On a ‘writing business’ podcast recently I came across the term ‘Minimum Viable Product.’ I had an idea of what this was referring to, but Wikipedia defines MVP as a version of a product with just enough features to be usable by early customers who can then provide feedback for future product development.
While the artist in me was horrified at the idea of ‘art’ being reduced to such a consumerist level, my inner pragmatist nodded her head and said, ‘seems legit.’
I watched Tick Tick Boom on Netflix last night. (Watch it!!) It broke my heart to think of a writer toiling over one project for eight years only to be asked, ‘what else are you making?’
Brisbane literary agent Alex Adsett urges writers to ‘finish’ a piece and start on the next one. Query that first one but get something new on the boil so that if you do get a call up and the publisher asks, ‘what else are you making?’ You’ll have an answer.
Craig Martelle author, speaker, and guru of the 20booksto50k movement urges writers not to obsess over creating that one perfect story for years and years if their goal is to write a lot of stories, unless building a Tolkienesque world is your goal.
What a lot of people forget is that before J.R.R published the first installment of The Lord of the Rings in 1954, he fought in the Battle of the Somme, published four other major works and was an Oxford professor from 1925 to 1945. He founded a literary society with his pal C.S.Lewis, translated Beowulf, and raised four kids. The prolific writer shared his developing stories of Middle Earth and Gandalf the Grey with his kids, his first ‘readers.’
It is not for me, the world of rapid-release writers and breaking the bank on FB adverts. I personally would prefer to follow Tolkien’s lead; Follow your passion and get eyes on your work constantly. I work on multiple projects at once, am constantly hassling friends and family to read my words, and aim to finish the story to the best of my ability.
Hubby and I used to refer to this as ‘don’t fall in love with it.’ It’s easier with a painting. You can do real and irreparable damage to a painting if you keep messing with it but with a manuscript, you can tinker with that for years.
Don’t get me wrong, I am as in love with writing as I can be. It’s my passion. But I have no illusions about my stories. If I’m writing something, I get it to the MVP stage and get people to read it. I take that feedback on board and use it to keep improving the story and my writing in general. If it’s crap I’ll know about it pretty quickly.
My goal is publication but either way I’m going to keep writing. As Anne Lamott says “Publication is not all its cracked up to be. But writing is…It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the ceremony.”
The moral of this story? Write a lot. Write constantly. Read. Join writing groups. Get feedback. Don’t fall in love with your one story and think it’s going to be the book that changes the world. Remember, you probably have to write your Superbia before you can write your Rent.