Document, Don’t Create

Like most non-creatives, I had a lot of resistance to publishing content online. I felt I didn’t have a body of work ready to publish. But I’ve been encouraged by watching Ali Abdaal’s YouTube videos.

Ali Abdaal recommends the same book to everyone who tells him about their impostor syndrome: Show Your Work, by Austin Kleon. The title comes from doing school assignments where you receive credit for not just the final answer, but for showing how you got there.

“I really like Gary Vaynerchuk’s concept of ‘document, don’t create‘. Document the things you are doing already. Document the things you are already learning. Don’t try to ‘create’ new content.”

Ali Abdaal. YouTube. How to Make Money Online in 2022

In this video, Ali is interviewing the teacher of online writing, David Perell.

“Sell your sawdust. What are the things you’re already doing. How do you take that and turn it into something useful.”

David Perell. YouTube. How to Make Money Online in 2022

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Starting The Creative Craft

It’s amazing how much time I wasted before I started to create some content. Eventually, I did come around to dropping all my fancy ideas for a website and committed to sitting down every day to write.

Get Started To Get Ready

When you’re starting your craft, the most important thing is to do the craft. Anything that takes you away is going to be sub-optimal, even if it’s something the gurus tell you to do.

David Perell. YouTube clip.

It’s a bit like going to the gym when you’re not used to exercise. The hardest part is to create the habit and remove the friction of going. So, at first, even though it’s not best practice, go every day. Then update to best practice once the habit has been established.

As well as writing every day for a fixed duration, I also set a publishing schedule. This felt really tough at first, but I’m getting used to it. I’m also ironing out the little process inefficiencies and learning what I can do best at different times in the day.

Create First, Then Scope

Writing before I was ready also helped overcome my doubts about what topics should be included or excluded from this blog. By reading up on what I was writing about, I discovered logotherapy. And, since writing is thinking, I’m now blogging to myself as I explore my journey of becoming a solo content creator.

We just have to show our work. Gary Vaynerchuk tells us to document the process itself, rather than trying so hard to be a creator.

Quantity Leads, Quality Follows

Ali Abdaal talks about how quantity is the path to quality, and can be more effective than focusing on quality from the start.

This insight counters the resistance of perfectionism. It gives us permission to go ahead and publish before we feel fully ready, while also satisfying the perfectionist urge by promising that this is the fastest route to quality.

My publishing schedule works to force this process along. Ali says: “I think that getting good is often just about putting in the reps, while also having a little bit of a mind on marginal improvement over time.”


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Show Me Your Bad Writing

“Show me your bad writing” says Seth Godin.

Seth is talking about writers’ block. He says it doesn’t exist. What we get stuck on is self-judgement. A fear of how our writing will be received by others. So procrastination sets in.

The solution is to do your bad writing (if seeing it that way is what it takes). Then, says Seth, if you do enough bad writing, it will turn into good writing. Or you’ll discover that it’s not what you’re supposed to be doing.

So here it is.


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First Past The Post

So, I published my first blog post.

It was short and sweet – just seven words. The purpose was to get over that initial resistance to writing and publishing.

The most important part of starting a creative career, is the starting.

It’s important to hit the ‘publish’ button. To get over that inertia and slay the monster of impostor syndrome.

The first time I published, it was scary; but the second time was exciting! It’s so much better than all that plotting and planning and thinking about what might be.


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