Going Home

The latest Spiderman movie is called “No Way Home.” It’s a movie about being lost geographically, sure, but, more importantly, it’s a stark reminder that the past is – and forever will be – gone.

When I started writing, I set the goal of typing 250 words a day on this very blog. I tracked my progress feverishly using various apps. For the most part, I had so much fun that it was easy, often exceeding my goal, and soon, I managed to build a streak that lasted seven months.

In 2016, I wanted to write as much but ship more. That’s how Four Minute Books was born. I had to fill in a few gaps here and there, but eventually, I managed to post 365 times that year.

In 2017, I took my daily writing habit to Quora, where I answered at least one question every day for nine months.

Next, I turned my attention to Medium, working on longer articles daily and posting a few times each week. That lasted for three years.

Another 18 months later, I still write almost daily, but since choosing to prioritize books, I can’t help but feel a little lost. I’ve been on a seven-year-trip around the world of writing platforms, and it’s time for me to go home.

Calling 20 years of daily blogging one of the “top five career decisions” he’s ever made, Seth Godin’s biggest surprise on day 5,000 (year 14!) was…”that more people aren’t doing this.” To everyone “hoping to shape opinions or spread ideas,” Seth says: “Don’t do it because it’s your job, do it because you can.”

“You don’t win an Olympic gold medal with a few weeks of intensive training.” Seth has known that since day 1,500. “Every great company, every great brand, and every great career has been built in exactly the same way: bit by bit, step by step, little by little. If every element of an organization gets a little better every day, then that organization will become unstoppable.”

For one, shipping every day will inevitably cure your writer’s (or creator’s) block, a phenomenon Seth called “a myth, a recent invention, a cultural malady” on day 6,000. The intention behind each creation matters, but even more so “that you show up. The act of doing it every day.” The point of the practice is not for some number to go up – it is to, over time, make something remarkable.

“Where are you being generous – completely selfless and generous – so that an organization or person you care about has changed for the better?” That is Seth’s yardstick.

“What is it for?” That’s the question that lets us beat the Resistance. It’ll have selfish elements. Personally, I simply don’t know how to express myself any better than I can do in writing. It’s text that wants to come out, not dances or speeches or graphic designs. I also believe it is easier to buy a book from someone you “talk to” every day (or at least engage with on occasion) than from someone who shows up at your door once a year with a new thing to sell. But there’s also the connection.

I want you to smile when you look in the mirror. I want you to give yourself a break when you need it. I want to help you see the world differently, walk down the street like you own the block, and always go to bed thinking tomorrow can be a good day.

I don’t think that’s something I can do daily – but if I don’t try to do it daily, it might not happen at all.

Besides, for a writer, what could feel more like home than a daily blog?

“We now live in this world where you don’t need to be picked,” Seth says. There’s a difference, however, between not needing to be picked and choosing you don’t want to be. Seth has quit book publishing more than once, and he’s on record calling bestseller lists a scam. Why? “[It] frees me up to do what I want to do, what I need to do – not get hung up on seeing the world the way it used to be.”

The blog is just another way of picking himself:

“I don’t need anyone’s permission. I don’t need to go out and promote it. I don’t use any analytics. I don’t have comments. It’s just: ‘This is what I noticed today, and I thought I’d share it with you.'” The secret is that there’s no secret; the tradeoff that you can’t say it all in one go.

The truth is the internet changed the game forever, but most of what came after has eventually become – or will soon be – “the way it used to be.” Social media, platforms, aggregators: intermediaries, rent-seekers, expropriators. We can chase the attention wave as it washes over ever more beaches, breaking into ever smaller ripples, or we can sit content on our patch of rocks, weaving ideas, hoping to earn some attention from our craft.

Home is where the heart is, and for our heart to be fully in it, it must be something we fully own. That, too, requires refusing to be picked.

Addressing millions of listeners on Tim Ferriss’ podcast, Seth says:

“Everyone who can hear this has more power than they think they do. The question is, what are you going to do with that power?”

And then, as if he’d known that six years later to the day, some guy would write about his latest cinema visit, he added: “Because it comes with responsibility, right out of Spiderman, but that responsibility is you’re going to make change happen or you’re going to ignore it.”

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

It is in this line that everyone in Spiderman finds their way home. My power is to notice. To feel. To imagine. To venture into another world using the vessel of my mind, return from it with new materials, and mesh it all into something brand new.

Stories are my power. Sharing them my responsibility. This blog is my home. It is where I’ll try my best to exercise my power responsibly each day.

I am here. I am home. Thank you for visiting. Tomorrow, the world will not be the same, but I hope you’ll come back anyway – for there’s always another lesson to learn from Spiderman, another story to tell.

Let us choose a life of stories. Welcome home.