The 10 of Coins is about sharing your good fortune with those close to you.
Happy New Year! 🎉 Welcome to 2018.
For starters, I didn’t find last year’s word very…inspiring. In fact, by June, I’d completely forgotten it. I had to dig back through the archives to look it up. So much for a compelling word…(it was “significance,” by the way). And second, my word was not very measurable. What did “significance” mean? My definition, according to the original article, was basically: “I’ll know it when I see it.”
But then, several readers emailed in over the past couple weeks to see if I’d chosen one yet. And that’s when I realized—if a year-old article was memorable enough that you’d reach out to ask about it, it was probably worth doing again. So this year, (inspired by you) I’ve decided to write my 2018 version with an eye towards correcting the mistakes of 2017.
Looking Back On 2017
In 2017, my word was “significance.” And even if I’d forgotten the word itself, I can still remember my mindset when I chose it. That was back in December of 2016 and Donald Trump had just won the election in a surprise upset. I had no idea what the political situation would hold in just one month when he officially took office. It was an uneasy time. And yet, when I logged onto Medium (which I used to do a lot more frequently), I saw the same listacles about growing your email list, writing more frequently, and building habits like Tim Ferriss.
I get that some people don’t want to think or write about politics. I get that some people view their writing as an escape. But there was this huge sense of cognitive dissonance between the very real and pressing problems of the physical world and this little online ecosystem full of lifehacks that didn’t actually matter.
So I chose significance to try to be better. Here’s what I said at the time:
“Some of the most rewarding pieces to work on in 2016 were those that fell outside the “normal Medium article,” — the one where I published embarrassing first drafts, the one where I felt betrayed by creativity, and the one where I wrote about how automation can help creatives — and funny enough, a lot of other people liked those articles too. Not the hundreds that would click on another “social media strategy” article, but enough to make it worth the effort.
In this new world, my goal is to write more “significant” articles. Articles that feel unique. Articles that will help you take more action, be more informed, and/or think about your creativity or the world in a new way.”
Using that quote as a measuring stick, I don’t know that I truly made progress towards my goal until mid-year, after I spoke with David Sherry of Death to the Stock Photo and he encouraged me to “do what feels like cake.” That conversation inspired my “three things” format, which I feel led to more unique and significant articles. It seems like “significance” was actually the byproduct of “cake,” which maybe should have been my word all along!
Looking Ahead To 2018
My word for 2018 (if I can remember it…) is “share.” But rather than leave it at that, I want to clearly define what “share” means to me:
1) I write a new article each week, but lately, I only publish it to my email list. Obviously, that limits the growth of my audience, but more importantly, it limits the growth of potential readers. I believe I have something worth sharing, otherwise I wouldn’t write so dang much. But in only sharing my message with you, I am unintentionally limiting the number of people who could benefit from my message.
2) I’ve run up against writer’s block more times than I’d like to admit. Friday will come and I won’t even know what to write about for Monday. Part of the problem is that I’m writing a blog about creativity, but my main act of creativity is writing this blog. If that’s not tautological, I don’t know what is. As Cormac McCarthy says:
“The ugly fact is books are made out of books. The novel depends for its life on the novels that have been written.”
That’s equally true of any sort of writing. Blog posts are made out of other work. If I share more about my other projects (and take on some other projects), I may find this blog easier to write and it may be more useful for you. Creativity doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
3) Related to the previous point, sharing also means finishing and releasing projects that I’ve been working on for far too long. First among those is another book about improv (newsletter exclusive right here…) called Hello My Name is Harold. It’s a straightforward, actionable guide to mastering improv’s toughest but most essential longform, the Harold. This comes after four years performing it, two coaching it, and several months teaching it to new students at my theater. Although I don’t have a firm date, I plan to release it in the summer.
If you’re interested in mastering the Harold, finding the fun in the form, and becoming an all-around better improviser, you can get on the waiting list to be the first to hear about its launch (and get first dibs on the launch-time exclusive goodies).
Now that I’ve shared my word—and made it much more specific and measurable—I’ll hopefully remember it throughout the year and continue to act on it. If not, feel free to hold me accountable.
Plus, this should help:
What about you? Did you choose a word for 2017? Do you have one picked out for 2018? I’d love to know. Reply to this email and let’s start the year together.
Each week, I write a new article helping busy people find meaning and fulfillment through sustainable creative habits. If you enjoyed this week’s letter, you can sign up to get them delivered to your inbox each week by digital carrier pigeon.