Five (Part 1)



It was Monday morning.

My first day on the job. And I was completely underprepared with no idea what to write about.

I felt terrible.

That was exactly five years ago today.

What I did end up writing about has turned into a piece I return to often:

“Writing should be about standing behind your work and truly caring about what it is you have to say,” I wrote. “If you happen to be good with words then congratulations. Dispassionate beautiful prose, however, is still dispassionate. Or, as Anatole France put it, ‘a tale without love is like beef without mustard: insipid.'”

It has always been a challenge for me to write with honesty and passion.

When you put your heart into something and then get criticized for it, that hurts. And so, in a way, we shy back a bit and put just enough transparency into our writing to give it a hint of breath and no more.

To make it worse, once the economic success of this site hinged in no small part on the continued growth of a strong membership base, there was a sudden pressure to write for everyone all at once.

Not only did I feel a great expectation on my work, I had no clue what I would publish on that first day. Or what would come the next day or the next.

(I’ve learned that this is just one of the who-knows-how-many roadblocks there are to doing your best creative work. And that’s something we’ll definitely dive into more later this week because it’s so important.)

In that article from 5 years ago, I shared that though the pressures and expectations were new, I was intent on staying steady in my writing pursuits. I planned to continue doing the same writing with the same focus that had brought me the opportunity to write full-time in the first place.

Five years of that day-in-and-day-out work, here we are today. And things certainly look different.

Back then it was just me with just one website: shawnblanc.net. Now there is a small team of us and a small network of websites: shawnblanc.net, Tools & Toys, The Sweet Setup, and The Focus Course. (Hi, Bradley, Chris, Stephen, Jeff, Josh, and Isaac!)

Yes, the scope of the writing has certainly grown. But I believe the focus of the writing has not.

That focus is still two-fold:

  1. To help you, the reader.
  2. To have fun in the creative process.

If you care about doing your best creative work, you’re in the right place.

I continue to look forward to iterating, improving, and generally upping the overall awesomeness of our humble network of websites.

Perhaps you’ve been here since the very first post. Or perhaps you are brand new to this site. Thank you! I am grateful that you’ve chosen to show up, sign up, and be part of this journey.

This week and next I’m going to be sharing stories and more about the past five years. We’re going to talk about the creative side as well as the business side.

After being in this racket for 5 years, I want to share what I see as the most important things about writing on the internet for a living. How to improve your craft. How to balance work life and family life when your work life is tied to the internet that’s in your pocket.

And, the elusive question I’ve been wondering about most for the past half-decade: Is there a path to creative success?