I know I don’t write these very often. It’s not that I don’t have fascinating things to share all the time. Rather, I employ a deliberate content strategy based on artificial scarcity. Like DeBeers does with diamonds. Is it working? …hello?
I gave the site a quick design refresh. If you’re recommending this to a friend, you know what to do.
(That was a trap. We never recommend the Maven Game, remember?)
Also, rocket scientist and law professor Ozan Varol interviewed me for his new Famous Failures project. (I didn’t have the heart to tell him about the famous part.)
Creativity isn’t about keeping your nose clean; it’s about getting into trouble.
My son and I went to see Wonder Woman this weekend. (My wife was too busy taking care of our daughter. Men, amirite?)
There’s a moment in the film—no spoilers—when our heroes are pinned down in a British trench along the Western Front. Diana wants to go help some innocent people in the distance. Her “guy-Lois” Steve mansplains to her that the ground between trenches is known as “No Man’s Land” for a reason.
“No man can cross it!” (Emphasis Chris Pine’s, bless him.)
Can you imagine a better setup for Wonder Woman to pop on her Amazonian tiara and charge a machine gun nest? You can’t, don’t bother.
I like Repo Man. I’ve seen it a million times. Repo Man is what we used to call a “cult film.” Remember those?
Cult films were very good in some ways, weird or flawed in pretty much every other. Cult films were “not for everybody” even though, by definition as expensive feature films, they were intended to be. However intensely they pleased a few, they failed because they alienated the many…
Oh, the strange notions we hold about talent and quality.
As a kid—if you were lucky—you were encouraged to read a lot of junk. Every week, your parents would take you to the library to fetch a pile of slim paperbacks with shiny, eye-popping covers and curling, thumb-worn pages.
There were nights I’d get in bed and happily read two Piers Anthony books in a row, falling asleep an hour before dawn. I’d spend the following day nodding off in class without the faintest memory of what I’d enjoyed reading so much the night before.
(I didn’t have a bedtime, per se.)
As a parent, I understand it much more clearly now. At first, you’re worried that your children will never learn to read. You read to them every night and get them phonics workbooks and just do everything you can to get them over that hump.
Once they learn to read, you worry that they’ll never like books, and thus never climb the corporate ladder by speed-reading Peter Drucker on the commuter train in from Greenwich. So you try to get them hooked on the process of reading. You think like a drug dealer: how do I get them so addicted to reading that they can never stop? After all, I don’t want them spending every evening of their adult lives trawling Netflix for obscure reality shows. (“I learned it from watching you, Dad!”)
Last week’s essay stoked a bit of an uproar. This reaction surprised me. For once, I didn’t intend to piss anyone off.
The gist, if you’re new: quantity is the key contributing factor in commercial success for writers. Not quality, i.e. “talent,” whatever that is.
People took offense, in a social media kind of way.
I’ve come to terms with it: commercial success for authors boils down to quantity. That’s it. I wish I could say that talent plays a part, but it doesn’t, guys. It just doesn’t. The writer who wins is the writer who just kept writing.
Here’s the truth: if you figure out how to establish and maintain a heavy, relentless routine for writing, you will find an audience. Maybe not right away, but eventually. (You have to share what you write, of course.)
As you increase your productivity, you will increase your audience. Again, eventually.
Explosive growth comes down to luck, but when you write and share regularly, you make your own luck.