We use a muscle when sharing our work with the world. This muscle is called the shipping muscle – and like any other muscle in our body, we can train it to make it stronger.

The shipping muscle analogy directs us to perceive shipping as a skill obtained through purposeful training. This idea is originally shared by Rob Walling. I'm not a big fan of analogies as mental models but I do find Walling's idea extremely helpful when dealing with the fear that comes with sharing my own work.

If your fear is preventing you from shipping, you have a weak shipping muscle. If you ship despite the fear, your shipping muscle is strong.

We don't train our shipping muscle in the gym. But if we want to make our shipping muscle stronger, we do have to follow some basic fundamentals of strength training. The first fundamental is progression. The second one is continuity.

If your goal is to bench press 200lbs, should you try to lift 200lbs on your first day at the gym? No (unless you want to get crushed by the weights or break your body in some other way). Instead, we work our way to our goal. We start with the weights that we are able to lift. Next day we'll add some more weights and repeat the process until we reach our goal (this is progression).

Wait... Did I just write "until we reach our goal?" Scratch that.

We are never done with our training. When we quit the gym, our muscles not only stop growing but also start to deteriorate. There is no finishing line. We still show up at the gym after we have reached our goals. We don't expect the sweat and discomfort to stop (even though we sometimes hope for it). Fear of shipping isn't going to go away either. You just have to learn to live with it (this is continuity).

What is the "advice" you or your friends give you when you're struggling to ship? Is it something along the lines of "just ship it" or "there is nothing to be afraid of"?. It's all reasonable advice. However, not always very helpful.

Shipping muscle is a muscle like any other. Therefore, consider the following if you want to become a stronger artist (real artists ship):

  1. Work your way up to more meaningful projects
  2. This exercise work should be regular and never-ending
  3. Learn to live with the fear