Do a lot so you can fail a lot.

I have a friend who is writing a book. He’s good, I’ve read his work. He’s very private with his progress, he doesn’t talk about his writing much. He’s been working on his novel for about 3 years now, he said he’s almost halfway done.

I reviewed another segment of his work he had sent me recently. The writing was very good. He’ll probably continue to send me segments as he continues to write.

Here’s what he is signing up for with his current mindset about writing.

  1. No one can hurt me with criticism about my work, because no one will ever see it.
  2. I usually receive good feedback from the few people I share my work with, so I’ll continue to receive positive feedback if I just keep sending them stuff.
  3. It’s really cool being the guy “who is writing a novel.” I’ve enjoyed that privilege for years, and will for probably a few more years, at least.

Here’s the fundamental problem with my friend: his first book is almost certainly going to suck, as most first attempts do. And he will waste about 6 years before he realizes that.

I’ve written 2 eBooks. Both aren’t that good. However, my 2nd one was a little better than my first. I didn’t sell a single copy of my first eBook.

I sold 20 copies of my 2nd eBook.

I wonder how many copies I’ll sell of my 3rd eBook? I’m betting more than 20.

I wonder if my friend will sell any copies of this book. It’s actually a decent read so far, so maybe he will.

But if his dream to be a writer (which he told me it is), he’s going to need to write a lot. And write a lot faster. And fail a lot in his writing.

Ira Glass has some great advice for beginning creatives, which can be summed up here:

The most important possible thing you can do is a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Because it’s only by actually going through a huge volume of work you’re going to close that gap.

My friend has a huge gap — of time, of talent, of skill — between where he is now and becoming a successful writer. Only by completing an enormous volume of work that is probably mediocre will be ever achieve the ability to make consistent, excellent work.

Stop wasting time protecting yourself from criticism. Stop avoiding that realization all successful creatives experience at one point: that right now, your work probably sucks. But that’s OK, because if you keep going, one day you’re realize it doesn’t suck.

Do a huge volume of work, as fast as you’re able to.


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Writer for CNBC, Business Insider, Fast Company, Thought Catalog, Yahoo! Finance, and you. Come say hey.

Writer for CNBC, Business Insider, Fast Company, Thought Catalog, Yahoo! Finance, and you. Come say hey.