The Specific 001: Hello Friend
This week, my results so far in a writing program, and one of those generic advice that irks me
This is the first issue of the Specific newsletter. Each week, I will pick 1 - 3 things that are top of mind to share. So, get next week’s post by subscribing.
Subscribe (it’s free!) to get next week’s post.
The Ship 30 for 30 August 2022 Experiment
Exception to the Make Money Help People Advice
Experimenting with Ship 30 August ‘22
I took part in the August 2022 cohort for the writing program Ship 30 for 30. It should end by Sept 11 which is about 2 days away from the time of this writing.
My results are:
1. Gained about 32 more followers over 28 days
2. Published 22 essays over 28 days
Which was about 400 - 500 words for each essay, for a total of about 9,900 words. If I include the drafts I have abandoned halfway, the number would have been even higher.
Why Didn’t Hit 1 Essay Everyday?
I tried but I wanted to balance consistency of output with minimum standards of quality.
Any Key Takeaways?
But, the key questions for this experiment are:
Have I tried anything really new? Have I learned anything permanent?
Since I have named this newsletter “The Specific”, I intend to give specific answers to these questions in great detail in future issues.
One learning I can share here is how I have a hard limit for a single block of consistent effort. I need to spend 2-2.5 hours straight in order to have some decent output of writing at the end.
It does NOT necessarily mean 1 block of 2-2.5 hours will result in 1 publishable piece. Sometimes, it does, yes. Usually, for 1 published essay, I need 2-4 such blocks.
But, to feel a milestone has been reached, the block of 2-2.5 hours appears to be non-negotiable.
And, if I exceeded the maximum 2.5 hours, I hit diminishing returns.
After over 10,000 words in drafts, this pattern seems to be surprisingly stable.
How many such blocks a day depends on the other commitments I have scheduled.
2-3 blocks a day is a sustainable rate. Sometimes, I have a 4 block day. But that happens once a month at best. I don’t measure time I break in between blocks nor do I set a time limit for breaks.
I find that things like:
naturally occurring deadlines from promises to customers,
natural boredom from the other parts of life,
and my own internal appetite for work
will soon lead me back for the next block.
Not forcing things is great for my own mental well-being.
An Exception to the "Make Money By Helping People" Advice
There’s this common advice about making money by helping people. Here’s an example.
I’m not criticizing Hypefury for tweeting this. They are not the originator of this advice. Just the one I remember.
My engineer brain, which sometimes takes things too literally, finds this advice annoyingly incomplete.
My old philosophy professor taught me to disprove a statement, just find a counterexample. So, I’m going to cite one way of making money that does not fall into any of the 3 categories.
Let’s take people who make video games, movies, tv shows, or anything in the entertainment and the arts. Then, test them against each of the 3 ways cited.
Save time? No, you may even think it’s wasting time if you’re not enjoying the entertainment.
Save money? Tell that to the people canceling their Netflix accounts.
Make money? Furthest thing away from it.
Maybe we should add a 4th way — “Don’t help people. Entertain them.” — to that list, don’t you think?
This is a topic I will revisit a few more times in future issues given my career choice of working for myself. Perhaps a more complete framework that focuses on being actually useful instead of being pithy and memorable is what’s needed.
I want to thank Chris Wong , Louie Bacaj, and Sam Cho for reading drafts of this.
That’s it for this week. I’ll talk to you again, next week!
P.S. you can respond directly to this email. I read every reply. I'd love to hear from you.