Making it Matter—P6

6 Steps to creating something that matters: Find other people who care about the same things, and work with them: 

Nothing fuels synergy like a common passion. Working with someone who loves the same thing as you not only gives energy, but also fuels creativity. There are twice as many ideas, twice as much excitement, twice the brain power to catch errors and mistakes. Usually the creator has blind spots—working on something long and hard takes concentration and effort, and by the time you've completed a project, you've made it as perfect as you can. Someone else who comes along can spot a problem from a mile away, and if you're humble and willing to accept correction, they can help brainstorm a solution.

Sometimes it's hard to work with people who are just like you; they might remind you of yourself, and it's not always pleasant to be confronted with all of your qualities (both positive and negative) mirrored in another. But the extra vantage point and different maturity levels are indispensable. You may feel like you're alone in your passion—but you'd be surprised how many people care about the same things, if you just look for them.

There are several benefits to creating together. We can create more, faster. We don't burn out from isolation. We think of different ideas, bigger ideas, ideas that one person can't do alone but two can do together.

Create together. Though it may be scary, it's worth it.

Making it Matter—P2

6 steps to creating something that matters: Look at who you're creating for: Teaching a five year old how to drive a car is ludicrous. He doesn't need to know that yet—it doesn't matter to him. You'd be better off teaching him how to ride a bike, or showing him how to tie his shoes. The same goes for creating: if you're going to bake cakes, don't feed them to someone on a low carb diet. If you're going to write music, don't play it for someone sworn to live in silence.

If you're writing to writers, use words and concepts they'll understand. If you're writing to engineers, tailor your language to them. In order to keep your audience, you have to care about them. You have to listen to them. You need to talk to them and know what they want and know what they're watching and listening to and reading, because then you can make what will interest them.

If your audience knows you care about them, they'll care about you.


Write to Your Audience

Language is given meaning by context. We've all heard that before, it was a drilled and repeated point in high school english, college writing, and every linguist will have an opinion about it. You will likely understand the people who you spend the most time with.  Another aspect of this is situational. If it's your birthday, and someone says, "Haps," to you, it means the same thing as if someone said, "Happy Birthday" to you. But if it's three months after your birthday and you fell into the water at duck pond because you tripped over a tree root, and someone says, "Haps," to you, it most certainly won't mean happy birthday. This is why it's important to write to your audience. Obviously, if you're writing a book, you need to understand the individuals you want to reach. The same goes for other publications. Blogging, advertising, newspaper articles; if you're writing to baristas, use their lingo. To talk about horses to a rancher, don't call then all ponies (unless he breeds ponies, then call away).

Use words your audience will understand—but in order to do that, you have to know you audience beyond just 'intended target audience.' You have to meet people who read those books, who watch those movies. You have to go to coffee shops and talk to baristas; and cattle ranches and meet people who work with horses, who understand them and breed them and who can tell you all about them.

If you can communicate with your audience on their level, your work will actually mean something to them. And, after all, creating something that has meaning is what we're all aiming for.

Persistance in Writing

When college teaches you how to write an essay, you learn this structure: #) Tell them what you're going to tell them.

#) Tell them.

#) Tell them what you told them.

Or, simply stated, say your point three times to really drive it home. Don't be afraid to be persistent; that's when people remember what you said.

Don't be afraid to say it again. It makes it memorable.

Repeat your main point. It will be annoyingly unforgettable.

Worth Saying Well

"It’s a unique way to process transactions between riders and drivers." This is an eleven word sentence that has absolutely no clear meaning. It could be referring to a "fee of a handshake" that might be imposed on the city buses. Or a new payment system in taxis that enables you to pay with something besides commonly accepted currency—like a five gallon can of gasoline, or a gift card. Maybe it's referring to a dated method of transportation (like horse-drawn carriages) coming back into vogue.

Because there is no defining language, it's almost impossible to judge what the sentence means. If you're going to write stand alone sentences, try to make them crystal clear—not clear as mud. It only takes a word or two more, and sometimes it even cuts the word count:

"Shaking hands to pay for city busses makes riders trust drivers more." (12 words)

"Taxi drivers love the new 'pay with a gallon' method of payment; full gas cans and gift cards accepted." (19 words)

"Horse and buggy travel is more relational than public transportation." (10 words)

It's not a burden to make your language clear and easy to understand; it just takes a little more thought and intentionality. If you're reading something that makes no sense, and has minimal explanation, two tricks to figure it out:

#) Look at the context. Even if a sentence seems to be derailed from any contextual meaning, at least it will give you some clue about what the author is talking about in general.

#) Ask for explanation. Perhaps you're lucky enough to have a communicating relationship with the author; if not, ask other people. Sometimes a second or third pair of eyes can see what the first might have missed.

It's not hard to avoid this by writing clearly. If it's worth saying, it's worth saying well.