Out of all the thumbnails I’ve used for videos, this is my favourite. (Source)
I started making videos on YouTube because it was something I’d never done. As you might expect though, I sucked at it. I mumbled and stuttered and lost my train of thoughts, and just had all sorts of a nasty time trying to speak to a camera lens. But it didn’t make sense.
Why can’t I talk to a camera lens?
Looking back, it seems silly that I feared it like I did. But that’s not because the fear is silly. It’s because I thought that maybe, just maybe, it’s not something that could be learned. Maybe this was the exception. A skill that you had to be born with. You can talk to a camera, or you can’t, I thought. There is no middle-ground. There is always a middle-ground though. It just took some persistence (and a couple of simple tactics in the short-term) to find it.
Last Night in Japan, 2011.
I’m a fan of self-analysis. It can be limiting to associate yourself with various definitions based around collections of data, but you will at least come away with an understanding of how other people might perceive you. With this in mind, there’s three tests in particular that I’m a fan of.
This picture is not relevant.
When talking about a craft such as writing, a lot of people suggest they were born to do it. As in, they were born to be a writer. Or born to be a musician. Or born to be a whatever. But the truth is much plainer: we’re not born to be anything.
I would never criticise the belief itself, since it is nice to feel as if the entire universe has taken so much care to blend our passions with our reality. When you discover what you want to do, it can even be a coping mechanism to deal with the difficulties of doing something you love. But there are side-effects when you take pride in this apparent reason for your existence.
Despite the silly title for this post, the seemingly-simplistic idea conveyed through the above flowchart is really the “super-secret method for everything being incredibly amazing forever”. Because, while it’s not literally a secret, people (including myself) forget that unhappiness is a feeling influenced by our circumstances, and those circumstances can always be changed.
NaNoWriMo is a fantastic time of the year where tens of thousands of people come together and write 50,000 words in a single month. It’s an excellent way to get people writing, but a lot people never make it to the end. Tragic, right? But as someone who succeeded on their first attempt, I thought I’d share some tips to get you through it.
I read a lot of books at a young age and attempted to write a novel at the age of eleven, but outside of homework assignments at school, never put a lot of words on paper until October 1st, 2010, which marked the start of that year’s NaNoWriMo.
For those who might not be aware, NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month — is a time where thousands of people on the internet commit to writing 50,000 words of fiction over the course of thirty days. The idea is that you switch off your inner-critic and finally get around to writing that novel everyone says they have in them.
Without a doubt, my involvement in NaNoWriMo changed a lot for me. Just a few months after completing it, I started writing on a regular basis, knocking out a minimum of 1500 words per day (and I’ve maintained this for nearly a year and a half without missing a single day), and this has resulted in writing five, complete first drafts. Those drafts aren’t masterpieces, for sure, but I’ve made vast improvements to my writing in that time, and I owe that all to NaNoWriMo.
In the words of Steve Jobs:
When you’re young, you look at television and think, There’s a conspiracy. The networks have conspired to dumb us down. But when you get a little older, you realize that’s not true. The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That’s a far more depressing thought. Conspiracy is optimistic! You can shoot the bastards! We can have a revolution! But the networks are really in business to give people what they want. It’s the truth.
This is what I failed to communicate when I said “there’s no big media conspiracy” in Don’t Trust The Media. You can find exceptions, of course, but the media is more often a product of society, rather than the other way around. But while it’s kind of depressing, it’s also freeing.
Because there’s no need to worry about the media. Just be concerned with not fitting the mould of what the media wants for an audience. Problem solved.