Dealing with streakiness in the creative process

I’m finishing my seventh year of daily blogging on May 25th. Over the past 2,555 days I’ve written 3,523 posts or about 2,000,000 words. Nearly every day over the past 2,555 days I have sat down at my computer and written something that was worth my time in the moment.


So what has changed since 2004? An o-crap-this-better-not-suck-amount of people read what I write every day. And the amount that each post gets shared, tweeted, and emailed around is completely determined by the remark-ability of what I write. In some ways it is a self-created pressure cooker.

It’s fun that the process doesn’t change but the response does. I have no ability to predict the outcome of each post. There are weeks or even months where my blog experiences a hot streak. Everything I write gets lots of feedback. (Even the stuff that sucks.) Conversely, there are weeks or months when nothing really happens to my posts. I just write and that’s it.

Many days I press “publish” and I anticipate a massive response to something that seems brilliant to me but nothing happens. Then there are days when I write something flippantly and publish it with almost no thought and it explodes and goes viral.

Same process. Same style. Different response.

Some might find that infuriating or that it frustrates the process. Not me. I find it fascinating.

The creative life

Everyone claims to have been a Seinfeld fan all along. But, in the moment, the most popular way to talk about Seinfeld was that most people didn’t find it nearly as funny as the people in New York said it was. Seinfeld didn’t really become funny for most people until it hit syndication because when it was fresh they didn’t get it.

Chances are that Shakespeare’s favorite piece wasn’t Romeo and Juliet. It was just what became most popular. The same is probably true with Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea or Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. Sometimes for a creative what takes off is not what they have the most fun doing.

Response to creativity is always streaky and unpredictable.

So here’s a tip: If you want to write, just write. Don’t worry about the response too much. Just write, write, and write some more. Ultimately, you are the audience.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in Ahwahnee, California.

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