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Something I've been struggling with so far this year—even while knowing that I was going to focus more in this direction in 2023—is remaining confident while working on content projects which may not see the light of day for a while.
The lifecycle of lightning-fast communications on the internet has tended to lead us to believe we always have to be blasting some new piece of content out there or we're not “real” creators. Quantity always wins over quality. Always. Two posts are better than one. Three podcast episodes are better than too. Four vlog episodes are better than three. WE NEED MOAR CONTENT !!! 😬
At the beginning of this year, I recorded a Fresh Fusion episode which described my yearly theme and "3 words" for 2023. The theme is "The Year of Fine Art" and my 3 words are "Finesse, Inklings, Stewardship". I won't go into those last two today, but instead let's focus on my yearly theme as well as the word "finesse" because that's where the challenge begins.
Because you see, dear Reader, it's really hard for me to feel like I'm a “real” creator doing anything worthwhile when I'm spending days, weeks, even months toiling away on projects nobody else has looked at yet. If I toss off a quick toot or two on Mastodon, I get immediate feedback that people are "engaging" with my content. Same if I post a vlog episode and get some views. Same if I post a podcast episode.
But if I'm slowly plugging away on more in-depth words or visuals or code or whatever it may be that I know nobody will read, or watch, or use for some time to come, that's when I start feeling The Void.
The Void is that black pit of despair which slowly starts to creep up into your consciousness from whatever hell it's escaped from. The Void is where all your sunny cheerfulness and rosy optimism about how great your projects are and how awesome they're going to be once they're done goes to die. The Void is where you begin to lose your nerve.
"This is taking a lot of time." "I don't know if anyone's even going to care about this." "I might put a ton of work into this, and then it won't grow my audience or help my career at all." "Maybe I'm just not cut out for this." "I don't even know what I'm doing!" "LOL, imagine me thinking this was ever a good idea." "I should quit now while I'm ahead."
Here's what I've come to learn about The Void. You can't make any good decisions while you're in there. There's only one productive solution, and that is to Get Out Fast. Once you're out of The Void, you can take a calm, measured, objective approach to evaluating your goals and your schedule and your commitments, and then take appropriate steps to course correct (if at all).
For example, just the other day I was taking a walk and in pretty good spirits, and I started thinking about how overwhelmed I had felt recently and how "behind" I was on some tasks, and I asked myself: "OK, so maybe you have too much on your plate. Time for a check in. What do you need to drop?"
And without much hesitation whatsoever, I answered my own question with a resounding "Nothing!" 😆
Yes, I have a lot going on right now. Yes, I could get more done on Projects A, B, and C sooner if I were to drop Projects D, E, and F. Yes, my multipotentialite nature sometimes gets the better of me. But you know what? I am supremely excited about everything I am actively working on right now. And I don't want to drop any of it. So to hell with you, Void. I will keep plugging away at the projects I deem worthy, and sure, some stuff may not see the light of day for a while yet. But that's fine. Eventually, it'll be ready. And I'll put it out there. And then I will bask in the glow of my accomplishments—regardless if anyone else ever cares. Because—cliché alert—what truly matters in the end is the journey I took to get there, not the destination itself.
Around the Fediverse
The rise of Bluesky, a rival social network (presumably) to both Mastodon and Twitter, has gotten a lot of tongues wagging, and I recorded an episode of Fresh Fusion all about my thoughts on the matter as well as referencing my past reporting on the topic (the Bluesky initiative was originally announced in December 2019, believe it or not).
And in other news…I now run a Flipboard "magazine" (really just a simple yet visually attractive link blog) called Happy Cities. I recently tooted about it and have been having a lot of fun working on it. While I do own a car, I intentionally live on the outskirts of downtown Portland, Oregon so I can easily walk or take public transit or use a micromobility vehicle (such as my beloved e-scooter) to go places, run errands, and get exercise. I think all mid-sized-and-up cities in America could dramatically decrease the number of cars on their streets and build new pedestrian and bike-friendly paths and gathering places for better health, safer communities, and stronger local businesses. Portland is often heralded as a mecca for transit-oriented development in the U.S., yet it still lags far behind what is happening in many European cities and beyond. We can do better. And we will.
Happy Spring y'all! Let me know what you thought of this newsletter! Talk to you soon -J ✌️