I came across something really fascinating last night.
He was documenting his author journey in a blogspot blog he called “The Dashner Dude” from 2007 to 2009 (and kept going until 2012) during the exact time in which he was writing and developing The Maze Runner.
Reading his thoughts about the book and his struggles to get it published are absolutely amazing. It makes me love the story even more.
It gives me hope as a writer.
He was excited about the idea from the very beginning, but he clearly didn’t know he was writing a book that would sell millions of copies and later be turned into a movie (a series of movies, in fact).
Document, Don’t Create
Gary Vaynerchuk has been giving some consistent advice to content creators for the last year: document, don’t create.
Here is the original video where he introduces the idea:
And a collection of this advice interwoven with his entrepreneurial journey:
This approach flies in the face of my experience.
I really resisted it at first.
My success has come through creating great content, getting ranked highly on Google, inviting people to sign up for my email list and sending them highly valuable resources right when they need them.
I’ve never liked the term “blogger” and I’ve tried to avoid it as much as possible.
Here’s the thing: Gary Vee is right. Documenting is an incredible idea.
Gary is documenting on YouTube with his Daily Vee show. Sure, he has a videographer following him around every day and editing an incredible video. The quality is besides the point.
The reason he loves doing it is that he wants to be able to look back at those videos or for his grandchildren to see those videos many years from now when he is the owner of the New York Jets. He wants to be able to look back and see the journey.
Back to James Dashner . . .
That’s exactly what we have in his blog. We have his story as it develops. We see what it was like for him to “pound the pavement” as a no-name author. We see the backstory of a bestseller develop in real time by looking through the archive of his blog. It’s really amazing.
And another example . . .
Just yesterday, Alex Turnbull announced that he would be taking a break from blogging after growing one of the most successful blogs in the entrepreneurial space.
Why was it such a big success? Because he documented their journey as a company from $0 to $100K in monthly recurring revenue, then $1M, and then $5M. Now that they’ve hit all those goals (mostly thanks to the blog!) they are re-evaluating what to do next. Their success up to this point was due to one thing: document the journey and share the lessons they learn along the way.
So, I’ve been challenging myself to write a daily blog this month instead (NaNoBlogMo instead of NaNoWriMo). I’m sharing lessons I’m learning each day.
It’s hard for me because I want to sit and create incredible content that is the single best solution to a problem on the web.
Instead, I’m writing short posts. They aren’t optimized for SEO and there are no images to help the articles go viral on Pinterest.
I’m already falling into the trap, though, of trying to create. That’s not what this is about. This is about documenting the journey so that years from now I can look back at these posts or my kids can read them and see what I was learning and thinking during those years before things really got big.
Just like blogs used to be in 2007 and 2008.
So here’s to blogging like its 2007 again–back when people kept a log on the web of their journeys.
Document, don’t create.