Don’t Get Done, Get Half-Done

You all probably know the mantras about the Cult of Done by now.

  • Perfect is the Enemy of Done.
  • Perfect is the Enemy of Good.
  • Done is the Engine of More.
  • etc.

Mantras are easy. Living them is hard, at least for me. The principles in the Cult of Done are damned good ones to live by, but if you’re in a big project that people have been aware of and have been waiting patiently for for a long time (like the Dresden Files RPG, and for some folks Mythender), Cult of Done is intimidating. You…okay, I don’t procrastinate out of laziness, but out of fear. If I fuck up, it’s rather public. That’s some harrowing shit, yo. Especially when you have a reputation for pointing out the shortcomings in the works of others.[1]

Then I had a thought that’s helped me move forward on a project:

Get Half-Done. Worry About the Other Half Later.

That’s as simple a mantra as any other, but for me it contains a few thoughts:

  • I should think about what “Half-Done” is. For Mythender’s character creation chapter, Half-Done is “rewrite those blurbs at the top, change three questions, publish the Word doc without fucking with the layout.”
  • I should then understand what I perceive the other half to be. For the same, it’s “Talk with people about if that text resonates. Half people try it. Fuck with the layout in InDesign at some point to make the playtest doc.”
  • Do I feel like those are more or less equal? I think I do. That means it’s probably a good Half-Done space.
  • Can I get those done in a week? I think I can. Rock on.
  • Do I have someone I’m delivering the Half-Done state to? If not, there’s nothing to hold me to saying “oh, I can get a little more done.” And that’s bullshit. For this chapter, the Half-Done is being put on the Internet.
  • I will worry about the other half later. Not while I’m doing this half, damnit.

We’ll see how well this works for me. And maybe it’ll work better for some of you, which is why I posted it.

– Ryan

[1] I do that partly to articulate for my own benefit what I should be understanding. My blog is my personal master class on textual presentation. It’s been suggested that I write a book on the subject, like one might write a disseration. Maybe one day, when I, you know, am more certain of what I’m talking about don’t have other books to write. :)


2 Responses to Don’t Get Done, Get Half-Done

  1. Burrowowl says:

    I expected this article to be conspicuously unfinished. A milestone I reached a while ago was when I finally accepted that somebody was going to poke holes in what I’m making, no matter how finished I thought it was when I showed it to them. Something wasn’t mentioned, some unnecessary adjective was included, some feature wasn’t added. I’m not in the business of publishing any “finished products,” so I have the luxury of taking the position that everything is beta, always.

  2. Laura says:

    This is such a fantastic way to look at large scale endeavors. I think one of the hardest things is just trying to figure out where to break up the work in order to make the goals a bit more manageable. Half done is a great way to look at a body of work in order to get it done in reasonable pieces. Thanks for bringing this up, Ryan!