A thing every day

Show up.

That’s the most important thing. Or so says a bunch of successful people^.

Why is it important to show up every day to create something using the skills and knowledge you have? Why can’t we just be write and publish when we are inspired, create and launch a game when we get an epiphany, or shoot and edit and publish a vlog only when it’s a day packed full of interesting activities?

I’m not sure, so I’ll venture a guess. It has to do with the law of big numbers.

I may be butchering the law, but what I think it means is,

“With a large enough number of experiments, the results will converge on the real value.”

The example I found from Googling is the coin flip. If someone pointed a gun to your head and forced you to flip a coin 1,000 times and to record every outcome, the number of heads and tails should be roughly 50:50. If instead the number of flips is 10 or even 100, that ratio might appear skewed towards heads or tails, even though logic tells us that each flip is independent from the previous flip.

Likewise, if someone held a gun to your head to make you work on your craft–be it designing video games, writing an article or computer programme or shooting a video–every day, and you recorded the number of games/articles/videos/drawings/etc that are well received, the real value of your work will begin to reveal itself.

Publish 10 articles and people might catch on to none, and you might feel like you’re not helping anyone with your writing and falsely conclude that you’re a terrible writer and should stop wasting your time.

Publish 100 articles and 5 might have at least some form of recognition among a small group of people. Do 365 and you might just find 30 of them to be generally well received.

The point is, you won’t know what the real value of your work is until you’ve showed up to create and share something with people every day for a while.

And while you’re busy showing up, your skills are busy levelling up.

If you don’t know me and don’t trust me, or if you do and still don’t, take it from Ira Glass. He’s some famous radio guy who sounds convincing talking about creative work.

“Do a lot work. Do a huge amount of work. Put yourself on a deadline. Every week or every month. It’s only by going through a volume of work that you’re actually going to catch up and close that gap, and the work you’re making is going to be as good as your ambitions. It takes a while. You just have to fight your way through that, ok?” (Ira Glass)

Here’s a nice video made by someone who showed up with Ira Glass narrating those elegant words.

^ Casey Neistat, Ira Glass, Gary Vaynerchuk, DHH, Maria Popova, Jiro… the list keeps growing.