📕 LivingOS Issue #115 -What I Learned from 365 Days of Writing and Publishing Online

52 newsletters. 33 podcast episodes. Hundreds of lifehacking guides.

Hey friends, 

As you read this, I'll be recharging in Half Moon Bay. I skimmed through Peak Performance last night and got excited about the power of rest. I can’t wait to share my experiment with you. 

After a year of writing online, I decided it was time to reflect on how I could become the best creator I could be. Since March of 2020, you’ve received 52 Friday emails, 33 podcast episodes, and hundreds of lifehacking guides. This sheer volume of work has accelerated my growth. And if I could use Joseph Stalin’s quote, “quantity has a quality all its own.”

Every day, I challenge myself to get a bit more vulnerable. Through the year, we’ve studied the principles of writing, working, and storytelling. A lot has changed, but there’s one thing that hasn’t budged in 365 days: the quality of the content. 

Building on the creator flywheel, I want to share my secrets to consuming and creating with you. 

The Perils of Consuming 

I can’t recall much from Shane Parrish and Patrick O'Shaughnessy’s podcast that I listened to while running on the treadmill. The interviews were high quality but did not interest me. It took me three years to admit that those workout episodes created more noise than signal. I went on a podcast detox in early 2020 and rebooted my playlist. This reset has been so effective that I can’t wait to hop on to my treadmill and tune into high-quality content at home. 

I was obsessed with writing everything down. It didn’t take long for my notes app to grow into an infinite scroll. Those pages inevitably became very slow and frustrating to load. They quickly became a source of shame. It took me two years to realize that laziness was the key. I had to stop copy-pasting and increase the friction to slow myself down. Now I only take notes from my own reflections with my own words. 

I used to read Ribbonfarm, Zat Rana, and Astral Codex Ten because they made me feel smart. However, they were so dense that I could hardly understand. They made me realize that I was not born to be an armchair philosopher but rather an avid practitioner. I care more about how I am feeling and listening to my inner thoughts. Maybe, one day, when I am done talking with my inner brain, I can start to care more about philosophical debates. 

I used to overwhelm myself with content that made others feel good, but not anymore. I’ve learned to limit my consumption to high-quality readings that truly spark joy. Instead of investing in other people’s passions, I am now more interested in charting my own path. 

My Online Writing Journey

At first, I wanted to write elegantly. Eugene Wei defined elegance as “codifying key ideas for maximum recall.” While this sounds like a good deed, I overlooked that people don’t read emails in front of their dual monitor. Instead, you are probably reading this letter on your phone after a long day of work, and you just want to relax. It took me a month to realize this and rewrite the letter in a story-centric, relatable tone as if we’re catching up over wine in a cozy living room. I hope you enjoy the shift. 

I quieted my internal critics and began to appreciate my voice. It took me four years to find my voice and one year to get over the old story that I couldn’t write. Anyhow, I’m now in love with my voice and am inching towards who I truly am. Plus, I got to connect with people who think alike on Twitter. It’s such a wonderful feeling that reminded me of the early days of the blogging world. 

I learned that it doesn’t matter what you are creating, as long as you’re doing it with mastery. The Internet is so big that any niche could reach a million people. Just chase what excites you and share your wonders with the world. Right now, I’m most excited about the following questions: 

  1. How fully can I embrace this life?

  2. How can I offer my gifts to others? 

  3. How can I call forth the best in the people around me and unleash their full potential?

When you create value, monetization will come. Though my day job helps power the free and open internet, my favorite content is behind the paywall. I later learned that we are all paying the creators with our time (by piecing together all the bite-sized content) or money (by accessing the very core wisdom directly). With that realization, I would simply invest in my favorite creators’ work because the return is always 10x more. 

If you have been following our journey, you may notice that we have a paid subscription for this newsletter. Here’s why: I wanted a simple email service to reach my coaching clients, so I put our proprietary knowledge and systems behind the paywall. I secretly hope you all stay on the free list because the paid membership is such a steal. Still, I appreciate all of you who found your way in. I hope you got a bit more clarity out of life.  

Can I tell you another secret? 

I love my way of living. I have everything my younger self ever dreamed of. This realization made me care less about what other people think and more about “How can I create value and help others embrace their authenticity?” 

That simple question drives every decision I made for the book, the fellowship, and the community. 

~Charlene

PS - The next LivingOS Fellowship cohort is starting on April 24th, 2021:

Apply for the LivingOS Fellowship April Cohort • Model Breakers is launching on April 26th