Writing resilience, Feedback Gym and personal monopolies
Creators' Corner #7
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Short line-up this week:
Thought of the week
1. Thought of the week
John Edgar Wideman on writing as a way of becoming anti-fragile:
“Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up. But the writing is a way of not allowing those things to destroy you.”
2. Feedback Gym
I hosted my first Feedback Gym for the international Write of Passage (WOP) community last week (pictured above). The community is truly global. Most students are based in America, but we also have course mates from India, Japan, The Netherlands, Belgium, Ghana, Scotland, England, Australia and Taiwan. 300 students from 35 countries in total.
As a returning student, it's been great to send the elevator back down and share the knowledge I've gained over the last six months of writing and publishing.
The premise of the Feedback Gym is simple. A group of fellow students come together to share feedback on each other's essay drafts in 1:1 breakout rooms. As I wrote about before in this article, feedback is an important input in the writing process. Not only does it help the person whose piece you are reviewing, giving feedback also improves your writing.
Here are some observations from the team that attended the Feedback Gym:
Other people are much better at picking up our blind spots. They are one step removed and can sense missing context.
By explaining your essay to someone else they can often point out your shiny dime (or the essence of the piece). It
Putting your piece up for review can be helluva scary!
The last point is important. Asking for feedback makes us vulnerable. The reviewers mean no harm, but a bunch of comments are a gut punch after you have poured a lot of energy into an essay. While we should be open to receiving feedback, we shouldn’t let it dishearten us.
I like writer Morgan Housel's view on this. He says you are writing for an audience of one. You can’t please everybody. You need to be happy with your writing first and foremost. If someone else likes it, that's a bonus.
3. Personal monopolies
One of my goals this year is to figure out my personal monopoly.
Lucky for me, Michael Sklar, one of the Write of Passage mentors, is focusing on exactly this.
Here is the exercise he ran during his mentor session last week:
Sit down and think about the topics you can teach others without additional research. The things you can do in your sleep. The things you have 10,000 or 1,000 hours experience in.
In an effort to hold myself accountable and learn in public, here's the list of topics I came up with (might be easier to view on your browser):
10,000 Hours of experience
How to manage people
How to do VBA coding
How to price an insurance or rewards product
How to do an interview
Financial needs analysis
How to think about investment products and fees
How to study for/ pass an actuarial science exam
Public speaking / debating
How to braai (BBQ for my non-South African friends)
Which good fiction books to read
1,000 Hours of experience
How to build a website
How to write an essay
How to write a Twitter thread
How to run a sub 40min 10km
How to coordinate 80 people to attend a major sports match
How to tell an effective story
I'm curious. Which topics resonate with you? Which topics would you like to learn more about? The braai guide is on its way ;).
That's a wrap! Have a great weekend and happy creating.
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