Per a recommendation by UK doc and YouTuber Ali Abdaal, I am currently listening to writer-who-draws Austin Kleon’s quick, readable, and actionable “Steal Like An Artist” Audio Trilogy. Even though I’m currently halfway through, here are the pieces of advice that I’m already putting into practice and that you might also consider:
- Write everyday. Try to write useful things. Share lessons you’ve learned, your inspirations, and/or other tidbits from your creative journey (not what you ate for breakfast this morning). I guarantee you that there is at least one person in the world who you could help with your words. Plus, writing turns all of the clutter rattling around your head all day into a more organized arrangement, providing more clarity for you. Getting those thoughts onto paper or a screen may also help you communicate better in person, figuring out what’s important, what’s simplest, and what to leave out. Trust Oscar Wilde–brevity is the soul of wit. Just don’t overthink things because in writing, perfection can truly be the enemy of the great. If you’d like more inspiration, check out two of my favorite articles on writing from Gregory Ciotti, one on easy reading and the other on writing with substance.
- Use your name as a domain. Use a pseudonym if you have a common name. This change will help you put skin in the game. I am not active on any social medium beyond sharing blog posts here on LinkedIn, but that’s fine, as the share of players in social media has evolved over the last 10 years and will likely continue to change–but this corner of the internet is my little territory. Speaking of changes, I see several career pivots and phases in my future, including becoming a medical resident (making the domain MindfulMedStudent less accurate). Lastly, those potential career pivots are associated with a vision I have that is inspired by the thinking style of people like Elon Musk, and I am looking forward to sharing some of that vision with you in the future. They are probably best associated with my influencers and my thinking, rather than specifically mindfulness or medicine.
- Rewrite your About page. I was inspired by Kleon to revisit my about page when he recommended against using the terms “ninja”, “guru” or “rockstar” when describing yourself (I’d also add “Jedi”, “wizard”, or “entrepreneur” to that list). Previously, there was a lot of useless information, including my medical school (who cares?) and who I think this site is for (could be for anyone, medical student or not). I started from scratch, copying from the basic blurb on Abdaal’s personal site and rewriting with the approach that Simon Sinek discusses in his widely-watched TED talk: move from “why” to “how” to “what”.
- Remove advertisements. This is something unspoken that I have taken from Kleon’s writing so far. I am not sure of his opinion of ads on personal sites, and I do not judge anybody who does run them. However, I quickly reversed on my decision to run ads on this site after some reflection. Even though I think about financial security (I am very much in debt as a medical student and have blue-collar parents), the mission of this site has always been to share useful information and facilitate personal connections, not make money. That said, I agree with Kleon in that there is nothing wrong with creators selling out in order to profit from their work–I just do not think that I am there yet in terms of the usefulness of my work. If I were to commercialize my writing, the method I could see myself using is old-fashioned sale of exclusive products or services, like books, courses, our consultations. It may also be a little vein, but I also just enjoy the minimalist style of this blog, and I felt that the the ads cluttered it up. Full disclaimer, I made $2.65 during the two weeks or so when my ads were up–not paying their rent, if you ask me. Maybe if they made me $265 in two weeks, I would have kept them up–minimalist style is so 2019, after all 😛
Do you have a favorite book or recommendation on productivity or creativity? What have you been creating lately?