Issue #020 | August 09, 2020  


This week: you're only as good as your last, getting unstuck, overcoming the fear of selling, disciplined creativity, a lesson in self-control from a 2-year old.

You're Only as Good as Your Last

My loyal but misguided frenemy stopped by for a visit this week.

She visits every so often. 

Usually when I'm in the process of creating something. Like this newsletter. Or an article for my blog. Or a new gift book design.

My inner frenemy plays this weird bait-and-switch game with me. 

Where one minute, I'm feeling really good about the thing I've created. 

And I tell myself:

"I've soooo got this". 

"I finally know what the heck I'm doing". 

"And, I'm actually pretty good at this". 

Then off I go, happy dancing around the kitchen for 10 minutes or so.

heres to the crazy ones quote - not fitting in

A few hours later, and my frenemy comes-a-mocking: 

"That last piece you wrote... yeah, it was aiight. People dug it. But let's see if you can top that, because we both know it was probably a fluke". 

"And we all know you're only as good as your last piece".

Just when you think you've got this creator life sussed eh?

But, the thing is you are only as good as your last... [fill in the blank]

I know. That's the last thing we want to hear when we're struggling to replicate the success of our last creation. It's pressure we don't want to think about. 

But, that pressure is the fuel that gets us striving towards our best work.

There are times we release something that isn't as great as we'd like it to be. And it dies the death of a thousand slow deaths.

We start to replay the voice of the frenemy, and in that moment we've got two choices: 

(1) believe her lies, or 

(2) take a deep breath and try again.

Mourn, learn and then bury the flops

Here's what I've learned to do with those moments of self doubt.

I mourn the loss of 'something that could have been great'. 

I learn from it - "what do I need to do differently next time?"

And then I bury it. That is to say, I bury my dissatisfaction with it, stop beating myself up, and crack on with the next.

Because: there's always a better, bigger, bad-assier version of your creation waiting to be birthed.


If your last newsletter received nothing but crickets and a bunch of unsubscribes. Try to understand why it wasn't as great as your last. Get feedback. Learn from it. Then bury it beneath the awesomeness of your next newsletter. 

If your last book or article didn't get anywhere near the love you hoped it would. Get feedback. Learn from it. Bury it beneath the awesomeness of your next publication. 

If your last design or piece of artwork is collecting dust in your online store... well, you know the drill.

You're only as good as your last... 

Thanks for the reminder, frenemy. 

Now excuse me while I gather myself to create my next thing. 

And if that ends up not being as good as the last, I'll try again tomorrow. 

And the day after that, and the day after that.

Mena x

Finds: Advice, Tips & Tools

🔥 Overcoming the fear of selling as a creator

Selling isn't a dirty word. It's the vital act that stops you from remaining a starving creator for the rest of your life.

I'm loving how Ash Ambirge, in her very real and raw voice, breaks down the main reasons people shy away from selling their work. In her own words:

  1. Most people don’t know the point of their work.
  2. They don’t know the promise of their work.
  3. They don’t know how to differentiate their work.
  4. They don’t know how to make what they sell sound memorable and sticky and brand worthy.
  5. They don’t make the client the star. (AKA they talk about themselves too much.)
  6. They describe what they do instead of sell it.
  7. They (heartbreakingly) have no idea why they’re a badass.
  8. And—most notably—they speak as if they’re playing dress up with mummy’s high heels.

Ooof, she is going off. But Ash doesn't leave you hanging. She's got a killer suggestion for fixing all that.

The Hidden Shame of Entrepreneurship—And Why For Some People, It’s Really Frigging Hard to Sell Themselves (The Middle Finger Project)

🔥 How to 'unstuck' yourself 

It's safe to say we've all been here before. You've got this grand plan to write or design your thing. You're super excited about your new idea and you picture what it would be like once you've finished it. It looks amazing (in your head). All you've got to do is just start it... and so the struggle begins.

In this fun and entertaining piece, Martha Beck writes about the 'approach-avoidance conflict': You want something, but at the same time you fear it, and so you distract yourself from taking action. You do non-urgent stuff like vacuuming the whole damn house instead of writing your newsletter (not mentioning any names here *clears throat*).

Martha's advice includes: adding positive experiences, shortening work time and finding your cheerleaders.

Getting Unstuck (Martha Beck)

🔥 How to practice disciplined creativity

This is a 10-part manifesto to help writers become more disciplined about their writing projects. But really, much of this advice can work for other creators too.

Stefanie Flaxman's rules for improving self-discipline include: setting small but satisfying goals, letting go of the need to be 100% right and giving yourself extra time.

Succeed as a Professional Writer by Practicing Disciplined Creativity (Copyblogger)

🔥 A lesson in self control from a 2 year old

You've heard of the marshmallow test right? Where researchers leave a kid alone in a room with a treat. If the kid can resist eating it while the researcher is out of the room, they'd be rewarded with an even bigger treat.

Well, on one of my YouTube escapades I came across this video. Let me tell you. The kid in the video - Jersey is his name. THIS two year old baby totally slams the test.

Not only is he all kinds of adorable (and a good listener, and freakingly smart), he's schooling us in willpower and self discipline. The level of self control... just listen to his self-talk. And remember, this child is two. I... I can't. Please watch. You'll see what I mean.

The 'marshmallow test' starts at the 3:24 timestamp.

We left him alone and this happened (Playtime with Jersey)

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