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You've got one hour
It’s Friday night, the clock just struck 10 pm, and I have nothing written yet.
Actually, that’s not completely true. Earlier in the week, I rambled some thoughts into this cool AI tool called AudioPen that my friendmade while I was walking to the hospital here in Sonoma to get my blood drawn for some labs. The concept behind AudioPen is that it takes your unstructured thoughts and attempts to rewrite them into something more coherent. It’s pretty damn magical. But I’m not going to use anything it came up with for this post.
The idea behind what I was carrying on about for a few minutes during that walk was how as someone who shares my words on the internet I generally have no idea how well they will be received.
There are times when I have an inkling that a piece will do well. Like this one. Or this one. But there are plenty of other examples where I felt the same way and they didn’t resonate with readers as much as I thought they would.
Then there are times when I’m confident that a piece won’t do well at all. And yet, I still publish them. Last week’s piece about golf is the most recent example. Perhaps it’s obvious because it’s a statistical fact that the vast majority of people could care less about golf. And including the word “golfer” in the title was a choice that I knew would likely reduce email open rates, which it did, even though it was a reference to a line from a cult classic that’s in my top five movies of all time.
But there are other times when a piece does unexpectedly well. Like this one. Or this one. I’m not claiming that they’re masterpieces. Far from it. I wrote both of them fairly quickly and had basically zero expectations for how well they would perform.
The point of all this is to say that you never know what will resonate with people and hit them at just the right moment in their lives. It should allow you to separate the creative work from the result. And that should be freeing.
So in an effort to embrace that fact, I’ve given myself exactly one hour to complete this piece, and to let whatever happens, happen. I’m currently 28 minutes in at this point. Damn, time flies (when you’re attempting to crank out a piece without letting the editor inside you hinder the flow too much).
In an ideal world, you would spend more time than I am right now to consider the quality of your work and how true it is for you, instead of appeasing an audience. But that’s easier said than done. The beauty—and danger—of publishing things on the internet is the access it gives you to near-instant feedback. I worry that we’re devolving into a world of mediocrity—where the raw humanity and life is sucked out of our creative work in the name of “producing content” that only adds to the noise.
This is why I’m proud to be working with the team at Foster to design and build our next experience for writers called Season 3: The Artisan’s Way.
As part of that work, I’ve been chatting with numerous people who have applied to join the season. They’re just short 15-minute calls, although they often go over because I light up and get excited to talk about what we’ve created and how I think it will be transformative for the writers who join. Actually, I know it will be because the last season was for me.
I’m excited to be working as a 1:1 coach during Season 3. And I'm stoked to be doing a workshop with my way-funnier-than-me friendthat's all about how vulnerability and levity in writing are bedfellows. Not in that way. Get your head out of the gutter.
There will be other workshops from awesome people like, , , , and a bunch more who aren't taggable on Substack.
Anyway, my allotted hour is nearly up and I’m ready to veg out for a bit before bed.
If you’re a person who writes and publishes words on the internet (or elsewhere, for that matter), you should check out Season 3. It starts on May 30th and I’d love to write alongside you then.
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