You’d think I would’ve learned by now. You’d think by the fifth or tenth time I would’ve recognized what’s going on. You’d think I’d know how to avoid it by now.
There’s too much to learn. There’s too much content to consume. There’s too much content to create. My attention is divided into too many pieces to count.
And too many people are talking all at once.
It’s official: I’ve bitten off more than I can chew yet again.
This is a habitual thing for me. When I get excited about shiny new things I get too deep into the rabbit hole. So deep, that it’s hard to climb out and get any actual work done.
How can this possibly continue on? I have a fixed amount of time in my days. I can’t keep filling it with more stuff—more newsletters, more tweets, more Discord chat communities, more Zoom calls, more things that aren’t adding enough value to my life.
Something has to give.
Lately, my days have felt like a whirlwind. I’ve been doing a mix of part-time work and the occasional one-off freelance job, yet I feel busier than I have in years.
As evidenced by the weird-looking profile pic I’m using on my Twitter account (pictured below) now, I’ve been dabbling in crypto, and NFTs, more specifically.
It’s from a project called Omnimorphs that I minted the other day. Minting can most simply be explained as meaning nobody has owned that image before me. Right now, I could sell it for about $600, but I believe it will be worth much more than that in the long run. Beyond the price, I think the art looks cool and they’re doing some interesting things with the underlying code.
The crypto and NFT world moves quickly. Like, extremely quickly. Sometimes it feels as if logging off to go on a walk or to run an errand or whatever can potentially cost me thousands of dollars. Several weeks ago, I somehow missed the launch of an NFT project called Loot and some of my friends are selling theirs for tens of thousands of dollars.
One friend even paid off their mortgage with the proceeds from it and some of our mutual friends sent him this:
The needlepoint reads, “The house that fucking around on the Internet built”.
All this is to say, the fear of missing out (FOMO) is real.
On top of simply keeping up with everything, I’m trying to delve into too many projects at once, which means none of them are getting done. Here’s a quick rundown of all my current projects and ideas:
This newsletter (don’t worry, this one is most important to me and it’s not going anywhere)
My memoir book (I’m about 75% of the way done with my book proposal, but then I need to pitch it to agents)
A podcast where I interview memoir writers (I like this idea and it would be fun, but it’s on hold for now)
A publication on a crypto-based writing platform called Mirror where I interview NFT artists and do a write-up on them (possibly in the works, maybe?)
Learning how to code my own writing-related NFT projects (this is getting higher and higher on my list each day, especially because some friends offered to help me)
This is… a lot. Too much, in fact. And I didn’t even list the work I actually get paid to do right now.
Yet despite all these exciting projects and ideas, I end up clearing notifications and keeping up with chat groups throughout most of my weekdays. It makes doing the deeper work and getting into the flow required to move those projects forward much harder to get into. If you take into account that I like to actually be involved within these communities, rather than only being a lurker, it adds up to near-constant distraction and eventual burnout.
Am I avoiding something by getting so immersed in these communities? Am I distracting myself from doing the deeper, harder work?
The answer to both of these questions is yes, most likely.
As I mentioned in last week’s piece, it took me almost three months to launch this newsletter. Those months were filled with subscribing to a ton of other newsletters, getting my Substack site set up, writing some pieces ahead of time, and worrying that I was going about it all wrong. Meanwhile, I was battling notifications, work emails, the allure of consuming content, and myriad other things. I wouldn’t say I’m an over-planner, so the months it took to get this thing launched wasn’t about that. It had more to do with the fear of starting something and putting myself out there in a vulnerable way.
We all live in our own digital worlds and they’re riddled with things that are constantly vying for our attention. But almost none of these things are helping us be better people who do creative work and put a piece of ourselves out into the world.
So how do I/we combat these things and actually sit down and do the work?
On a practical level, I’ve turned off all notifications that aren’t from a living, breathing person who’s trying to reach me. I’ve also been unsubscribing from newsletters that have started to feel like a chore to read (I realize it’s risky to mention this within my newsletter and I hope you stick with me).
Beyond the practical, I need to not feel the need to keep up with everything all of the time. It’s an impossible task to accomplish anyway. I need to be okay with missing things sometimes. With crypto and NFTs, in particular, it can feel like I’m late to the party and I need to always be plugged into what’s happening, but the reality is that they’re still very new.
There will be plenty of opportunities in the future, especially if I put my own projects out there. As the saying goes, fortune favors the bold. In my case, being bold means consistently producing interesting creative work and sharing it with others. The more I do that, the higher the probability I’ll have for an out-sized outcome. And even if I don’t see the results as added digits to my bank account, I’ll have a rewarding experience along the way.
I can live with that.
Someone else’s words to read (and art to look at)
A few months ago, I met Nishant Jain, writer of the SneakyArt newsletter, in a Substack group I’m in (yes, one of those Discord communities I mentioned). He shares his line drawing art, which he draws in public spaces with a fountain pen and a sketchbook. It’s delightful.
Check out this recent short post from Nishant:
Thanks for being here. As we would say in the NFT community, ily fren.
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Honest and insightful. It's reassuring and comforting to hear someone else's self-talk and find similarities with my own. Thanks Lyle!
Completely relate to this right now. I too am in the process of Marie Kondo-ing my internet life. So much of it I just don’t need anymore.