The Genius Estimate: Public Beta Is A Bad Idea

With every Apple announcement, any Genius who has spent time on the Genius Bar queue can accurately estimate the volume, type, and difficulty of any potential issues that will result.

I call it the Genius Estimate.

This is not done out of anger or judgment, but comes from having a thumb on the heartbeat of customers, and out of a love to help those who come through the glass doors every day.

Not Just Apple News

It's not limited to Apple announcements. The best example is when Yahoo announced a few years back they were cutting off mobile email access on iOS and forcing customers to use the Yahoo Mail app instead.

The Geniuses team I was a part of was simply the best, constantly monitoring tech news because 1. they love keeping up with the news and 2. they were constantly scanning for potential issues coming down the pipeline. In short, staying current on tech news made us better at our jobs.

The moment a teammate found out about Yahoo's mail changes, we all knew that for the next few months we would have an unusually high number of customers with Yahoo Mail problems.

We put our heads together, figured out the best solution, and had a plan in place before Yahoo pulled the plug. And we were right — the queue for the next couple of months filled with customers whose Yahoo mail "just stopped working."

Betas for Everyone

Apple just announced that they are opening up the Appleseed Beta program to the public. And I'm kind of pissed about it.

I understand that this benefits Apple. It allows them to have more beta testers, find issues sooner, and develop a more polished OS.

At the expense of their customers.

I know that not everyone with a Mac is going to rush out and install the Mac OS X beta builds, and hopefully only those who understand the consequences will do so. But I have a bad feeling that some people will install the beta software on their primary work machines.

Closed Is Better

One of the reasons so many customers love iOS and Mac OS X so much is the rock solid stability 1. Opening up the beta to the public is asking customers to sacrifice the stability Apple is famous for. This could hurt that reputation.

The only people that need to install beta software are developers. But they already get the betas as a part of the developer program.

I can't figure out the target audience Apple wants to include with this new program. Most Apple fanatics I know gladly pay the $99 for a developer account for the betas alone, even if they aren't developing any software. I am fearful that removing the paywall from the beta builds is the wrong move, opening up the betas to people who have no business using them.

Although I no longer work for Apple, my Genius Estimate instinct is still intact, and it is throwing up red flags for this program — from a support standpoint, I believe the downsides  of this will far outweigh the upsides. I'm imagining the hundreds of customers crippled by buggy beta software, potentially bringing their work to a halt or the most painful scenario — data loss.

Beta Advice

David Sparks wrote some great advice (via Thomas Brand) to those considering joining the program just for kicks. Please read it before you jump onboard.

There is nothing wrong with joining the new beta program as long as you understand what you will be sacrificing. You need to make an informed decision as to whether or not it is worth it for you.

The beta build will be shiny and new, but also buggy and glitchy. Apps you expect to always work are not guaranteed to work anymore. You will get frustrated and will probably want to go back to a stable version.

The only way to roll back is to make sure you do a Time Machine backup before you join the program, do a full wipe and restore to a stable build (about a 2 hour process), and restore your backup (potentially a multi-hour long process). It could cost many hours of time and frustration, and could lead to losing your precious pictures, documents, and other important files.

Godspeed to you if you decide to journey alongside Johnny Appleseed into the public beta program, as long as you understand how deep the rabbit hole can go.

I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that I am wrong about the effects this new program will have on customers. But if I listen to my gut, I've got a bad feeling about this.

  1. Could I say, Windows XP levels of stability? Haha :)

Choosing Comparison Quenches Creativity

You have something important to create, but if you compare yourself to others, you are choosing to stifle your own creativity. Consider this quote from my writing credo:

The success of others does not inherently label failure upon myself, unless I let it.

The key phrase here is, "unless I let it", because comparison is a choice.

It's easy to see the artists, writers, or creators you admire and think, "Holy crap, I can't do that." Guess what: you're right. You can't do what they do, even if you tried.

You were born to make what only you can make.

That doesn't mean you can't create with the same level of excellence, passion, or polish of those excelling around you. It simply means that when you do get there, it's going to look nothing like anyone else. It's going to look just like you.

So stop trying to emulate the success around you. Burn your comparison thinking and use it as fuel for your own fire. If someone creates something that blows you away, learn to celebrate with them, without that tinge of jealousy.

Make those you admire into a target you aim for, instead of the gun that shoots you down.

Implementation Without Support

Josh Ginter, writer of The Newsprint, wrote an interesting piece entitled "Analog's Stranglehold of the Classroom." Here is a quote:

"Classroom teachers, professors and instructors generally hate digital devices in the classroom. I can’t remember a time when pulling out my iPhone or iPad in class wasn’t met with a questionable look from an instructor or classmates."

Josh argues that students should be allowed to learn the way they learn best, whether it be using an iPad, Mac, or a notebook. As a former student, I heartily agree with him on every point.

However, I gained a new perspective on this subject while working on my Masters in Education.

The Teacher's Perspective

I started working on my Masters with dreams of using technology in new, innovative ways — I wanted to use my techie-ness 1 to help students learn in a way consistent with the real world. I believed that if kids started using devices in the classroom, their engagement and participation would go through the roof 2.

However, during my student teaching in middle and high schools, I heard an overwhelming cry of help from almost every teacher I encountered — veteran and inexperienced alike.

The moment I revealed my passion for technology, teachers came to me for help. I enjoyed helping them, and would support them in any way I could, but I usually didn't have the time they needed because of my other responsibilities.

One of the great things I learned during my time as a Genius was how to give technical support in a simple and understandable way 3. The teachers' response to this kind of support was similar to giving water to someone stranded in a desert. After doing everything I was able to do, I would then suggest they go to their IT person for more help.

Many times, my suggestion was met with a look of despair.

No Support

It was then I discovered that the IT staff, at some schools, were extremely difficult to work with, acting like every support call was a huge inconvenience. They offered hasty solutions, gave them a fraction of the time needed to truly help, and either didn't explain what they did to fix it, or explained it in a way that made them feel stupid. They descended upon a problem, deus-ex-machina style, and retreated to their ivory castle as quickly as they appeared. Poorer school systems have a handful of support technicians for an entire county holding dozens of schools, sometimes taking weeks to get a response.

Sadly, I have the feeling this happens in more school systems than I'd like to imagine. The IT support team is stretched beyond thin and can barely keep up with the needs of the schools. These stressful circumstances can cause great technicians to communicate in a way that is not received well.

If only every school had a Bradley Chambers or a Frasier Spiers, two guys who are blazing the trail for iPad rollouts into schools 4. Unfortunately, schools are embracing the technology without investing in the technical support.

Drowning While Kids Play Flappy Bird

So on top of everything we ask teachers to do already for their meager salary — teach students, deal with parents, grade papers, fill out paperwork, attend meetings, coach sports, and lead after-school extra-curricular activities — many schools are providing iPads, with no support, and saying, "You must use these. Figure it out. Oh, you say you have a question about it? Sorry, we'll get to you next week."

Teachers are drowning in an ocean of expectations, and we are throwing iPads at them instead of life jackets.

On top of that, students love to take advantage of teachers. During lessons I personally taught and observed, I repeatedly saw kids abusing the privilege. I tried to use devices in my lessons as much as humanly possible, and without fail, kids would be playing Flappy Bird instead of working. Some students even chose to take the hit on their grade, pretending to work the whole time and turning in garbage at the end of class. Just so they could check their Instagram.

After this happened enough times, it became easy for me to see why some teachers would hate devices and prefer the analog: a notebook can't check Facebook.

What's Best for the Kids

Think about it — we are asking veteran teachers to give up ten, twenty, or thirty years of bread-and-butter, tried-and-true, "analog" methods for something that is unproven, untested, and unsupported.

Administrators are spending inordinate sums of money on hardware and software under the pressure to adapt to the 21st century, without investing in a support structure. They then pressure teachers to use the new systems so that their money isn't wasted.

Some great teachers are rejecting devices in the classroom because they care more about their students than they do about whatever the latest trend is 5. They are unwilling to let their students not learn for even a single day trying to get the dang iPads or computers to work.

I'm not saying I have all the answers, but I do feel that I've heard the heartbeat of today's teachers — give them a solution that benefits students, is easy to use, is not easily abused, and supports them at the same time, and they will embrace it without hesitation.

Heck, they'll even be your biggest champions and cheerleaders.

Students: What To Do Until Then

So until that day comes, try to empathize with the judging glance that comes your way as you pull your iPad out of your bag. Know that they have probably been taken advantage of countless times, and have seen dozens of bright students do poorly because of it.

Prove them wrong by staying focused, paying attention, and making the grade. Show them the amazing things the iPad and Mac are capable of in your projects or presentations. Make yourself stand out from the others by going above and beyond what they expect from the average student, using your technology whenever possible to demonstrate what you learned.

Teachers: Stay Hopeful

If you are in a situation where you do not feel supported, my heart goes out to you. My hope is that this article will encourage change, and possibly lead to getting you the support you need.

Don't allow the lack of tech support to keep you from experimenting with new technology. Know that your kids have grown up with technology, and that it may be the only way some of them connect. Don't let the misuse of a few students take away the benefit from the rest — kids can get just as distracted doodling on a notepad as they can on an iPad.

Don't be afraid to ask for technical support, and don't let a stressed-out, overworked IT guy discourage you from asking again.

Until you get the help you need, know that you are not alone.

Here are a couple of resources that may help you immediately:

  1. Lynda.com — For $25 a month, get unlimited access to all of their training videos. They have 80 courses focused on Education, containing almost 4,000 videos.
  2. Out of School Podcast — This free podcast is for those "at the intersection of technology and education." Their Deploy 2014 series is a must for any educator using iPads at their school.

The Future

The Internet gives everyone access to infinite amounts of knowledge at the touch of a finger. I truly believe that teaching students how to harness this knowledge is the way of the future. But we must move forward, heeding the words of Spiderman's uncle 6. We must go into the digital future without trampling the ones fighting for the future of our kids, every day — our teachers.

Show a teacher something that is genuinely better for their kids, and I'll show you a teacher that will "get with the times" at whatever cost. All they want is a safe place to ask questions, get help, and feel supported along the way.

And for their kids to stop playing Flappy Bird. 7

  1. I like to make up words occasionally, like this one.
  2. I still believe, that if done correctly, this is true.
  3. Most of these teachers had umpteen degrees and were brilliant people. They could make me feel stupid in just about any other area if they wanted to.

    Just because you know more about technology than another person does not imply that you are more intelligent.

    In fact, I believe the alternative to be true: If you think you are more intelligent because you know more about technology, you most definitely are not.

  4. Bradley and Frasier have a fantastic podcast called Out of School. If you are standing in the gap of tech and education, you must listen to this podcast. Yesterday.
  5. Education is infamous for changing for the sake of change, going from one fad to the next, and circling right back where they started.
  6. "With great power comes great responsibility."
  7. ;)

Overwhelmed

I have been overwhelmed with the amount of traffic I've gotten to the site lately for my article "The Ultimate Guide to Solve iOS Battery Drain." Before a few days ago I was averaging double digits per day.

In the past 72 hours, I've been linked by the following sites (plus a few more), generating tens of thousands of hits per hour: 1

The ball started rolling when The Loop linked me (who heard about it through Rafiq Sarlie) on Sunday, April 6th. The views started rolling in steadily until the next day when several others linked me. Then traffic exploded.

The past three days have been a wild ride. I've been giddy like a young schoolboy 2 most of the time, bouncing around all day and unable to sit still. I know I should turn off my Tweetbot notifications, but it's too fun right now.

I wanted to say thanks to every person who shared my article over the past few days. It may seem small to you to retweet, share, or like my article, but you truly have changed my life. Thank you for all of your emails, texts, and tweets. I read every single one of them, and many of them were very positive, helpful, and meaningful to me.

What Now?

Several of my friends have asked me, "How are you going to follow up after that post? You better write something epic." I've felt that pressure myself. However, I think the worst thing I could try to do is "replicate" some "formula" to get more hits.

If I tried to make every post I write go "viral" 3, I wouldn't want to read my own blog. There are a lot of disgusting, pageview-grubbing publications that settle for cheap tricks 4, trendy titles 5, and borderline plagiarism 6 to grab the eyeballs. I never really payed attention to slimy publications before, but the past few days I've been forced to — several of them contacted me asking for the "privilege" to have my posts "syndicated" on their site — a way for them to get my article for free (i.e. Not paying me for it) for the great "opportunity of exposure". Don't worry, I turned them down.

Special thanks to Shawn Blanc, Marco Arment, and Rick Stawarz for steering me in the right direction. I admit it was tempting at first, because it seems like such a big opportunity and I didn't understand what giving my material to them would do — drive traffic to their site and very little to mine.

In that same vein, however, you may have noticed the ad at the top of the page. Don't worry, I'm not going to add fifty flashing, blinking banners for dating services or online poker sites — that's the only ad I will ever add to this site. I'm happy to be a new member of the Fusion Ad Network. They approached me during the craziness and have been fantastic to work with.

Also, I want to give a huge thanks to Sid O'Neill over at Crate of Penguins for helping me implement my Fusion ad. I messaged him in a panic and he took a significant amount of his own time to get in and fix it for me. He wouldn't let me pay him for the help, so instead I'm asking you to go read his site, and if you like his stuff, consider supporting his work.

Ok, so one of my posts got popular, but what now? That is what has been burning on my mind during all this is — how do I continue from here?

Long Term

I started this blog because I like to write things that help others.

In my mind, my blog was going to be a small landing page where I could reference some helpful ideas that may benefit my friends and family, as well as a place for me to build my writing skills and get some words out of my head.

But now, a significant number of people have jumped on board. Will they all fit on my rickety dinghy of a blog? How do I steer this thing? Will it hold water?

My plan for Overthought.org is to keep doing what I was doing before: write about things that I care about, are interesting to me, and will possibly help others. In reality, one blog post getting enormous traffic doesn't change anything for me.

Yes, I got linked by some big sites, but that doesn't somehow make me a better writer — I'm still the same exact person I was before all of this happened. And I'm not going to let this change me. 7

Short Term

It makes me so incredibly happy that the world is reading my iOS Battery Life Guide because it is something I am very passionate about. The fact that I could write something to help and benefit so many people is very fulfilling.

My immediate focus right now is getting the article translated into as many languages as possible: I really believe that everyone with an iOS device should read, or at least be able to read, my article. There are so many terrible misconceptions about iOS battery life that I am intent on dismantling.

So far I have Italian, Russian, German, Spanish, Catalan, and others in the works, and I've already posted the Korean and French versions. Some amazing people have been volunteering to translate for free — I am blown away by their generosity. Thanks to everyone who has stepped up to help with the translation process.

Support

Multiple readers have emailed me with their own specific situations of poor battery life, asking for my help trying to figure it out. I am torn — the technician in me wants to help every single person, but there just isn't enough time in the day.

So, if you are still having battery life issues after reading my article, I graciously refer you to your nearest Apple Store. My article covers roughly 95% of the most common issues, but your issue could be the 5% of an individual edge case that needs to be looked at by a good technician 8. If you are not near an Apple Store, Apple has a site that lists Apple Authorized Service Providers in your area.

If you live in Birmingham, Alabama (or soon to be in the Minneapolis area), you could also book an appointment with the Macinstructor, an Apple training and support business started by my good friend, Rick Stawarz. The Birmingham division is currently being run by Jeff Mann, while Rick is moving and setting up shop in Minneapolis soon. They are both ex-Apple employees, and are the best at what they do.

If you check all of those resources and you still can't find anyone to help you, have no fear — I am the process of coming up with a solution for you. Hang tight. I'm working to get you some help.

Catching Up

Since a lot of people are new to the site, I also wanted to introduce all of you to a few articles I've written over the past year in case you missed them. All of these are available in my Archive or my Featured page.

Here you go:

Informative Posts

Deeper Thoughts

  • Sleaze Brain — An article about the opposite of the "Lizard Brain", a term famously coined by Merlin Mann.
  • The Outsider and the Creed — This, in my mind, was the turning point for me as a writer: it's where I wrote down and declared who I want to be as a writer. It was published six days ago, two days before my post got linked.

Thanks Again

Thanks again to everyone who has stopped by the site. I'm extremely grateful for your amazing words, feedback, and just general awesomeness. I want you to know that I see you as more than just a pair of "eyeballs". I look forward to building a relationship together as Overthought.org grows.

If you have benefited from any of my work, and you want to show some love, here are some things you can do:

  1. Share my articles.
  2. Follow me, personally, on Twitter @scottyloveless or App.net @scottyloveless.
  3. Follow the blog account on Twitter @overthoughtorg.
  4. Like the new Facebook group.
  5. Sign up for my email newsletter in the form at the bottom of the page to receive free updates directly to your inbox.
  6. Donate a few bucks or become a patron. My dream is to write full-time, but I need the equivalent of a full-time income to do that. Every little bit helps :)

Footnotes

  1. Kudos to Squarespace, my host, for not crashing at all (that I know of).
  2. ;)
  3. Does that word even have value anymore?
  4. "Cat Interrupts Robbery — What Happens Next Will Surprise You..."
  5. 82 Reasons Cats Are More Hipster Than Dogs
  6. Big publications ripping off other people.
  7. Or give me what I call "Sleaze Brain"
  8. Good technicians don't always work for Apple, I'm sorry to say. Many of them will tell you to quit your apps and turn everything off. Sigh. Baby steps, people.

How to Stop Your iPhone from Vibrating Randomly

Does your iPhone ever vibrate randomly, but when you check it, there is no notification anywhere to be found? This is not a phantom vibration, and you are not imagining things. 

The reason this is happening is usually because of Mail notifications. You may say, "I've turned off all my mail notifications, what do you mean?!" Well, there is one sneaky setting you might have missed — the vibration setting.

Turn off Vibration for Mail Notifications

  1. Head over to Settings > Sounds > New Mail
  2. Tap on 'Vibration'
  3. Set it to 'None'

With this setting on, even if you turn off all Mail sounds and notifications, your phone will vibrate every time it receives a new email.

There is one more place we need to check. iOS 7 added another place to manage Mail notifications.

Another Place to Check Mail Notifications

  1. Go to Settings > Notification Center > Mail
  2. Tap on the Account(s) you use for email
  3. Tap on Alerts
  4. Make sure the Alert Tone and Vibration are set to 'None'
  5. Repeat for any other email accounts on your device

An alternate solution to the problem is to turn on notifications for VIPs or for an entire account. The latter option is not ideal for most people because that means you will be alerted for every email that comes in, including the spam. 1

VIPs are just that: very important people you designate in iOS 7 2 or Mac OS X Mavericks 3. Designating someone as a VIP in either iOS or Mac OS X will allow you to set a different set of notification preferences.

For example, if you designate your spouse, boss, and good friends as VIPs, you can customize your notifications to vibrate, ding, show a banner, or show up on the lock screen for just your VIPs and not the rest of the annoying spam you get throughout the day.

Here's how you do it.

Customize Notifications for VIPs

  1. Settings > Notification Center > Mail
  2. Tap on VIP 4
  3. Customize the Notification style to your preferences

If you have done all of these steps and your phone is still vibrating randomly, be sure to check the notifications for your apps. The way that iOS 7 handles notifications is very confusing, and it's difficult to disable notifications completely for apps. It's possible you have an app set up for Sound notifications but have the Badge, Alert Style, and Notification Center settings switched off.

To check the notification settings for your apps, go to Settings > Notification Center. You should see a list of all of the apps on your device that support Notifications. Under the name of each app, you will see four possible words: Badges, Sounds, Banners, or Alerts. Scroll down the list and make sure there aren't any apps with just 'Sounds' enabled. You may think you've turned off notifications for an app, but accidentally left 'Sounds' on. The resulting behavior is a sound or vibration without a visual indicator of where it is coming from.

I hope this article stops the random vibrations and allows you to get back to life and work instead of trying to figure out why your iOS device is vibrating all the time. If you are still feeling random vibrations after this, you may have phantom vibration syndrome and need to see a shrink. 5

  1. Now you'll be notified every time a Nigerian prince wants to transfer funds to your account!
  2. Also works in iOS 6.
  3. Also works in 10.8 Mountain Lion.
  4. Or tap on Account if you want to receive notifications for an entire account. Just to be clear, if you turn these on for an entire account, you will receive a notification for every single email that comes to that account. You've been warned :)
  5. ;)

The Outsider and the Creed

Josh Ginter wrote a very inspiring piece called, "Hey, It's Me, The Little Guy" over at The Newsprint. His basic idea is that Twitter has become a great equalizing factor in the world, allowing unprecedented access to the great minds of our time. I agree 100% with every word of this article. I encourage you to read it.

While I do agree with Josh, I wanted to highlight something I've encountered that comes along with this direct access to those more 'successful' 1 than yourself: the feeling of being an outsider. I'll use the example of a podcast to begin explaining what I mean.

I've listened to ATP 2 since episode 1 3, and I genuinely love listening to the show. My favorite thing about ATP, and podcasts in general, is that the hosts are simply a couple of awesome geeks hanging out and talking about what they are passionate about. ATP is about technology, but you can find a niche podcast about almost anything these days.

I consider myself a very opinionated and talkative person, so when I hear John, Marco, and Casey 4 talking about something I love or care about, I have an intense urge to join in the conversation.

But I can't. Not really. Or if I did, I would feel like some random guy interrupting a conversation between actual friends. After the dozens of hours I've hung out with the ATP guys listening to their podcast, I feel as if I know them, that they are my friends, and that if I saw them I would want to rush up and talk to them like we were buddies. But the reality is, they don't know me from a hole in the ground.

I follow a lot of tech writers on Twitter because what they have to say interests me. However, jumping in to add something to one of their conversations on Twitter feels just as awkward as if I did this in real life. I am a stranger to them, so why would they want to hear what I have to say?

I've come to realize that this outcast mentality is really insecurity. You don't feel secure around the people around you. The people you are the most secure around are your best friends or family, who bring about a sense of inclusion. You are accepted as a part of the group. Reflecting on my past, there are many reasons I feel the way I do.

Counting Your Popularity

Looking back on my childhood and my middle school/high school years, these feelings of being an outsider, feeling left out, and not being a part of the crowd are a consistent, dark thread that can be easily traced. It's affected my relationships, friendships, and social life in more ways than I want to think about. But it has gotten weaker the more I grow in confidence in who I am and learn to honestly not care what people think about me. 99% of my insecurities are not real to anyone else — they exist only in my head and are real only to me. That doesn't mean they don't feel real, because our perceptions of reality are our reality.

Back in my day 5, popularity was all unspoken and amorphous. It was judged on who your friends were, how "good looking" you were, or by your actions and accomplishments. But now, there is an exact number every person can equate with their popularity. Not only that, but you can directly compare that number to your peers. Let me explain this a little more.

One day during my student teaching 6, I overheard two 7th graders having a conversation: "Aw, my picture on Instagram only has 67 likes, I may just delete it." I couldn't help but ask why they would delete their picture because of this. The answer shook me.

"All the really popular kids get at least 200 likes on their photos. If I don't get enough likes, I just delete my picture because it's embarrassing." 7

My heart broke. What a terrible reality, albeit virtual, we have created for our kids and for ourselves.

Any teenager with a smartphone can come to conclusions like, "That person is 10 times more popular than me, because they have 10 times the likes (or followers)" or "I'm twice as popular as her." You get the idea. Just thinking about the possibilities makes me sad.

The saddest part is that it made me realize that I sometimes do the same thing. Up to this point in my life, I never really cared about how many Facebook friends I had, how many likes I got on my posts, or how many Twitter followers I had.

Until I Started A Blog

Nothing has stirred up insecurity in me more than having my own blog because it's so easy to get into the popularity game with site analytics and social networks. How many likes did I get? How many visitors came to my site today? How many hits did my post get today?

Then the comparison-demon kicks in, comparing the number of likes, followers, and web traffic of my site to everyone else's site, further destroying my confidence. When I started blogging at Overthought, I began looking at the statistics as my primary method of feedback: a metric of success. I mean, heck, I've never done this before — how am I supposed to know if I'm doing a good job? I could feel really great about an article, knowing that I did my absolute best, but it could still only get a handful of hits.

My self-confidence was the one taking all the hits my post didn't get. My old insecurities rose their ugly head, biting with a venomous bite and lingering like a poison in my mind. Numerous times I've thought about giving up out of self-loathing or fear. Heck, I've even shuttered the site for weeks at a time.

For some reason, the insecurity was heightened because it was about my creation, not just myself, as it was in grade school. It was about my baby, the posts I worked really hard on. And if my creation got rejected or neglected, I somehow felt rejected on a deeper level because it was so difficult to push through my fear and publish it.

I know that I can't measure success by how many followers, friends, or likes I receive for the creative work I put out into the world. But knowing it in your head and believing it in your heart are two very different things.

Some creatives derive comfort and solace through meditation, a higher power, or mental exercise. Many will accept their mental torment as the reality of being an artist, and embrace it as part of the creative process, hence the "tortured artist" cliché. The vast majority of people who desire to create will give up on their craft altogether, becoming content with simply consuming and appreciating the work of others 8.

The Creative Creed

In order to combat the oppressive insecurity, I was inspired to write down a few statements that, starting now, I will aspire to live and create by. I see them as a new measuring stick for myself besides numbers and statistics. It is a creed of sorts. Call it whatever you want to, it doesn't matter. I'm calling it the Creative Creed.

It is in no way comprehensive, and I will probably add more to it as I go. I wanted to open source it to you guys in the hopes that it will benefit you in some small way.

Here is what I came up with:

 

"From here on out, I am choosing to reject the idea that pain, suffering, and insecurity always have to be a part of my creative process. I choose to create from a place of peace, letting my passions and interests drive my writing instead of my pain. I'm not saying I will be ignorant of my own pain, but I will not let the pain of creating sit in the driver's seat of my creative process.

I will learn to separate my creation from myself, learning to not take it personally if it fails, by any form of measurement. I will outlast these feelings of self-doubt until they go away, and I will actively work to prevent their existence, no matter how long it takes.

I will not compare my creation to that of anyone else, because I can create something no one else can. Some are ahead of me, some behind, for we are all travelers on different legs of the same journey. I will learn to celebrate those ahead of me, encouraging them to keep going, and help those that are behind me, encouraging them to stay strong. The success of others does not inherently label failure upon myself, unless I let it. The popularity of another does not imbue unpopularity upon me.

I will seek feedback about my creations with an open mind, not taking any corrections or suggestions personally. I will find others who are creating in the same field and build relationships with them, because I can't succeed alone. I will find truth in the negative feedback I receive, learning to extract the truth from even the harshest words, and use it to get better. I will create something better today than I did yesterday, seeking to only best myself."

 

These words have helped me tremendously by giving me something to aim for besides Pageviews, RSS subscribers, and Twitter followers. It has helped me deal with the nagging insecurities and fears I have when sitting down and writing.

If you have given up on your craft, or have felt discouraged lately, to you I say:

Life is not a popularity contest. Stop comparing yourself to others and feeling like the outsider. Your voice is important. You have the ability to create something no one else does. The world is incomplete without your voice. Don't let your fear and insecurity keep you from creating, for our sake as much as yours

  1. However you define 'success'.
  2. The Accidental Tech Podcast. A great show if you're into development, technology, or other nerdy miscellany. You should listen to it if you already haven't.
  3. They are now on episode 58.
  4. The hosts of ATP.
  5. I graduated high school in 2006, so not that long ago.
  6. Basically, an unpaid semester of teaching seen as an internship. I just finished my Masters in Education in December 2013 for Middle/High School English Education, and part of that degree is one semester student teaching.
  7. I've asked other middle and high school students, and the "popular" number varies based on the size of the school. At a large high school, the popular kids might get 1000+ likes per post.
  8. There is nothing wrong with consuming the excellent work of others, unless you have given up on your own ability to create. I've noticed that people who give up on their craft are much more sad than those who face the challenges and difficulties of creating.

Link: A Writing Guide

"Go out there and have a good time, because if you're not having a good time, it's going to show in your writing."

If you have any interest in writing on the internet, or your dream is to do something creative full-time, you really need to listen to the episode of The Weekly Briefly"A Writing Guide," by Shaun Blanc and featuring Patrick Rhone.

This is one of the most impactful, encouraging, and practical messages I've heard on the topic. You owe it to yourself and your craft to listen to it.