Creators' Corner #11 - the power of community, imitate then innovate, giving feedback and running for good

Creators' Corner #11 - the power of community, imitate then innovate, giving feedback and running for good
Running for good. Our running team is taking part in the Wings for Life charity race in two weeks. Donation details below. Photo credit: Mischa Duschl and Munich Running Society.

Hey everyone 👋. Four new people join us this week bringing the total up to 112 subscribers. Thanks so much  for being an early subscriber. If you enjoy the newsletter, please forward it on. If you have 10 seconds to share a comment or idea, please hit reply.

Line-up this week:

  1. Community: moving from lone wolf to contributor
  2. Imitation: the good and the bad
  3. Creator in the spotlight: Michael Dean
  4. Quote of the week

1. Community

I used to be a lone wolf.

I trained alone and worked alone. I got burned too often in group projects at school, which scarred me for life.

I'm happy to admit this was a limiting belief. Over the last year I've experienced the benefits of having a strong community. The power of having friends and accountability partners on my journey. Now I actively seek out a running buddy or writing buddy.

As the saying goes:

"If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go together."

Communities I'm proud to be a part of:

  • Two running clubs. Mondays (sprints) and Saturdays (long runs).
  • Writing feedback group that meets twice a week to share feedback.
  • Twitter feedback group where we give each other notes before publishing threads.
  • My email community. You guys are incredible. Thanks for constantly sending me encouragement. I also appreciate the tips to improve and the stream of questions which I can answer through writing.

Another limiting belief I used to have was to 'never volunteer' or 'keen eagles get shot down first'.

While this might work well if you want to protect your time, it's exactly the opposite of the principle of "give-give-give-ask". The internet is a positive-sum game. You need to give to build credibility.  Instead of leaning on others to set up community events, I am taking the reins myself now by organizing calendars and running Zoom calls.

2. Imitation: the good and the bad

This week I experienced the worst and then the best of being imitated online.

The bad

A month ago, I published a post about my life as an expat in Germany on LinkedIn. It did better than I ever expected reaching over 39,000 views.

Earlier this week, I found out an imitator had copy-pasted my post under their own name, lifting large pieces of text and only changing minor details like locations.

This is the first time something like this has happened to me. I realize imitation is the highest form of flattery, but it still bothered me. I didn't know whether to call the person out or let it slide. The main downside was that it took up a lot of my head space, distracting me from doing actual writing and work.

I decided to call out the imitator. Nothing is truly original. Everything is a remix of something else, but at least link back to your source of inspiration and don't plagiarise others' work. It ended well - they admitted their mistake and credited me.

Thanks to Paul-Joffré Esterhuizen for picking up the plagiarised post.

The good

In an example of imitation done the right way, a course mate from Write of Passage found inspiration from my essay on strategies to make the most of the course and used it to create their own guide.

Leo completely innovated on my approach and shared his own unique perspective: An Introvert's guide to WOP. Plus he credited my piece as his source of inspiration. Living the "imitate, then innovate" motto.

3. Creator in the spotlight

Michael Dean is the creator in the spotlight this week.

Michael is an architect turned writer. He is the Director of Content at Write of Passage. He also runs the Writing Studio, a programme where he works with promising writers to produce one high-quality essay over a month of intense feedback and iteration.

In addition, Michael runs a daily writing feedback gym. He reviewed over 500 essays in 2021. Last week he shared a compilation of the best tips on giving feedback:

Highlights from the thread:

  • Voice. "Playfulness is often the gap between your real-life personality and your voice on the page."
  • Changing mediums. "Write on your computer. Edit on your phone. When you scroll through your own essay with your thumb, it makes you feel like a reader."
  • Keeping the reader hooked. "Look in between your Google comments. Do you have a streak of paragraphs that have no comments? This might be a dry-patch / dopamine-drought. If you have large areas with no comments showing interest or surprise, you should consider re-writing, compressing, or removing."

Following Michael's writing here:

4. Quote of the week

“I shall pass this way but once; any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” - Dale Carnegie

Extra: Running for charity

I've entered the Wings for Life World Run with my running group in Munich. The concept is simple:

You run with thousands of people around the world at the exact same time. You run as far as you can until the Catcher Car passes you. And you'll be doing all that running not only for yourself but for a good cause.

My team and I plan to do at least 30km. We will need to maintain an average pace of 4:52 min / km to hit this target.

Link to donate below.

Hooray! I’m running in the Wings for Life World Run 2022!
What are YOU doing on May 8, 2022?

All proceeds go to spinal cord research and will help to find a cure for spinal cord injury.

Have a great week and happy creating.

-- John


About this newsletter: You are receiving this email because you subscribed to

If you are a new or recent subscriber, I'd love to know which country you are signing in from and where you heard about me. It's always great to meet new subs.