Ship it!

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Photo courtesy of Creative Commons license

I’m applying the expression “Ship it!” to publishing.

It’s been used in the manufacturing world for decades, when a product came off of the factory assembly line, got packaged, and was shipped to the customer.

The tech world has borrowed the term for the last decade (see How Google Works). I first heard it applied to publishing while writing as a contributing editor for Logos Bible Software during my summer sabbatical from my church.

I find there are two extreme tendencies when it comes to writers.

Some writers refuse to do the hard work of rewriting, and they never get published because first drafts are notoriously sloppy.

Other writers refuse to STOP rewriting, and they never get published because they’re overly concerned with perfection. In short, they fail to ship their product.

I’m a pastor. Every Sunday I’m expected to preach a sermon. About 400 adults show up hoping I’ll have something worthwhile to say (the joke’s on them). So I work hard on preparing my 32-minute message. There’s always room for improvement. If given more time, I could rewrite and tweak one message for weeks.

But get this (are you sitting down?): Sunday happens to come every week! It’s been said that you never finish writing a sermon, but at some point you must abandon it. That point is usually around 8:00 am Sunday morning for me. And then, at 9:00 am, I ship it. [And again at 10:30 am.]

You’re never finished writing a book, but at some point you must abandon it.

If given more months or years, you could find ways to rewrite or tweak it endlessly. That’s why publishers include deadlines in those lengthy contracts. And if you don’t have a book contract or article assignment, that’s why you need to impose a deadline on yourself. Commit to a date when you will submit that article, or book proposal, or query letter. Or post that blog.

Rewrite, yes (PLEASE rewrite). But at some point you have to abandon it and ship it.

You’ll never get published if you don’t learn this lesson.

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