1 Out of 100
The prolific creator is inspired by possibility but works based on probability. Making more art increases the probability of your success. If one of out hundred things succeed, you can make 100 pieces of art, or you can bet the farm one piece of art. The first increases the probability of success, but it also opens you to the possibility that anything can happen.
How Do I Know If It Worked?
Before Seth Godin starts any project, he says to himself, “This might not work.” Two questions should come before this:
- How do I know if it worked?
- How do I know if it didn’t work?
This book might not work. If my criteria for whether or not worked is hitting The New York Times Best Sellers List, it definitely won’t work. It’s self-published and free so it’s automatically ruled out.
On the flip side, if I’m aiming to strike a chord and say something that resonates with one reader, maybe two, three, and then a thousand, it worked. If I want to create something I’m proud to put my signature on, it worked. You have the power to define whether or not something worked.
Treat Failure Like a Scientist
My father is a scientist. The bulk of his work is coming up with a hypothesis and testing it. Sometimes he’s wrong. But when he’s wrong, he doesn’t tell himself a story about why he’s not a good scientist or cut out to be a professor. He collects data, changes his hypothesis accordingly and conducts another experiment.
Scientists treat failure as data. Artists make up stories about themselves, about their work, and what they’re capable of. That’s the blessing and curse of our ability to turn facts into fiction. The power we have to imagine what doesn’t exist also occasionally malfunctions, causing us to imagine catastrophes, disasters, and debacles.
Nobody Gives a Shit What You’re Going to Start
There are a lot of people who spend a great deal of time talking about the work they plan to do and the art they’re going to make. At least once a day, I see an announcement that somebody is starting the book they’re going to write, the podcast they’re going to launch, etc.
As Ryan Holiday once said to me, “You’re being congratulated for something you haven’t even done yet.” He never talks about his books until they’re finished. He’s written 6 in 6 years. Do we really need any more evidence? The day I wrote this, I was on Amazon and saw that Ryan’s next book was already available for pre-order.
2.4 billion people use Facebook every day. That’s a lot of people who are talking about what they’re going to do instead of doing them. Talk about the things you’ve finished instead of the things you’re going to start. Status updates are where dreams go to die. Doing the work is where they come to life.
I don’t give a shit what you’re going to start. Tell me what you’ve finished. Show me what you’ve shipped.
This is part of a series about how to become a more prolific creator. You can download the entire book for free here.