Making it Matter—P5

6 steps to creating something that matters: Be patient: Rome wasn't built in a day. In elementary school, you are given a project that may seem daunting, but you complete it by the next day. In actuality, it was fast, easy, and, even though you probably stressed about it a lot, it's likely it didn't take very long. Real life projects are not like that. Writing something worth reading takes a long time; even if you do the initial draft very quickly, refining something into a product (or a book, or a song, etc.) that's worth the consumer value takes time.

It's hard not to rush ahead and finish, and call a sloppy version complete because you're sick of it and you want to be done. But in the long run, it will be worth it. The better you make your work, the longer it will last. And when you're old and it's old, the more you'll appreciate having taken the time to make it good.

If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well. Even if it takes what feels like forever.

Making it Matter—P3

6 steps to creating something that matters: Create for yourself: When something matter deeply, it's hard not to talk about. The artists that make a difference (the ones who create things that last) do their best because they care. They write the song, but don't produce it until they've rewritten and sung it over and over and over, to catch the tones, the pitch, the melodies and harmonies, to perfect the riffs and all the minute details that make a good song great.

At the end of the day, the first (and really only) person who needs to like your piece is you. If you're creating for meaning (not to get rich quick), you are the one who makes the decisions, who puts the finishing touches on it, who creates it as the master (even if you want to get rich quick, this is recommended). If you don't like it, even if the entire world does, you'll have the nagging voice in the back of your heart telling you it could have been better.

Writing is used for all kinds of things; catharsis, communication, and entertainment are the big three. Writing for catharsis is almost entirely for self. Writing for communication is two-fold, both for your good and for others, and writing for entertainment is mostly for the audience. When you're writing for catharsis, you're not thinking about the reader—in many cases, it's likely it won't be read by anyone besides yourself.

What if all of the writing we did was catharsis style: honest, open, genuine. Rather than trying to be something or impress someone, it is just simple communication of ideas that mean something to you. Then, if your life work fell into the ocean tomorrow and all the ink washed off, though it would be a terrible pain and travesty, you would still have written. And that is the goal (also, be sure to back up or copy your writing, just in case of force majeure).

*Note: This would seem to disagree with the previous point about writing to your audience, but it's really just capturing two different stages; write for yourself first and foremost, always. But, after you've established writing something that's your passion, then consider who you're writing to, so that they can also benefit from your work.


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.


Making it Matter—P1

6 steps to creating something that matters: Create by passion: If you are passionate about what you're making, it will matter. If you're passionate about coffee, become a specialist and learn to create the best cup of coffee you can. If you're passionate about carpentry, practice, tirelessly and endlessly until your reputation precedes you and people can't stop talking about your work. If business is your passion, never stop researching, learning, innovating, growing. Often it isn't the passion alone that brings the meaning—it's the repeated practicing, learning, and growth, over and over and over again.

What's even better is, that if something is your passion, you don't lose it. Don't confuse losing it with the burn outs, dry outs, and disillusionment that come with creativity. Low spells happen to everyone; without them, we'd have no fuel. In the dark times, in the low times, in the hard times, keep track of them—how you feel, what you see, what it's like.

Then, when you wake up one morning and the passion has woken up too, create with the hard times in mind. The depth of feeling and emotion is what gives art the extra fuel, what brings it from good to great. And your passion is what makes it matter; first to you, then to others.