HACK / MAKE

Flavor

Making things on the internet means that we’re creating a lot more within public view. “Making” now isn’t just crafting in your basement like it used to be. There’s a massive platform and audience online and so it can be intimidating to create and share when we aren’t always so confident in the things we’re creating. In a list of writing tips, Matt Gemmell calls it as it is:

If you’re going to be a football player, you’d better get comfortable with running around on grass. If you’re going to be a writer, get comfortable with hating your work but carrying on anyway. You’re a shit-shoveller, and that stuff is your own. Now make it into sandcastles.

Believe your shit is worth shoveling. Just like back in high school essays, write from the viewpoint that your argument is right and at the same time, try your hardest to actually be right. Just as much as you’re convincing your readers about your argument, you’ll probably have to be convincing yourself of the same thing. If you’re not making educated assumptions and believing them then you’re not pushing your ideas forward. Work in confidence based on your previous experiences because there’s a lot of weight in the things you’ve done before.

It’s those experiences that define the flavor of what you write and what you make. They are your terroir. The things you’ve worked on before, the mistakes you’ve made, the things you think you don’t know, these all give a certain characteristic to what you’re working on. Some of those things are scary but they are part of the job description, so get comfortable with them. As long as you know what you’ve done it’s fine to not know what you’re doing.

But:

How about this? I do know what I’m doing, because I’m writing for you guys, and I feel like I have a firm grasp of what’s going on and what you all think, and what you’d be interested in reading. And years before that, I was designing books, so even though I didn’t know how to ship a book when I sat down to write one a couple years ago, I knew how to make one, and figured out the rest. I have the ability to think in systems and can be incisive and empathetic by understanding how things fit together. I have a knack for saying things lots of other people are thinking. I can have the special courage of stupidity and privilege, because I don’t have to risk much to speak up.

Frank Chimero in his essay The Inferno of Independence mentions that his past experiences have had a major impact of the book he wrote. It also shows that just as much as you should be comfortable with the idea that the thing you’re making is crap and to keep working through that, you need to get comfortable with the idea that what you’re making is great and that you’re the right person to be making it.

When you carry that bit of confidence it lets a richer flavor come through in to what you make.

Thoughts or comments? Let's talk on Twitter or send me an email.