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The simple cure for writer’s block


People with writer’s block don’t have a problem typing. They have a problem living with bad writing, imperfect writing, writing that might expose something that they fear.

The best way to address this isn’t to wait to be perfect. Because if you wait, you’ll never get there.

The best way to deal with it is to write, and to realize that your bad writing isn’t fatal.

Like all skills, we improve with practice and with feedback.


[Mark your calendars: The Creative’s Workshop is coming back in August. Check out this page for details and to get updates.]


How will we use our gifts? What difficult choices will we make–when it might be easier to hide?

Will we waste our advantages and insulation?

Will inertia be our guide, or will we follow our passions?

Will we follow dogma, or will we leap forward and be original, generous and helpful?

Will we choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure?

Will we wilt under criticism, or will we follow our convictions?

Will we bluff it out when we’re wrong, or will we apologize?

Will we be clever at the expense of others, or will we choose to be kind?

A cynic, or a builder?

And we get to decide again every single day.


[PS please consider this session of The Podcasting Workshop. It’s open now for registration.]

How many moons?

How many moons in our solar system? With 8 or so planets, how many moons in total?

My guess, when challenged, was 22. I figured Earth had one, rounded up, etc.

It turns out that it’s more than 200. Saturn alone has more than 80 moons.

That’s a common mistake. We make it all the time. We assume that our neighborhood is like every neighborhood, that our situation and experience is universal.

That’s rarely true.

Embracing that on the path to empathy is a powerful step forward.

The stolen address book

I used to ask, “If you stole Steven Spielberg’s address book, would it help you get a movie made?”

The point was that even if you had the phone numbers and names, calling them up and saying you’d stolen them wasn’t worth very much. The data has no value without trust and connection.

Now, twenty years later, all the address books have been stolen. Everyone has all the data. Identifying the right people (or spamming everyone) is easy and cheap.

Which makes the point even more urgent than ever: Without trust and connection, access to data is worthless.

Useful explanations of reality

If we want to understand what’s going on around us, it’s helpful to be able to formulate a resilient story, one that holds up to scrutiny and allows us to make an impact.

That story shouldn’t change based on who’s in charge.

Which means that we don’t have to ask the head of the chemistry department why a reaction occurred. The theory works fine even if they’re not around.

Everybody else

It’s natural to believe that everyone else is as confident, assured, long-term thinking and generous as you are on your very best day.

But that’s unlikely. Because everyone else is probably not having their best day at the same time.

Once we realize that the world around us is filled with people who are each wrestling with what we’re wrestling with (and more), compassion is a lot easier to find.

Should schools reward skills or talent?

Talent is something you’re born with.

Skill is something you earn.

Skill comes from commitment and practice and self-discipline. The skill of earning skills is a lifelong advantage.

Without a doubt, encouraging kids to leverage their talents is a skill. And yet…

Who gets to be the center of the kids’ volleyball team–the tall kid or the one who practices the most diligently and brings the most teamwork to the game?

Who gets an ‘A’ in math–the one who can breeze through the tests or the student who asks intelligent questions and challenges the assumptions?

Who gets into a fancy college…

You get the idea.

Leaders talk about developing real skills and encouraging people to develop into their full potential, but too often, we take the short-term path of betting on raw talent instead. And of course, what looks like raw talent might not be. It could simply be our confusion about first impressions compared to the power of commitment, enrollment and persistence.

Voices vs. noise

If it’s not relevant, it’s noise. If it’s untrusted, unwelcome or selfish, it’s noise.

But your contribution isn’t noise. Not for the right people, at the right time.

The internet isn’t a mass medium. The voices online are not for everyone, it’s not the Super Bowl or M*A*S*H or even the nightly news. Nobody reaches much more than 1% of the audience on any given day.


That tiny slice that does want to hear from you, that needs to hear from you, that would miss you if you don’t speak up–for that audience, you’re not noise. You’re essential.

That’s why we built the Podcasting Workshop with Alex DiPalma. Enrollment launches today.

Not because we need more podcasts. We don’t.

Because we need your podcast.

What’s at the front of the line?

A study of behavior at breakfast buffets showed that the first item in the buffet was taken by 75% of the diners (even when the order of the items was reversed) and that two-thirds of all the food taken came from the first three items, regardless of how long the buffet is.

This means that optimizing marketers usually put the things they most want to sell first.

And that smart consumers benefit from adopting patience as they consider what’s on offer.

Of course, this game theory applies to a lot more than food.

Picky vs difficult

Picky people have consistent preferences and standards.

Difficult people change their preferences frequently, and often in response to who is presenting to them or the mood they’re in.

It’s pretty easy to figure out which makes for a better client or colleague.