Just Write Something, Nerd
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Arthur Ashe
It’s 3:32 PM, Tuesday, December 6, 2016. I’m sitting here in my brother’s house while I’m back home helping out on the farm for a bit. Outside blows the icy cold winds of the beginning of a Northern Minnesota Blizzard. The kids are home from school being out early, you can barely see fifty yards in front of you on the road, and your face gets assaulted by the familiar torrent of icy cold snow flakes if you step outside for a few seconds. Ned Stark was right, winter has come.
It’s only gotten crazier since I took this picture this afternoon
All last night and this morning, I’ve been racking my brain on what to write and post for you amazing nerds out there. My deadline, as always, is 6:00 PM on Tuesday and so far, I haven’t had anything. Sure, I’ve got some ideas like “What are awesome online nerdy resources for you to check out” or “How is technology changing our lives and our jobs as we know it?” — but none of that seemed to jive with me. Sure, I probably will write about those things later on down the road, whether they’ll make it to this site or not as a piece of riveting content (see what I did there?) remains to be seen. Regardless, I need to write -something- don’t I? But what can I just spew out in the next couple of hours that’s gonna provide some value to folks out there?
It’s times like these that I think back to some of the best writing advice that I ever got. Whenever I get completely stumped and have no idea what to put on paper (or in this case, on the laptop screen), I just start writing. It doesn’t matter what it is, I just start typing and see what happens. Sure, I might get a few paragraphs or maybe an entire page of garbage. And before I hit “select all” and delete it, I might notice one sentence, one little nugget of gold in that pile of crap. After that, it all becomes worth it. Even if there isn’t a good little morsel in there, at least I’ve written garbage and not nothing at all.
Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of folks out there who were in the same position that I am in while tossing these words on the screen. Some people are having trouble starting their blog, unsure of what to write. They are concerned that they really need that perfect piece of content to start their awesome new platform. Or someone is trying to cook for the first time, and are super careful that they get the measurements right for this recipe that they found online. There are even cats out there that are wanting to get fit and healthier, but are paralyzed by all the information that’s out there and have no idea what’s right or what’s wrong. In all these cases, people often find themselves stuck in an information overload state, and instead of getting after it, they don’t do anything at all.
How I looked a few minutes ago.
I totally get it. I’m always concerned about the best piece, the best video, the best interview, and I’m constantly seeking new ways of doing stuff better to reach that perfect thing that helps everyone. I understand that pressure, that overwhelming feeling of “How am I going to do all this well? Should I even bother doing it?” that tends to freeze people in place when making a decision. Questions like those are my constant companions on the journey that we’re on to build the amazing site that I know that it can be.
But you know what? I answer those questions with a simple truth: Perfection is all perspective. One person’s “perfect” is another’s “not good enough”. Knowing that, I tend to think of my end results a little differently. Instead of thinking about making the end result perfect, work on the process. Do good work, and the results follow. Perfection is in the execution, not the end result. Take it one step at a time. Instead of being overwhelmed by climbing a whole mountain, take it one cliff at a time. Climb up enough cliffs, it adds up, and those results speak for themselves.
Or I could just use a helicopter…
The snow storm is building up. I know that sometime tomorrow morning, I might have to shovel snow out of a driveway. I could let myself get overwhelmed by that scenario of “Is it done snowing? Do I even bother? Where do I even start with all this mess?”. Or I could just grab that shovel, pick a spot, and just start. Focus on the five feet in front of me. Do that for a few minutes, and eventually I see a sidewalk under my feet again.
Today, I cleaned mud off of the tracks of an excavator. This was necessary for winter storage as mud could freeze and expand, and mess some stuff up. There’s always that rust problem too, yo. Man, when I was given that task and looked at all that mud and dirt, it was a bit daunting. But you know what? I looked for the nearest chisel looking tool, popped my ear buds in, fired up a podcast, and got after it. A few short hours and some sore biceps later, I was done. Was it spit shine clean? No. Was there mud everywhere? Yes. But the job was done, mud was off where it needed to be, and I felt great.
“Just start writing, Nerd” is what I said to myself at the beginning of this article and by the old gods and the new, I got something done, and I feel great writing this last paragraph before I go into the snowy abyss. What’s that thing you’re struggling with? Is it an article? Is it a long workout? Is it what to make for dinner? Don’t sweat it. Whatever it is, just take it one step, one word, one ingredient at a time. Before you know it, you’ll have done something awesome. It all comes down to that decision to start. So just start, Nerd. :)
FYI — This is a re-post that I wrote for the nerdy entertainment/community site that I run, www.rivetcitylimited.com. I won’t do many re-posts of stuff that I write there, but I thought this would be something good for the Medium audience. Myself and a few other writers make weekly contributions there in multiple genres of the nerdy community. Feel free to check it out at your leisure!