If you’ve ever published anything on the web you know what it’s like when all you hear are crickets. No likes, no comments, no reshares.
You think your content sucks because no one’s acknowledging you. But it’s a misconception to sell your work short, especially if it’s your labor of love.
There are 2.1 billion+ people on the Internet. If you’re writing, acting, or sharing your music someone’s going to connect with you. They may be a fan, a teacher, or someone you admire within your scenius. But you’re never going to appeal to everyone.
“The less reassurance we can give you the more important the work is.”
All social media is based on reassurance. That’s why most Instagram content looks the same. If you want to guarantee success, you’ll share photos of beaches, dogs, selfies, and food.
“We were raised to do things that work.”
But why not challenge sameness by trying something new? Go for some tension. Err on the side of being vulnerable if it means you get to make the stuff that makes you happy.
Unlike politics, creativity asks that you own up to being edgy, different. People that make change stand up and take responsibility for causing a ruckus.
“The internet could save your life because it’ll keep you from a lifetime of being told what to do.”
Choose yourself. The rest follows.
All quotes above are from Seth Godin’s most recent presentation. Watch it below.
Being weird used to be lonely. But then the Internet happened.
The web connected the vinyl collectors, the sneakerheads, and the want-to-be Romance novelists. Niches came together, competed, collaborated, cheered each other on while a select few took their micro, macro until their weird became the new standard.
We’re not all weird. We’re not all normal. But some of us are curious and forward-thinking. We search for what’s next before it even hits the trend spotters’ radar. We dig deep in the underground to avoid the peril of sameness.
The closer we get to normal, the closer we are to losing our edge.
Writer’s block is a myth created by people who are afraid to do the work.
There are various reasons writers let the blank page get the best of their emotions.
Trying to be too perfect
Procrastinating en route to excuses that usually include the word “But….”
Unwilling to fail or write poor sentences first
Living up to someone else’s expectations
Being afraid to share their work
Writer’s block appears to be the work of evil. It wants us to quit and hide in shame instead of “dancing with the amygdala” as Seth Godin pleads on the very subject in his new podcast: ‘No such thing (as writer’s block).’ Stream it after the jump.
In reality, no one gets talker’s block just as a plumber never gets plumber’s block or a teacher gets teaching block. Such stuckness is a work of fiction.
Pro tip: The habit of blogging every day helps me defeat writer’s block. The more you write, the more you have to play with. Start your blogging journey and set up your website for FREE on WordPress right here.
Forget inspiration and do the work
If we choose to be professional, we choose to show up consistently and dance with the fear. We develop habits that allow us to unlock what Steven Pressfield calls the resistance in his book The War of Art, compelling the muse to work with us rather than against us.
This is what Seth Godin says on facing the resistance:
“The resistance never goes away. The more important the work is, the louder it gets. The harder you try to make it go away, the harder and more clever it gets in response. The work is doing it when you don’t feel like it. Doing it when it’s not easy.”
Fear leads to inertia which leads to regret. The lizard brain wants us to run away and never come back.
What if instead of giving up, we started writing by doing it poorly, persisting through the maze of bad ideas. Only when we have something to work with can go back we tweak it.
Perfection is futile — writers rarely nail in a good sentence in the first draft. Rough drafts are expectedly shitty. All writing is in the edit, anyway.
“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”
If we write regularly, we’ll get better at avoiding the pain of getting stuck. Habits are everything. But if we do get blocked? Again, keep writing with no regard for perfection.
Said novelist John McPhee: “The funny thing is that you get to a certain point and you can’t quit. Because I always worried: If you quit, you’ll quit again. The only way out was to go forward, to learn your way and write your way out of it.”
In short, heed this writing advice: Don’t whine, don’t complain, get busy and make things. Speed-write, set an imaginary deadline, write by hand — do whatever it takes to get something down. And if we’re still stuck — go for walk while listening to Seth’s podcast below:
“Art is an attitude. Seizing new ground, making connections between people or ideas, working without a map — these are works of art, and if you do them, you are an artist, regardless of whether you wear a smock, use a computer, or work with others all day long.”
Seth Godin updated his ShipIt journal in collaboration with Moo.
The Shipit Journal works for a simple reason: It’s difficult to write things down. Difficult to break a project into small pieces and take ownership over each one. Mostly, it’s difficult to announce to yourself and to your team that you’re actually on the hook to do great work.
I’m delighted to let you know that the journal is back, but it a much more beautiful format. Created in conjunction with my namesake moo.com, you can find it right here.
It’s a blank book, but one with words in it. Designed to have you add the rest of the words, to write in it, to commit, to share, to ultimately make a ruckus.
Because ‘later is not the way you will ship.’ Do the work.
If you use Powerpoint, a few principles and tips to keep in mind when using type on a slide:
Don’t read the words. It’s bad enough that people use Powerpoint as a sort of teleprompter. Much worse that you don’t trust the audience enough to read what you wrote. If you want them to read the precise words, stand quietly until they do. If you want to paraphrase the words, that can work.
Big font, few words. And use pictures. Your narrative is the message.
“The law of linchpin leverage: The more value you create in your job, the fewer clock minutes of labor you actually spend creating that value. In other words, most of the time, you’re not being brilliant. Most of the time, you do stuff that ordinary people could do.
A brilliant author or businesswoman or senator or software engineer is brilliant only in tiny bursts. The rest of the time, they’re doing work that most any trained person could do.
It might take a lot of tinkering or low-level work or domain knowledge for that brilliance to be evoked, but from the outside, it appears that the art is created in a moment, not in tiny increments.”
It often appears that discoveries come out of the blue when in fact, they are the result of consistently doing the work. In other words, big results are the upshot of small things with focus and with care. There is no such thing as overnight success.