Minimum Viable Post: the Lean Approach to Writing Your Masterpiece

Writing good blog is just as hard as writing good code. You need to practice.

Biting off more than you can chew is demoralising.

You wake up with an idea for the world’s greatest blog post, get the first half done in one sitting, then you run out of puff and never come back to it. It feels stink. If you do that a few times, you start to convince yourself that you’re just no good at writing.

Then you give up.

The alternative is to write the Minimum Viable Post.

Had a flash of insight recently? Read a good book? Met some interesting people?

Sit down with a coffee and headphones, and write a little story about it. Give yourself 50 minutes max to publish something.

Don’t worry too much about your audience, just practice articulating yourself in written words.

You want to get from inspired to published in one sitting.

If you get in this habit, I guarantee your capacity will increase over time. It’s a muscle you need to exercise like any other.

When you’re starting out, your writing muscles will be able to lift an idea that’s maybe a couple hundred words big. If you lift one of those every week or two, by the end of the year you’ll be able to lift ideas that are one, two, three thousands words. Big ideas that are worth sharing.

Most of the writing I did last year were these little ideas: like Happy Guts, a 2 minute story of that time I met a nutritionist. It’s not groundbreaking stuff, but it is good for stretching the fingers.

Once I got in the habit of getting from inspired to published in one sitting, my capacity got progressively bigger.

A year after that nutritionist story, I wrote the story I feel most proud of, about having feelings at work. These 2300 words arrived in my imagination basically fully formed during the 10 minute bike ride home from the city. Because my writing muscles were already warmed up, when I got off my bike I just sat down and spat the whole story out in one go.

I didn’t actually publish that one immediately, but I got it close enough to done in that first sitting that I had no other choice but to finish it. With some editing input and even a couple of illustrations from my buddies, I got to polish up a piece that actually feels like an accurate representation of my thoughts on a complex topic.

That feels awesome.

Do it with a buddy.

Yesterday my friend Mix made an excellent throwaway comment on Slack. He’d scrawled a couple of simple diagrams to illustrate a new approach to lecturing that he’s been playing with.

As soon as I saw the comment, I pounced: “Mix can I help you publish exactly that as a blog post immediately?”

We got together later in the day, and within an hour, we’d published this post about codesign in education. It’s not groundbreaking either, but I reckon it’s a cool little story. In the 24 hrs it’s been public, more than 100 people have read it. That feels good.

Tell me your tiny truth.

You do have a masterpiece in you, you really do. Your unique perspective and experiences and ideas add up to a peculiar insight into the world’s most complex challenges that no one else can see. But even you won’t write a masterpiece in your first sitting.

So maybe have a go at breaking off a tiny piece first, or find a sparring partner? Warm up those writing muscles. Tell me a little story.

I can’t wait to read it.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 284,454+ people.

Subscribe to receive our top stories here.