

This post is a little unpolished, unrefined. But it’s ready to leave the dock and ride the waves.

By now you probably know why.

Here’s to shipping, and unshipping.

Let’s see what happens next.

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