Have you ever started writing something, gotten about 2/3rds of the way through, and decided that the thing that you’re writing isn’t worth saying at all?
That’s how I’ve spent most of my life on the internet, and to be honest, I’m tired of it.
There’s a lot of people on the internet like me, often called lurkers. The most common reason for lurking is simple enough, fear. Fear of getting into a futile internet argument, fear of not adding anything of value to the conversation or fear of saying something you’ll later regret.
The thing I fear the most is not adding anything of value. When I start writing something, a tweet, article, email, whatever, I worry that I’ll bother someone. I worry that what I want to talk about isn’t what someone wants to hear from me. So I say nothing instead.
But something changed in the last few days. Maybe I had my “F This” Moment, I honestly don’t know.
It’s not like I’ve never shared stuff with the world. I’ve published something like 20 articles in the last 3 years, many of them I’m really proud of! It’s really some of my best work. That’s part of the problem though, I would only publish the very best. Anything that I didn’t think was good enough I just wouldn’t publish, or worse, I wouldn’t even start on it.
This quote from Ira Glass on the topic has really stuck with me. To paraphrase, people who do creative work do it because they have good taste, and they want to make good things. When you’re just starting out, your work will disappoint you, since your skills lag behind your taste. You’ll see that your work isn’t as good as others that you admire. You have to do a bunch of practice before your skills catch up with your taste.
I think this quote 100% applies to me. There’s a difference between the best I can theoretically do, and trying my best. Most of the time I’m not going to be performing at my peak, nobody can. But when I notice the gap between my taste and my skills, that’s not a reason to give up. I need to remind myself that the only way I’ll close that gap is to practice.
I have to publish the stuff that I think no one will care about because I’m probably wrong. There’s a whole lot of people out there, someone is going to get some value out of what I have to say.
The nice thing is that I love making things. I really do, and that’s reason enough to make them. And I love sharing what I make with the internet. So I’m going to stop preventing myself from doing what I love!
So I’m going to tell my inner critic to shut up more often, to resist the impulse to lurk. Instead, I’ll get feedback from others, and learn by doing. I’m putting my trust in you, internet. To tell me when I can do better, and where our interests overlap.
This has been a very different article than what I typically post. I don’t usually do public commitments, but this time I felt like I couldn’t actually stick to this unless I posted publicly about it, that’s kinda the whole point 😂.
Since I like to end on a question, I’d like to ask this: Are you someone, or do you know someone, who is struggling because of feelings like this? Let me know, I’d really love to connect with more people who struggle with this.