School told me I wasn’t an artist. I believed it. My year 8 art teacher gave me a D for my drawing. All that effort. A green ninja turtle. Not the ones you see on TV, my own.
The next year I dropped art, music and drama. All of it. Anything that wasn’t maths or science.
In year 12 I got a C- for English. The stories I wrote weren’t good. Why not? I thought I ticked the criteria. I read the book, rewrote it in my words, told it how I understood it. Now I couldn’t write, draw, act. What was the deal?
There was one thing though. I was captain of debating. I could speak. Writing differently to speaking bored me. My English essay was good (to me, not the teacher) but it was a drag to write. I had to take time off gaming to get it down. We were the best Call of Duty team in Australia, that’s a full-time job.
Our debating team went to other schools and they came to us. We’d have a week with a topic a week to wrap our 17-year-old brains around it and form an argument, for or against. Sometimes there wasn’t a topic. Instead, we’d get there an hour early and get given the topic on the night. You had to think of a speech on the spot.
I was always third speaker. Which meant I had the job of summarising the first two speakers on our team and saying why the other team was wrong. I loved it.
While the other team were speaking I had to think of why they were wrong and write it down. I didn’t have time to write an essay. I had to write how I was going to speak it. Then I had to deliver. That’s what mattered.
We went through our final year undefeated.
Essays are still hard for me to write and there’s nothing worse than reading poor writing. One of the easiest ways to improve your writing is to write like you speak. If you can’t explain something with words, say it out loud as if you were telling your friend about it and then write that.
It took me 7-years out of school to start creating again. To start writing publicly. To start making videos. I still haven’t gotten back into drawing. But I will.
When it first went live it wasn’t good. My first 30 YouTube videos were me sitting in my car. There were gaming videos on another channel but they weren’t me. My first articles were over edited, ‘what if someone thinks this when they read that?’
Thankfully they’ve gotten better since. And I have no plans to stop improving, stop challenging myself. That’s the key. Be your own biggest critique. Make things you’d like to see and make them quality.
But after a while being your own biggest critique gets easy. Then you have to learn how to be your own biggest fan. Fan and critique at the same time.
I hit 10,000 subscribers the other day. Now we’re on the way to 100,000.
But that’s not the metric I pay attention to. The metrics you can game don’t matter.
Was it published?
Did the idea turn into something?
Where is it?
Can I see it?
Not everything goes out into the world. It shouldn’t. But in order to get better, you have to publish.
That’s what I measure myself on.
It’s what led me to being able to leave my job as a machine learning engineer and pursue a journey on my own. Let’s see where it goes.
If you’ve watched my videos or read my articles. Thank you.