Document, don’t create

Afterthoughts: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

Conformity is a natural phenomenon

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This is a piece of advice that argues we should focus on documenting our process over creating our art. Popularised by Gary Vaynerchuk and directed at anyone wanting to make sustainable a passion and hobby, I found it game-changing. [[Ideas require a critical mass before we are willing to take action on it]] – it took me about five years for me to act on this idea.

The premise goes that creating something – video, course, writing – takes time, but documentation can start immediately. I know someone who dabbled in calligraphy, and it became their hobby. Soon after they started an Instagram page dedicated to showcasing their work. I admired the consistency they had with posting their work online, and after some time, a little following grew. Somehow a local company noticed and they were able to get some work as a calligrapher. This all happened within the space of a year, and in hindsight, I find it remarkable. It might have been just a hobby for the person, but it was first-hand evidence for me that this mantra really works.

I realise in hindsight that many University-centric YouTubers that closely adhered to this mantra. Ali Abdaal was the only one that I followed with any sort of regularity. Here was a guy who started off documenting his experiences as a medical student. On the face of it, there is nothing remarkable about that. But now I appreciate that the remarkable-quality that I overlooked is that he had the audacity to film it in the first place. Audacity is probably an inappropriate word, not many people would have the courage to film themselves IN lectures and gave a fairly faithful account of the medical student experience. He was essentially documenting and not necessarily creating.

His channel has evolved since, but it has not deviated from this core idea of documentation. Documentation involves education as well now and he has diversified his platforms. He uses his newsletter to document some of his favourite ideas by highlighting article’s he has read, video’s he has watched, or podcast’s he has listened too. He started his own podcast where he discusses ideas he finds interesting with his brother. By their own admission, they are conversations that they would otherwise have, they are now just making an effort to document and share it with the world. The content on his YouTube channel nowadays are basically his opinions on books, ideas, and products – packaged and sold as educational content. These are opinions and perspectives he would have otherwise, but now he has made it sustainable thanks to his audience.

I can appreciate now why Gary Vaynerchuk blew up amongst millennials this past decade. The promise and the dream of making your hobby or passion a full-time gig does sound appealing. I suppose the reason I hadn’t bought into it is because it seemed too good to be true. Now that I have spent time away from the grind, this mantra hits different.

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