On the “Do the Thing” Mentality or On Unremarkable Advice

When I venture into the unknown territory of a new hobby, my first course of action is to gather up and subscribe to as many relevant newsletters, email reminders, and social media outlets that produce quality content on the subject as possible. Writing wasn’t any different for me in this regard. I was immediately drawn to Medium as a great toolkit for honing my skills and learning from other writers. Little did I know just how much unremarkable advice about writing is out there.

The “Do the Thing” mentality, movement, whatever you want to call it, works under the basic premise that success comes to those who work hard and believe in themselves. All one needs to do is “do the thing” and all their problems will wash away and their true life’s calling will be revealed.

The trick is that life’s just not that simple.

So, you can imagine my surprise when my email inbox was suddenly filled with headlines like “How Writing Everyday Helped Change My Life” and “5 Habits from Successful Writers” despite neither of those articles offering any actionable advice or information other than “Writing good! Do the thing!” For those looking for actual, factual advice, there is plenty of fantastic writing advice floating around the web, you just have to know where to look. In this case, I prefer to stay away from these vapid, faux-motivational fluff pieces that serve only to inflate their author’s ego and needlessly fill up your inbox.

Here is a good rule of thumb if you want to quickly and easily identify a piece of unremarkable advice:

Is the lion’s share of the article’s content summed up in the headline without any additional information that might help better illustrate the author’s point of view?

Ding, ding, ding!

Underneath it all, it’s undeniable how relatable these articles are. Humans happen to like things that relate specifically to them and their experiences, so it makes sense that there would be a market for articles that do little but offer a brief, albeit overtly circle-jerky, reprieve from staring at a blank page, wracked with writer’s block.

“Writing good! Do the thing!”

After the fourth or fifth article like this, it starts to feel more like a pep talk after an exhaustive hot yoga session rather than a clarion call to aspiring authors to pursue their passions.

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