Thursday, June 9, 2016

Finishing Sets You Apart More Than You Know

Zestful Blog Post #164

My wife, Marcia, is currently serving as a teaching assistant for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in an online course in game design. (She is a very good programmer and designer.) The course is free; 11,000 people around the world signed up for it.

The course is in the fifth week of its six-week term. As of now, 2,800 people have either introduced themselves or made a comment in the online forum: that is, 2,800 people have participated at all. And 37 have submitted the final assignment, which is a finished game. (Finished more or less; we all understand the concept of a first draft…)

From 11,000 starters to 37 finishers.

Lots of people want to be game designers; they love to play games and they figure they could make one as good as or better than the ones they love. Lots also believe they can become millionaires by designing a cool new game. So they sign up for the course. This is not some crummy tutorial, it is a course designed and presented by MIT, home to the most innovative game lab in the world.

You see where I’m going with this. Lots of people want to write a book; they love to read and they figure they could write a book as good as or better than the ones they love. Lots also believe they can become millionaires by writing a cool new book. [Tiny pause for bark of laughter.]

Your competition is far less competent than you think, and far less committed.

Side note: Marcia took that MIT course herself in 2014. She was one of the few finishers. Apart from designing her game, she actively participated in the forums; she took the trouble to offer ideas and helpful feedback to the others. The professors and assistants thought highly of her. Come time to renew the course in 2016, guess who they asked to be the TA?

That’s all you need to know today.

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  1. In my writers group there are several people who started what were interesting stories, then they just drop out.
    For me the problem isn't a first draft, (sigh) its a final draft. Revision follows revision, ad infinitum.

  2. Yeah, there's definitely a balancing act between perfectionism and shipping the thing... Thanks for looking in, Big Stan.

  3. Well done, Marcia. You are an inspiration!

  4. Thanks for looking in, Terrie. Imma make sure Marcia sees your comment!

  5. Slogging through writing my 3rd trad-pub Tarot book. This baby will be 85K+ words (always trying to outdo myself). Needed this shot in the arm, Elizabeth. Thanks!

  6. This came just at the right time. Just received a rejection email for a short story and am working on my first novel. Working hard and learning so much from great feedback. But feeling a bit overwhelmed too. Thank you so much for the reminder, and thank your wife for allowing you to share her inspirational story. You both made my night.

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  8. Hey Janet and Laney, thanks for stopping by, and you're welcome, of course! (Laney, your post occurred twice, so I deleted one. Not sure why that happens sometimes...) A writer writes. That's it.

  9. I'm echoing what Laney said - this was fortuitously timed. It's such a good reminder that finishing matters and submitting matters. Three back-to-back rejections made me realize a current story needs (and deserves) more work. But this hit the message home.

    Oh, and Marcia rocks! Thanks for sharing her story and congrats to her for the acknowledgement she earned.

  10. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, Vicki! I'll let Marcia know what you said....


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