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Creators' Corner #32 - don't create, document

John Nicholas
John Nicholas
4 min read
Creators' Corner #32 - don't create, document
Photo of the week: the sun going to rest over the Atlantic Ocean. The end of another beautiful day in Africa.

Hey everyone 👋. Greetings from Cape Town!

We're up to 235 creators this week. Thanks so much for being a subscriber. Here's the previous edition of the newsletter for those of you who missed it. As always – please reach out if you have any thoughts or ideas. I would love to hear from you.


Line-up this week:

  1. New essay: don't create, document
  2. My writing lesson plan
  3. Things you might like

1. Don't create, document

I have a little secret to share:

Writing doesn't only have to be creative and original.

Instead of searching for inspiration, look at the content you’re already consuming – the books you're reading and the podcasts you're listening to. Look at the things you're already doing – your work and your habits.

These are all potential essay topics. It all counts.

In my latest essay, I want to help you go from a place where you think you lack original ideas (writer's block) to a place where you have 'too many' ideas (writing from abundance).

Don’t create, document
Before I started writing, I thought writing was reserved for the pros. Those rare geniuses who could create deep, moving prose. People who were as profound as Hemingway. Or went to great lengths for their craft like Thoreau did by locking himself up in a cabin in the woods. But

2. My writing lesson plan

In the previous edition I described how much I enjoyed teaching others about my writing process over the last month and a bit in Write of Passage.

Not only did I benefit a lot from teaching (the ultimate form of learning), I also got closer to figuring out my personal monopoly.

Two big themes came out in my lessons:

1. Drawing for Writing:

On the drawing front, I set up an interest group with Angie Wang called Creating Visuals for Writing (CV4W). What started as an experiment is up to 29 members now. If you are interested in drawing and want a place for feedback and accountability join us here.

2. Stoicism for writing:

Concepts like Negative Visualization and Storytelling Reframe have helped me form good writing habits and I hope they can serve others as well. I want to create a series of essays (or lectures), which people can refer to if they want to cultivate the mindset of a writer.

Here is a recap of my lesson plan for Write of Passage:

And here are the links to some of the concepts. I plan to finish writing about the remaining topics in the coming weeks.

  1. The spirit of the fool (or beginner's mind)
  2. The power of Anti-goals
  3. Document, don’t create (today's essay)
  4. Raising aspirations [TBC]
  5. Storytelling Reframe
  6. Increasing your Luck Surface Area
  7. Drawing from conversation - fits in the Creating Visuals for Writing bucket
  8. The Default vs. Pathless Path [TBC]
  9. 3 As over 5 Bs (an exercise in priority setting)
  10. Defining the Resistance [TBC]

Question time. Which of these topics are you most curious to learn more about?


3. Things you might like

  1. 🌐 Website: Write a letter to your future self at futureme.org. Here's an exercise I did with my writing group: open the link, write down a couple of things you'd like to achieve in 2023, schedule it for December next year and forget about it. Next year you'll receive a pleasant surprise from your past self. Make that person proud!
  2. 💡 Idea: the Ulysses pact. Also known as a Ulysses Contract or Commitment Device, it involves making a pact with your future self knowing that you might be weak in future. The idea is inspired by the story of Ulysses, a Greek hero who wanted to hear the hypnotic sounds of the Sirens' song without sailing into the cliffs. He decided to tie himself to the mast of his ship and waxed the ears of his sailors to avoid temptation. I first heard about this idea in a conversation between Tim Ferriss and Roelof Botha (famed partner at Sequoia Capital). He pasted sticky notes on his desk and in his room (little Ulysses pacts everywhere) to achieve his goals of being number 1 in his school, then top 3 at university and making his first $1bn (10^9) at Sequoia.

Have a great week and happy creating!

– John


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