I’ve Been Having Doubts
This week I had lunch with Oliver Burkeman. I’m a big fan of his book Four Thousand Weeks, and I wanted to get his advice on my own book-writing journey. It turned into a bit of a therapy session. 🛋️
See, for a while now I’ve had doubts about what book I want to write. For the last few months, my main concept was how can we work in a way that energises us and makes us feel alive”.
But I recently spoke to a friend who has a lot of writing experience, and he said “Shouldn’t you focus on how to get energised, quit your job, and follow your dreams? Isn’t that what your audience wants to hear?”
And I thought, damn. He might be right.
I’m the guy who quit being a doctor to be a YouTuber. Why not lean into that, and write a book about ‘Part-Time Productivity’ and quitting the nine-to-five? Wouldn’t that get more sales? But I also want my book to resonate with anyone who reads it; everyone wants to feel more energised, not everyone wants to quit their job.
This was my basic dilemma, as I went to meet Oliver at Pizza Express. And his advice was really refreshing.
Basically, he said:
- Write the book you want to write. You’ve got a big financial safety net thanks to YouTube and PTYA, so there’s no real risk involved if the book does badly. You can always write a second book.
- But also – you have a big pre-existing audience. So you’ll get decent sales anyway; stop worrying so much.
- Are you trying too hard to get inside your audience’s head? Try sticking inside your own head for a bit, and see what you discover.
- Make the writing process fun. In my experience, if you’re not enjoying yourself on some level, the book will never get written.
Talking to Oliver, I realised I’d fallen into the trap of being serious instead of sincere. I thought “this book needs to sell loads, it needs to be X, Y, Z.” I’d been second-guessing myself and piling on the pressure, instead of writing what came naturally.
My dream book review wouldn’t be “this book gave me the energy to quit my job and follow my passion”. It’d be “wow, since reading Ali’s book I’ve made loads of tweaks to my work life, and now I feel way happier and more energised”.
So I’ll stick with my original idea and write the book I want to write – not the book I think people want to read.
Have a great week!
PS Check out my Book Journey newsletter for more book updates, including research. It lands in your inbox twice a month, and you can sign up here.
PPS Incidentally, I just released a 4000 Weeks Book Club episode on my main channel 📚
🚀 Introducing Creatorpreneur
I’m super excited to announce that a new segment of my business, Creatorpreneur, is launching on Friday.
Creatorpreneur will teach creators how to scale up their side-hustles into sustainable, revenue-driving businesses. We want this to be a hub of resources for creators who see long-term potential in their creative projects.
In 2018, I was focused on making video after video, with no real plan. But years of trial and error, hundreds of business books, and hours of chatting to business coaches have taught me one crucial thing:
If you want to turn your side-hustle into a business, you have to treat it like a business.
So this Friday I’ll be launching my new flagship course, Part-Time Creatorpreneur. It’s the ideal next step for anyone who’s been running a creative side-hustle for a while, but doesn’t know how to scale it up without burning out.
There’s also a free newsletter, a brand new twitter account, and a podcast hosted by two members of my team.
If you want to stay up to date, and get a free five day email Crash Course going over the basics of what it takes to be a Creatorpreneur, sign up to the mailing list here.
♥️ My Favourite Things
📖 Shortform Summary – The Personal MBA, by Josh Kaufman. The original book is great, basically a whole MBA course crammed into 300ish pages. I used this Shortform as a reference point for my new course Part-Time Creatorpreneur.
📚 Book – How to Take Smart Notes, by Sönke Ahrens. I’m revisiting the Zettelkasten note-taking method after a year of just using Apple Notes folders + Google. Having a structured note-taking system where notes connect to each other is useful for book writing, because I consistently get compound interest on my old research.
📱 App – Roam Research. Roam is back, as my digital Zettelkasten app of choice. I’ve given access to some of the writers on my team, so it’s also a sort of shared Second Brain, where I write down ideas for scripts / courses. If you like, check out my Roam video How I Organise My Life.
📝 Article – The Romantic Scholar: A New Approach to Student Life, by Cal Newport. I really like Cal’s concept of adventure studying. Studying isn’t a chore if you make an adventure out of it, by finding a new cafe to work in, studying with friends, etc. It’s also nice to rediscover the wonder of studying cool things, instead of seeing school as a constant battle for good grades.
📚Oliver’s reading recommendations for struggling writers
- How Writers Journey to Comfort and Fluency, by Robert Boice
- Getting Things Done By Not Being Mean to Yourself, by Susan Piver
- Libido: Tracking Inner Energy, Episode 193 of This Jungian Life
- Give and Take, by Adam Grant
✍️ Quote of the Week
People don’t become superfans the moment they find you. They become superfans because of the magical moments you create for them over time.