When I re-started this blog after letting it lie fallow over at blogger for about 3 years, I was wanting to set up some accountability for myself so I could, as Seth Godin says, “ship.”
What does “ship” mean? Well, if I was making a thing, I’d probably need to ship said thing out on a regular enough basis to satisfy the folks who sold my thing, right? If I had a service “ship” might mean something different – like “showing up on time” “returning all calls within two hours,” some metric that proved (if only to myself) that I had actually done the service.
So too with creativity.
I’m a preparation paralysis type. I have an idea – I do tons of research (thanks, internet!) – I start . . . and then it just fizzles somewhere after starting but way before finishing. And I’m off to the next idea.
I don’t have a problem with ideas. I don’t understand the mystery and alchemy of where ideas come from, I just allow that they do come. And I really enjoy researching my ideas which is also a way of saying – I haven’t met a book, article, blog post, seminar, workshop or webinar I didn’t like. I can spend endless time on minor aspects like picking out colors and fonts before I’ve written word one. (Or finding the perfect knitting pattern and yarn, only to never quite finish the sweater. “Ship” in this case means the sweater is finished and ready to be worn, not in pieces or without buttons, even if the main part is done.)
So what happens between starting and shipping? It gets hard. It gets boring. It gets frustrating. Mostly, I get anxious. Over everything (see, I earned that diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder.) I usually envision having finished the novel when I’ve got about 500 words into it – and then I start obsessing about finding a publisher (apparently, in 2014, there are none as everybody I know is self-publishing), and then I worry about people’s opinion on the book and how I’ll handle it.
Wait, what? I’ve written like 500 words here. I don’t have a book. I barely have a chapter. I’m off in the future, or in the past, but certainly not working on chapter two.
It’s partially the curse of the INFJ/P. I always get split on the J/P part of the Meyers-Briggs typology. Perhaps were I more “J” I’d be immune to the waves of anxiety-producing nonsense. J types (the J is for judging, not judgmental) tend to prefer endings and aren’t as comfortable with the open-ended. P types – well, they can just live in the process ad nauseum (maybe P which stands for perceiving, should really stand for preparation!).
The real tripper-upper, though is those two middle letters “NF” which stands for intuitive feeler. We NF’s are definitely special snowflakes with an emphasis on flake. We are very prone to going down the rabbithole (thanks, internet!) It really contributes to preparation paralysis. So along with my temperament type, my genetic legacy of anxiety, my self-talk which doesn’t help (geez), and my relatively lazy avoidance when faced with work or frustration, I can easily give up and get laid low very quickly.
An old friend said that – and he didn’t even make it up.
Two words that say it all.
The revitalized Zental Floss blog was, essentially, my promise to myself to “ship.” To not just prepare endlessly, to not go over to Writers’ Digest and read ONE more article on blogging or writing or platforms or social media or . . . but to sit down, write, edit and hit publish. Over and over.
I decided that my three posts a week goal, although not carved in stone had to also be not just scratched in sand, either. As long as reasonableness ensues (traveling or other life stuff certainly can and will get in the way at times), this is do-able.
I haven’t been perfect the last two months by any stretch, but in just counting the times I’ve posted, it’s like 29 times over two months (since March 31 to May 30.) About five items were either short asides with one a re-blog, so about 24 times, I sat down and actually shipped.
Writers Write. And apparently, Knitters Knit, too.