Stop Trying to Hold Onto Your "Good Ideas"
Your work doesn't count until you expose it to the world.
Your ideas suck.
Like, they’re really really bad.
If you haven’t created content before, your content is going to suck.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard statements like these:
I want to put my work out there, but I don’t want to waste all of my good ideas right away. I want to wait until I’m more established until I get them out there.
That doesn’t even make sense. How are you going to get more established without, you know, establishing yourself?
What’s your plan? You’re going to somehow be able to predict which content will hit and which won’t before you put it out into the world? And then your way to build an audience to share your good ideas with is to share all of your bad ideas?
Deep down, you know that, but you’re creating this story in your head out of fear.
Or they’ll say things like:
I’m in the percolating stage. I’m collecting notes, refining ideas, and getting myself ready to share with the world.
Some aspiring creators have been in this ‘percolating’ stage for years. And 99 percent of them stay there. They have all of these drafts, collected notes, and journals, none of which ever sees the light of day.
A lot of my advice for creators is repetitive because they all get the same basic things wrong. It’s an insidious pattern that poisons their minds and keeps them from ever having a career.
“But I Don’t Want to Be a Hack”
A lot of aspiring creators have this misguided notion that they are true artists.
Their excuse for not putting their work out there is that they don’t want to publish anything that isn’t quality.
Like I said before, by definition, the first creations you put into the world aren’t going to be quality because you haven’t developed the skill to create quality work yet.
They have this fear of making anything that seems ‘low-brow,’
Writers who are afraid of writing a simple blog post like a listicle
Video creators who want to create HD videos with b-roll, advanced cinematography, and meticulously edited masterpieces
Social media content creators who want to share ground-breaking ideas that no one has ever seen before
You should want to achieve quality.
There are too many creators who will just make anything and throw it out there.
There is something to be said about carefully improving your work with editing, style, and taking the time to research before you create.
But few creators are doing that.
They’re just bullshitting because they’re afraid to put their work out there. That’s all this is.
I learned the basics of how to write blog posts on the internet by writing posts that said: “5 Ways to Do This Or That” and writing basic essays. But that allowed me to write more esoteric work like this 19-minute cultural critique essay I published a few days ago.
Because I learned the basics, I can write advanced essays, and memoir-style posts, tell intricate stories, and highly-detailed tactical guides.
Learning how to write simple posts lead to being able to write entire books. My first book sucked. I can’t even look at it. The idea for the book wasn’t unique and the style was simple and copycat. But that lead to me writing my third book, which dozens of people, some of whom just stumbled upon my work and weren’t in my tribe, called the best self-help book they’ve ever read.
I have ideas for new books. Because I have a foundation, I can stretch my thinking, come up with unique and novel ideas for titles, and write at a level 10x better than I could before.
None of the things I’ve been able to do — write three books, get millions to read my work, and make a full-time living with my writing — would’ve happened if I didn’t write some of the hacky stuff I wrote when I first started.
I’m not ashamed of the hacky blog posts I wrote in the past because those were the most important pieces of writing I ever did.
This isn’t the early 1,900s and you aren’t Franz Kafka or Sylvia Plath. Trust me. We live in a fast-paced world and it’s a better idea to post a bit more frequently and sacrifice a little bit of creative license so you can establish a name for yourself fast.
Practice in Public
I have one mantra for creators:
Your work doesn’t count until you expose it to the world
Drafts don’t count.
Your drawer full of journals doesn’t count. Your roam research and notion files don’t count. Your half-baked ideas don’t count. The ideas that are floating around in your head but aren’t published for someone else to consume…
Don’t f***ing count.
None of your work counts unless you “practice in public.”
I learned that phrase from Jeff Goins years back. When you practice in public you improve faster because you expose yourself to feedback from an audience.
It’s impossible to know which of your ideas are good or bad until someone else sees them. The market, your audience, decides what’s good and what isn’t.
This doesn’t mean you have to pander to them. This doesn’t mean you have to create the same stuff the same way everyone else does. You don’t want to be one of those creators who looks and sounds like everyone else.
You do have to put your ideas out into the world and see what happens.
When I teach new writers how to write, I give them a few simple structures to run with. My goal is to get them out of those structures as soon as possible. I’m not trying to spam the world with fluffy content no one wants to read. But I do want them to get their feet wet and get momentum so they can come up with unique ideas later.
And that’s what happens.
None of my students sound exactly the same.
I studied blogging under Jon Morrow. I know a lot of other top writers who studied underneath him as well. Take someone like Ben Hardy, who took Jon’s course as well. Ben writes long in-depth analytical articles with a psychological foundation. He doesn’t curse. He has a very pleasant and positive demeanor.
I shoot from the hip. I’m crass. I prefer intuition over deep research. I choose to make observations from common experiences instead of reading peer-reviewed psychology papers. We both learned the same basic blueprint, but have an entirely different output.
People like Ben, or someone like James Clear, take a lot more time and care on their articles than I do. So there is something to be said about publishing more slowly.
But they publish.
And even though they took more time up-front to research before putting their work out there, their first ideas were still pretty bad compared to how good they are now. None of their hard work and effort to come up with good ideas mattered until they put them out there.
If you look at the arc of pretty much any successful creator you’re going to see years of work with lots of misses along the way, especially in the beginning. If you’re afraid to miss, you’re never going to do what it takes to succeed. You’re never going to ‘put up enough shots’ for any of them to fall in.
You’re not ‘holding onto your good ideas.’
You’re just afraid to miss.
You know it. I know it. Stop lying to yourself.
I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. - Michael Jordan
It’s So Simple…
All successful content creators have one thing in common…
They put their ideas into the world.
If you make stuff, put it out consistently, listen to feedback, course correct along the way, and allow yourself enough time to get good, you will be successful.
If you hold onto your ideas they will die with you when you leave this planet, which may happen sooner than you think.
No one is eagerly waiting to consume your grand ideas anyway.
No one cares.
You have to make them care.
How many posts from me screaming at you to create content is it gonna take for you to actually do it?
You say you have good ideas…
Here’s What to Do Next…
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