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Creators’ Corner #1 - my favourite books, how to be Superman and an ode to David Whyte

John Nicholas
John Nicholas
5 min read
Creators’ Corner #1 - my favourite books, how to be Superman and an ode to David Whyte
The creator's journey via visual storyteller Janis Ozolins

Hello everyone! Greetings from a sunny Cape Town.

Welcome to my first digital postcard. I'm calling it Creators’ Corner. Think Speakers’ Corner, but for the creator economy. A place to showcase my creations and the work of creators I admire.

The postcard kicks off with 57 subscribers! Thanks to everyone who has signed up so far.

We have a bumper line-up for the first edition:

  • The thinking behind the postcard.
  • One creation from me.
  • Two things I read.
  • Three creators making waves out there.

The thinking behind the postcard

My reasons, in a nutshell:

  • Versatility. A newsletter gives me the option to share different material in addition to long-form writing: atomic essays, Twitter threads and the occasional drawing. I still love writing the longer pieces and I will email them out on an ad hoc basis.
  • Showcase. I admire creators and people building their own thing. I want to display their work. Down the line I would like to add interviews and profile pieces and explore how people create side hustles. I am also interested in the psychology behind creation and why the creator economy is so relevant right now.
  • Journey. I want to share my journey. My wins, the challenges I’m dealing with, the things I’m reading and listening to each week. This is my attempt at building and learning in public.

In order to get to this point, I ran an experiment called 'The Weekly Wrap'. The idea was to create a weekly Twitter thread that could serve as a ‘minimum viable product’ newsletter.

I wanted to prove three things to myself:

  1. Could I stick to a weekly cadence, curating and creating content? Did I have enough material to share?
  2. Could I create a newsletter in less than an hour? I enjoy writing the longer-form essays, but I take notoriously long to complete them. I feared I might approach a newsletter in the same way.
  3. Could I keep it quick, fast and light? I am writing for a digital audience. I am competing with TikTok videos and viral tweets. Influencers in the wild and cats jumping off fridges. It needs to be easy to consume.

I spent the last five weeks sending out the Weekly Wrap, iterating on the format, condensing the length and chatting to other newsletter writers to learn from their approach. I believe I can take things to the next level now. I have enough material and I know I can send out the postcard most weeks, give and take holidays and work commitments.

The final nudge came from my writing buddy Tommy Lee.

Thanks for your encouragement Tommy! You are completely right. This could serve a larger audience via email.


1. One creation from me

I published an atomic essay capturing my 10 top fiction and non-fiction books.

I posted my list on Twitter and received great feedback and some more book recommendations:

  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Thanks Catalina.
  • The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson. Thanks Ricus.
  • Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson and The Evolution of Everything by Matt Ridley. Thanks Rahul.
  • The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant. Thanks Rob.

I am interested to hear your thoughts... which books are in your top 10? Are there any books you would recommend?


2. Two things I read

Article of the week 📄

I’m taking Michael Ashcroft's Fundamentals of Alexander Technique course. Super slowly admittedly, but I'm really enjoying bedding down the ideas.

As Michael describes it in this intro article, Alexander Technique is about being without trying.

How to be Superman
This video of Christopher Reeve transforming from Clark Kent into Superman is the best illustration of Alexander Technique I’ve seen. You can see him playing with his own awareness.
"When you stop doing the wrong thing, the right thing does itself. Don’t try to think. Instead, learn to stop doing the things that get in the way of thinking and just let thinking happen by itself."

This reminds me of being in flow while working or being in the zone in sport. There are no distractions, your thoughts are singular and focused.

If anything, click through to the article for the 1-minute video of Christopher Reeve playing Superman.

Thought of the week 💭

The importance of being happy on your own via the 3-2-1 Thursday newsletter by James Clear:

"Many of us seek community solely to escape the fear of being alone. Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape." - Bell Hooks

3. Creators spotlight

Sketch of the week 🎨

Tommy Lee posted a sketch on the power of meaningful engagement. Tommy is brilliant at visual storytelling. I expect his account to blow up soon!

Long-form essay of the week ✍️

Catalina Muñoz posted a beautiful, courageous essay on dealing with feelings of shame.

Atomic essay of the week 📝

Michael Dean wrote a great piece imitating poet and philosopher David Whyte’s style and rhythm. It could have been written by Whyte himself.

Have a great week and all the best with your creative pursuits!


Notes:

About this newsletter: You are receiving this email because you subscribed to johnnicholas.org. Occasionally, I send out longer content on the creator economy and life lessons, amongst other topics.

Thanks to Tommy Lee, Michael Sklar, Tobi Emonts-Holley, Nic Rosslee, Melissa Menke and Jess Schanz for the conversations and inputs on this newsletter.

Please reply to this email if you have a few minutes to spare. Any comments are welcome! Something like: "Hey, I got it!” or “Here are some more books to add to the list.” or "Please write more about x, y, z." Replies train the email account it's not spam and feedback keeps me going.

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John Nicholas Twitter

Actuary and creator.

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