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Two Paths to Being a Writer

Question from a reader -

You have maintained your commitment to being prolific which is made even more exceptional by the fact you are travelling around the world at the same time.

I realise your article on being prolific is about this, but accepting that I'm going to release a lot of crap before I realise something good is a tough wall to knock down. My biggest issue writing anything seems to be that it feel insufficent. Naturally no post I write has the length of Steve Yegge, the persuasiveness of Paul Graham, the content of Unqualified Reservations etc. etc. and while I can consciously accept this, there seems to be some mental block. How do you go "that's sufficient" and release it into the wild?

There's two basic approaches to being successful as a writer. The first, we could call the "Paul Graham / Derek Sivers" approach. This is where you explore a lot of ideas privately, go forward with the best ideas you have, and edit and polish the hell out of everything before you release it into the world. If you do this, and you've got talent as a writer, and you've got important ideas - then you're going to consistently only release masterpieces.

The second way is to just write a hell of a lot and know that a number of the things you write will turn out quite well, but your average quality level will be much lower. We could call this the "write every day no matter what" approach.


On Huan M. Nguyen

A critical part of the mastery process is internalization.

There's a point that's reached where you'll perform an action. Outwardly, it looks the same. But on the inside is where the immense difference is, and the distinctive factor between two people of different skill level.

To use a physical example, take tennis. Any number of people might approach a standard forehand stroke and have it look exactly the same, but the point may have a totally different outcome.

One person is thinking: Okay, forehand stroke! Move, feet, shuffle, backswing, keep hand on throat, drop racquet, swing up and through, finish, and recover!

And that person will have a good stroke. At the same time, a second person could execute the exact same action and look the exact same, but the thoughts running through their head will be on a higher level.

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