I have a whole book written that you'll probably never see. A third of a novel that I'll finish by the end of the year, but may never publish. Pages of rap lyrics I've written. Over fifty finished blog posts that will never see the light of day. Forty videos of me talking to the camera about the kind of stuff I write about it. Hours of travel footage from cool places like Iceland.
All that work, is, in a sense, thrown away. Some of it just never came together properly (like the Iceland footage), but a lot of it is quite good. Some of that stuff I created KNOWING that it would be thrown away, like the forty videos. Every night I make another one. I used to just delete them, but now I save them on a hard drive so that I'll have a record of my thoughts.
Why do I create work just to throw it away? Well, it's a hack. The more work I do, the more positive outliers I'll have. Let's say that I'm a slightly above average writer. In a week, I'll write seven posts. If I were to rate them on a scale from 1 to 10, I'd say that the distribution looks like this: 3 5 5 7 7 8 9. The average of those is 6.5, which sounds about right to me. So if I were to sit down twice a week, write a post and publish it, maybe I'd average a 7 (because probably if I wrote a 3 I would either skip the week or write something else). However, by writing seven posts a week, my published average goes up to an 8.5, because I only publish the 8 and 9.
Besides the simple mathematical bump in quality, I can also take bigger risks. I now have a huge backlog of 8+ posts, so I feel no pressure to write something good. That lets me occasionally take a shot at something amazing, one of those posts that willl either be a three or a ten, depending on how well I can capture the idea and put it on paper. The sheer volume of writing I'm doing teaches me and makes me a better writer, as does shooting for these tough-to-write posts.
I'll never be able to move my average writing to much higher than an eight, but I think that if I continue to improve, I can increase my published articles to an average of 9.5. Even if I didn't get any better, I've noticed that I'm averaging probably around 2.5 8+ articles per week, so eventually I'll stockpile so many that I can just publish the 9+ articles. So, actually, by throwing away work, I'm massively increasing the perceived quality of my output. This is really powerful.
As for the videos, I figure that I'll make about sixty of them before I show anyone any of them. Then I'm going to go around San Francisco, so that I have nice backdrops, and rerecord videos on some of the topics that I most liked talking about. Then when I travel to other countries I'm going to record a video every day about new topics. Eventually I'll start posting one or two of those a week. Even though I'm not good at making these video blogs, I'll still be able to start out at a 7+ average quality, and eventually move it up to 9+. Just by throwing away work.
Throwing away work like this really makes you feel amazing. As soon as I started throwing away work I could feel the velocity of my improvement speed up, and now I feel like I'm working with jet fuel. Slowly increasing quality of work, much faster learning, much better results for my readers. It's a beautiful thing.
Photo is a weird Picasso sculpture. Not saying he should have thrown it away... but not saying it's a Picasso 9+, either.
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