4 minute read

Purpose: This is a pep talk document. If you’re ever on the fence about writing a post. Return to this place.

The only way to fail is not to finish writing it

It’s literally impossible to fail because it’s too low quality, too hard to read, wrong software, planned wrong, confusing, etc

Have you seen the Internet? It’s basically inconceivable that you will write something below average

Hence, I strongly advise you to:

  • Don’t edit before publishing. Huge mistake. Write a draft and publish it. Your chances of actually editing and publishing are low.
  • Don’t plan a series. That’s just another excuse to edit previous posts instead of writibg new ones
  • Keep them short. Don’t write any post you can’t write and publish in a single sitting
  • Don’t promise later posts. Promises of future posts just mean that in the future instead of writimg a post you’ll put off writing a different one.
  • Stop reorganizing. This is just another form of editing. Peak form is to start at the top, write until you get to the bottom, and then publish.
  • You have no readers, so you cannot waste their time, or confuse them, or dash their hopes. Your modal reader is in the far future, and they won’t read your back catalog, so it doesn’t matter what you write.
  • Nothing stops you from just writing one post and not calling it a blog. You can always retroactively make it a blog post once you have a bunch. This is another form of not making promises

If you don’t yet have a blog set up, I recommend not doing that. Write markdown, convert to HTML, and put that on your website. You can always add css, comments, etc later. Fiddling with blog software is a classic form of not writing.

Post about new posts on Twitter.

I think writing a blog is fantastic

From Pavel Panchekha

In my experience with this advice, it is extreme enough to push you in the right direction, even if I break every single one of the rules.

Creation Comes In Many Forms

Here’s some things I’ve created recently:

  • music
  • drawing still life

  • food one-pot pasta

Many principles of creating apply to all of these forms. That means you can take advice from many different places. And practicing one form of creating is practicing all forms.

Paul McCartney on songwriting:

I would kinda go with it and just kinda follow the trail. I think the main thing is just stick with it and not just go “oh this is terrible.” Because often the second verse or the chorus can get great, and then you can go back and fix the beginning.

Once you’re writing a song and it feels good, you can’t betray the song and say “I’m not gonna finish you because you sound like something I’ve heard before.” You owe it to the song and to yourself to just go with it and finish it.

The process that John and I used… was just basically to sit down, come up with a bit of an idea of a song, and finish it. Just keep doing it, keep doing it, until you got to the end, and then you’d written the song. Which I think was probably good, rather than having a little fragment, a little sketch, that maybe months later you’ll return to and you’ll be trying to recapture the vibe…. It’s too easy to put ideas down and then just not bother.

Creating Is a Muscle

Start with ideas you can complete in a single session. Do that over and over. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tweet or a post or a song or a drawing. Just one session. Over time, you’ll develop creation habits that let you tackle larger, multi-session projects. Where you’re able to set something down and pick it up again later. But that doesn’t happen automatically when you’re out of practice.

Sometimes (often) something you will make will take more than one session. That’s ok.

Sometimes (often) you will aim to finish something in one session, get distracted or tired or stressed out, and not finish it. That’s ok. Leave the work. Return to it if you feel a pull, but be ok with leaving it unfinished and trying again on a new project.

Anxious or critical thoughts might often arise. It takes practice to learn to anticipate and make room for these thoughts. Shorter projects tend to have fewer such thoughts, but they build your capacity for taking on bigger projects.

Perfectionism is a form of anxious thought. It stems from the belief that perfect is incredible and anything less than perfect is garbage. The truth is that done is better than perfect. And the truth is that nothing is ever done. A post can always be written and published a second time, or updated in place. Have you seen how many famous artists and scientists rehash the same ideas in work after work? They are iterating in public. Christopher Nolan made “Following” before he made “Memento.”

Perfection is impossible. You can’t get there by thinking your way to it. But you can get closer by doing more, shipping imperfect things so that the next thing you ship is a little more perfect. There is no other way.

Creating is a muscle. Learn to turn thinking into doing. Stuckness into action. It’s difficult. It takes time. But creating is everywhere, so this practice can reorient your entire world.

Create for Yourself

It’s easy to get hung up on the audience for something you make. Yes, audience is important, but when you’re just getting started your audience is you. I write songs as containers for my feelings. I make food to give me sustenance. I write posts to get the ruminating thoughts out of my head. If other people enjoy what I make, that’s great. But if they don’t like it, that’s ok too. If it satisfied me, that’s good enough.