Let your work roam free in the wild
Needed this “refresh” that it’s ok to continue to serialize my work in progress novel. Key words-- work in progress. I’m actually getting amazing notes from my subs as I go. Isn’t it typical of a writer tho to say, Hmmm. Am I doing the right thing? Is it good enough? Thx!🙏
I've never serialized any of my fiction, but you are definitely talking me round.
More research needed. Thanks for providing it.
I work in software too and found that I have been doing things thr agile way before the term was even trendy! I serialised my first novel way back in the 2000s and getting feedback each time was very inspiring for me to continue. I find it the best way to write my stuff, tho I am struggling with the consistent output with fiction. Even with that early novel there were weeks when I couldn't come up with the next twist so I had to keep my poor readers waiting. But finished it I did - in 2 years and my readers celebrated it with me. I miss that live feedback and hope to find it with Substack somehow.
Thanks, Simon! I admire what you’re doing and aim to do the WIP for MVP you describe in a “yes, and” fashion. I’m new here--only 2 short stories in-- and I plan to continue with the short story format, but my passion is in longform projects. I want my novels to have been beta’d before publishing them here, but the workload of publishing short stories consistently while simultaneously plotting, writing, and editing a novel turns out to be 1) too ADHD even for me and 2) too much work for the 8-10 hours per week I have for writing. When I started this, early on the Dunning Kruger experience curve, I was very accepting that my stories and images might not be the most polished things. Now it feels like underperforming, full stop.
All that leads me to: any advice on defining what’s good enough for a newbie--it doesn’t feel like my audience will grow if the quality doesn’t improve.
Thanks in advance!
What you wrote makes 'perfect sense'. I'm making progress with my first novel now because I'm focusing on the process and that makes it far more enjoyable than being outcome-focused.
I'm a software architect and the team I'm on runs in sprints, which is the one aspect that I've seen other writers absorb from agile methodology as well. A similar concept is Kanban boards, but they both have a very useful aspect, which is "doneness". Small chunks of done, not perfect, but done. That creates a positive feedback loop, instead of being discouraged by the idea of the great and mighty novel.
Excellent work, Simon! Of course, now I must leave for work and go be agile. 🙄
Simon, never thought of using agile as an approach to writing - used this alot in my previous job. Makes sense as I write my first novel ty
The timing for me to see this post and to read it now was amazing. I just started a serial novel on Substack, and I've only posted two installments so far. I'm both excited that I'm publishing as I go, but also scared to death. Simon's post was like validation for how I'm feeling- motivated, inspired, but worried about perfection. I love the idea of having eyes on my chapters along the way, and potentially engaging with readers. Hoping I'll find some along the way. Anyway, thanks Simon. I'm definitely going to check out your 22-chapter how-to guide.
Thanks for sharing this Simon. I believe everything we do need method. Even sleeping, or relaxing needs a method. Why its so hard to apply a method to writing?
I believe we are undermined bynthe talent theory, like in sports. Like if, in order to be successful we must obey to talent. But talented people are very hard to find, so common people need a method to grow up talent
Less on writing, more on other things, boy, I've learned the value of "it doesn't have to be perfect." Long ago I left a band because the songs just got worked, re-worked, pre-recorded, re-done, ad-infinitum, with nothing released and no gigs because the other guys were stuck in the "it's not perfect" loop. And things got so overbaked my personal, preferred iterations of the tracks date back to three years before I walked away. A web startup I worked for, back around 2001... Ugh, we had the whole site built, just ready to link to the database, when the boss decided he hated the entire front end, and scrapped it. A year later everything was rebuilt, ready to link to the database and go live and the CEO scrapped his plans again - and I'm the team lead arguing in meetings, "LAUNCH! We've been in development for three years burning money with no product. Go with what's ready, and the next iteration can be '2.0!'" I was ignored, and, shortly thereafter left the company (the final straw is a pretty good story - TL/DR version, was told to completely redo a bunch of music, the CEO played an edit of the video and said, "I want it to sound exactly like this temp track" I responded, "Great! That's the last track I turned in! Video is ready to upload..." and the "CEO backtracked and insisted on new music anyway...), with a prediction the company would be bankrupt in six months. It was five months. Millions of investor money flushed cuz the CEO was a deadly combination of perfectionist and idiot.
"Sometimes moving fast and breaking things is how progress gets made", Hank Green says, "But it's also how things get broken, and sometimes those things are people." And yet, writing in an online space is more cusioned and malleable than most things. I'm not a fiction writer. That's a part of brain that isn't operational, but the ability to learn out loud, to flesh out ideas publically, suits me. It helps me stay consistent, helps me be accountable, but it also allows me to be adaptive, to be iterative. To say "fuck it" and just publish it. Knowing that I always have the option to revisit it, to reinvent it, if ever I need to. And yet, some writing is still slow for me, but I suppose that's something I'm learning to understand too.