#039 2021 In Review
Common Discourse is a weekly briefing designed to help others (and myself) think through creativity, focus, and intentional work. It hits your inbox every Tuesday at 9:17am.
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Happy New Year! I’m happy to be bringing back Common Discourse at the start of 2022 after taking the last couple months off without any notice. It wasn’t intentional, but as things started picking up at the studio to close out the year, I felt it was best mentally to take the weight off from the early mornings and late nights I typically spend working on this.
I’m using this week to reflect a little below on this past year in writing, but not as hard as some of you did on Instagram. Who gave every person on earth permission to post everything in their camera roll? I just wanna talk.
This newsletter project is something I started around this time in 2018. For those of you who remember One Over One Hundred, then Attached Below, you’ve been here for a minute. And while those projects were good learning experiences, I finally have a clear vision and confidence to lean into what is now Common Discourse.
I wanted to write 52 emails in 2021, and while I didn’t quite accomplish that goal, I accomplished a lot of other things that I was really far away from a year ago:
I ended up shipping 23 emails this last year, which is more writing than I’ve done in all the years leading up to it
I dove into long-form writing this year, and had the opportunity to express my view on sharing your work, certainty, choosing growth, my childhood, insecurity, and a lot more. This was a huge step in my ability to find a voice and embrace vulnerability.
And from a short form perspective, I wrote over 70 bits of thought that I called Ideas from me focused on creativity, focus, and intentional work
I shared almost 100 links to places on the Internet that I had found interesting week over week and pulled over 20 quotes from other people who have said words better than I ever could
And thanks to all of you who share it, this newsletter grew from 446 people to 1,036 people and over 50% of its recipients open and read my writing every single week
I can’t count how many people said kind words in response to these weekly briefings via email, text, and DMs on social. Thank you all who went out of your way to do so, it means a lot.
In the new year I want to make less verbal promises and more physical deliveries. I’m focused on fine tuning a system that will allow me to more consistently deliver writing that is beneficial for people to read every week.
I have other ideas to keep Common Discourse fun and exciting, but 2022 is the year where we’ll walk before we run.
What are things you want to see from this project this year?
Ideas from me
Featuring some of my favorite short-form writing I sent out in 2021 this week 👇
The path is never a straight line.
It takes twists, turns, and sometimes spirals out of control.
We continually come back to things we thought we understood and see deeper truths later.
Growth isn't linear, it happens in curves.
One of the most intelligent case studies in design is the Chinese tea cup. They’re made without handles simply because if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to drink.
Humans naturally want to add more. Add a cardboard sleeve, add a warning on the outside of the cup, add a handle. The result of all these things never cools down the actual contents. And in the end, you’ll still burn your mouth from drinking too early. It’s not that people don’t see the warnings, we’re just adding more layers of separation between us and the answer.
Simplify until it’s obvious.
A more consequential and critical method of making choices is not by thinking about the positives outcomes of saying “yes” to something, but rather the implications that occur by understanding that our “yes” to one thing is a “no” to most everything else.
A quote from somebody else
It's easier to recognize beauty than it is to create it. You're good enough to know that what you're doing isn't good, but not good enough to produce something great. When you find yourself in this frustrating limbo, the challenge is to never forget what got you there in the first place. Remember that thing that got you into the game.
Your love. Your passion. Your taste. That's the reason you're here. You still belong, even if you don't feel like it right now. Your taste can be killer even if your ability is questionable.
Commit to the process and you'll become good enough, soon enough. Put in a volume of work. Close the gap.
— Ira Glass
Links worth sharing
📅 Design Studio, PORTO ROCHA, did a phenomenal year in review
👩🎨 This fan art project redrew all of Johto
📖 How Discord, Born From an Obscure Game, Became a Social Hub For Young People, nyt
🎾 I can’t recommend Mario Tennis Aces enough for Nintendo Switch. Any doubles teams want to play?
🎧 Julius Eastman, Vol 1: Femenine is minimalist magic
Thanks for another week!
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