🦊 Sing Your Song
#95 — A plea to publish: Share your words. In a world of information overload, we need your signal to survive the noise.
You’ve been meaning to start writing online, but you’re afraid.
You’re afraid of what people might say when they read it. You’re also afraid that no one will read it.
You worry that your work isn’t good enough. That no one gives a damn about what you think.
But the fact that you worry is precisely why your work will be genuine, interesting, and unique. Because you care, your perspectives are invaluable to the world.
And yet, you hold back. “Why bother adding to the noise?” you say.
The reason you need to put your words out there is because there is so much noise.
While you fret about how it might be received, countless others who seek to manipulate and divide are publishing with abandon. They don’t stop to think. They don’t hesitate. They pollute the discourse of our world with no thought to the long term impacts. They fill the void with noise.
We can’t always control polluters, but we can counter them with genuine, thoughtful work. We can be the trees that breathe clean air into our polluted atmosphere. We can tip the scales in favor of genuine creators.
In a world of information overload, we need your signal to survive the noise.
If you don’t do it for us, do it for yourself.
Instead of complaining that the vibe is off, change the vibe. With every word and every post, you influence the culture and fabric of the spaces you enter. Your bell rings in someone else’s ear, and in turn, their own bell echoes to their friends. As Steve Jobs once said, “Everything around you was made up by people no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it.”
So what are you waiting for?
Ah yes, the fear.
Listen. I know it’s scary to publish, especially when you’re starting out. I still get nervous hitting publish on each and every newsletter, and I’m almost at my hundredth edition.
But you don’t have to go from zero to a hundred. You can ease into it.
By controlling visibility of your work, you can mitigate the risk, as I shared in Low Stakes, Strong Takes:
Instead of dumping all of our work into the ocean of public social media, we can share it in controlled environments. We can let it swim in friendly waters. There is an entire spectrum of sharing between private and public—you might call it semi-public sharing.
To share your work semi-publicly, start by ensuring it’s accessible with a URL. You can use your own website or tools like Google Docs or Notion to host it.
Instead of posting on social media, share links to your work freely with trusted peers through text messages, emails, DMs, and so on. You’ll get private feedback without having to face the fear of public scrutiny.
When you share with a trusted group, it elevates your willingness to express what you really want to say. By controlling visibility, you unlock vulnerability.
If you have something to say, say it.
Be like the bird whose chirps rise above the blaring horns of city traffic, gifting strangers with a smile.
Sing your song.
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P.S. I shared this plea in a YouTube video a year ago, if you prefer to watch. I was happy to see that several folks took their first step into publishing afterwards. That said, if this message has you thinking, “Yes, yes, this all sounds very nice, but there’s this big thing that’s still blocking me…” Let me know what’s holding you back. I’m happy to help however I can. You can reply to this email, leave a comment below, or shoot me an email directly.
Making New Friends From Online Acquaintances — A great piece from my friend Kat Vellos on how to elevate online acquaintances into deeper friendships. In my essay Friends over Followers, I shared that one of my biggest motivations for writing online: making friends. Some of my best friends are people I met through this newsletter, Twitter, and other online mediums. But it’s not always easy to turn the connections we make online into real friendships. Kat’s post is an excellent guide on how to do just that.
(If you enjoy the post, you’ll also enjoy her book, We Should Get Together. And as you get to know new friends, if your’e looking tips on how to escape small talk, check out her 2023 Better Conversations Calendar—it offers handy alternatives to dreaded questions like, “How are you?”)
You Can Either Buy Attention or Earn It — “When you earn someone's attention by actually sharing something that's interesting, actually sharing something that they learn something from, it is a far more valuable connection that you establish rather than just plastering a bunch of ads in front of them. You can use ads too, of course, and they can work, and you can even use them in concert. But the connection you establish when you truly teach someone something, when you truly change their mind on something, or at least provoke them to think about that topic in a new way, it's just so much deeper.”
Don’t Wait for Motivation, Act for Momentum — Was wonderful to see my essay on momentum featured as this week's Favorite in the latest issue of Software Lead Weekly. SLW is one of the OG tech newsletters out there, I’ve been reading it since my early days of programming.
I’ll leave you with a doodle from my Sunday night sketch session. My favorite characters are the ones that show up out of nowhere. There I was, doodling random shapes and lines, when suddenly he appeared. He demanded to be noticed.
I call him “The bird with the golden beak.”
Always love reading your newsletter. It resonates. Hitting publish is always scary. I love sharing food so much though that I keep hitting publish on both newsletters and cooking videos. My first videos were voice-less and face-less because I didn't want to be seen or heard!
Your posts are always so encouraging and helpful 😊 I was nervous when I started my newsletter too, but I overcame that because I wanted to bring people together and provide a brief respite from all the noise. I hope that more positive writers will join substack and spread a hopeful message in the future. The world desperately needs that.