I know many bloggers who make their reputation in a specific genre based more on their interaction with people via Twitter and at parties than by actually writing blog posts.
A friend who doesn’t fit this scenario at all has a saying… ‘I’m not a blogger I just talk a lot’. What’s strange about that saying is that he best describes the so-called ‘famous bloggers’ more than he describes himself. The dude actually has good content and close to 700 blog posts over nearly five years!
…[Casey] lives the dream family- and job-wise but still finds time to fork out nearly a blog a week. I’m pretty sure he’s Clark Kent by day and the Superman of the blogs by night. But as his quote goes, he obviously feels that the words aren’t enough.”
— Eric Freedlander, “When the Words Weren’t Enough We Had Milk“
It’s been half a decade since my buddy Eric wrote these words about me, but they’ve only grown truer over time. The fam’s grown bigger. The job more complex. I’m still churning content on the daily.
But though the hustle’s still real, a lot changes over time—let me tell you a bit about what my #BloggerLife’s like today.
DESTROY | Blogging Ain’t Like It Used To Be.
It’s been a long time since what I do was “just blogging”. I’ve obsessively raised the bar time and time again since the turn of the decade, seeing the brand evolve into something unrecognisable from its beginnings. I swapped consistency out for quality and socialising out for scribing. I needed to see how high I could reach before I closed this chapter of my life.
But this gig ain’t easy.
DESTROY | You Can’t Do the Same Thing Forever and Expect the Same Results.
Anthony Sistilli put it well when he shared his story of mastering StarCraft II on Medium. His take on his journey was this:
“Breaking my plateaus felt like rebuilding myself from scratch… [t]here were cracks in my foundation, gaps in my understanding, and a lot of things that needed refining. I had to reinvent the way I played. In order to go higher I had to break it down and rebuild it up again.”
When you stop feeling like you’re growing, it’s time for some serious self-evaluation, and figure out whether you’re doing the things you should be doing.
And Anthony’s right—there are so many of us who’ve been at this since forever, but we haven’t made it big because we haven’t tapped into what makes each of us unique and stand out from the crowd.
“Don’t be good, my ████, be great.”
— JAY Z, “F.U.T.W.”, Magna Carta Holy Grail (2013)
The market’s more oversaturated than ever, and there’s no shortage of thirsty individuals willing to do anything to get their time in the shine.
But me? I can’t be about that life.
DESTROY | A Brief History of How I Got Here, Part I — Becoming the Man I’m Supposed to be.
Honestly? I’ve fought too hard by now to take this thing for granted. Unlike the world I’m trying to build for my kids—and arguably what I see in store for their entire generation—back when I grew up, creativity usually didn’t pay the bills.
I’m from that first-generation Canadian mould—the one where your Mom would clean every house in town if that’s what it took to send me to Harvard Medical. My parents fought their own fights to make sure I was denied no opportunity, getting me into gifted education when school administration thought my intelligence was just a phase; private school when money was already tight; and a lucrative career in public service when I was happy to settle as a mid-level banker living under their roof.
And in all this, I gradually became the man my parents wanted me to be. A husband. Father. Provider. Earner. They’d done enough worrying in their lives that they never wanted their children to do the same, and I think they can safely retire, proud of what they accomplished.
But it wasn’t good enough for me to look good on paper. You can’t travel down one path without leaving another behind, and as I became this “model adult”, little did I know what was still bubbling under the surface…
…my inner child was knocking, dying to come out and play.
DESTROY | A Brief History of How I Got Here, Part II — Forgetting the Kid I Was.
Long before I enrolled in Business at York University when I couldn’t decide what to do after high school, or I even dreamed of becoming a married father of two, my creativity’s what I had.
My penchant for drawing and storytelling goes way back, with my first distinct memory being the time I told a kindergarten classmate it was okay to draw Old MacDonald with three fingers, and promptly changing it to five when the teacher came by and corrected her work.
The decades that followed were studious, yes, but I probably spent just as much time with my nose in a sketchbook as I did with a textbook, fighting hard to get my ideas out of my head.
And those were—without a doubt—some of the freest days of my life, too. I’d spend the school year filling notebooks with comics about my classmates and summers writing fantasy novels about magic and dragons. As I made my way into my twenties, my style evolved and my opportunities with it, finding myself in collectives with other local artists, dreams of art school and illustration dancing around in my head.
But my parents, ever the pragmatists, didn’t see it as I did.
DESTROY | Goodnight, Creative Casey.
“There’s no money in art.”
“You’ll never have enough to leave home.”
Of course, I see the wisdom in it now, but back then it was devastating. I’d sold out, becoming the very thing my friends and I worked so hard to avoid through our efforts. I fought hard to find my way back to creativity in the early days of my career, but enough time and enough clashes head-on with reality eventually taught me what I needed to do to survive, and all the sketching and scribing ’til the wee hours of the morning became all but a distant memory.
Here I was in my twenties, convinced I’d become who I’d be for the rest of my life. I’d set myself up for a decidedly average life, walking the path both tested and true for the rest of my days, charting out an insignificant life for the rest of my days.
Or had it?
Destroy and Rebuild — or — How to Have Your Digital Cake and Eat it, TOO.
I honestly don’t know how things would’ve wound up had Twitter not found its way into my life. I didn’t get it all at first, but when I came across my first Twitter Wall and discovered its interactive potential, it changed my life forever.
And if you’ve been around awhile, the rest of the story should sound pretty familiar—boy finds his people, boy parties with his people, boy lives a life he never dreamed possible. But that same boy makes a bunch of money, boy starts a family, and that boy’s world gets turned upside-down. It’s been one heckuva journey since all of this started, but I think I’ve learned a thing or two along the way.
What we’ve been up to for years doesn’t work like it used to, and it’s time to do some re-thinking. So I’m breaking my brand down to its parts, making each of them just as amazing as what happens when they all work together. Just like a finely-tuned Rolex or under the hood of a luxury car, each part’s designed to maximise everything attached to them—not only the parts themselves.
So—to translate—that means there’s a lot to perfect behind the scenes before I can say that I’ve done my brand justice. Old posts that need a refresh with their images and tags. New posts consolidated from all the notes I’ve kept around for years. I’m finally taking responsibility for making something from all this content I’ve accumulated all around me, and I’d like to think 2019’s the year we finally see it.
REBUILD | Putting My Foundation Together, Brick by Ever-Loving Brick.
“This is my canvas…
I’ma paint how I wanna, babe—oh, I…
This is my canvas…
I’ma paint it, paint it, paint it how I wanna…”
— J. Cole “Apparently”, 2014 Forest Hills Drive (2014)
And so that’s it—no fancy new tricks or anything too mind-blowing for 2019; instead, I want to fill the gaps in my foundation so I can set my sights even higher. It’s easy enough to hustle without a plan, but when you haven’t done the core work needed to support your path to success, it’s just waiting to come crashing down when things get too tough.
“If you ain’t aim too high…
…then you aimed too low.”1
Thanks for reading, and until the next,
1J. Cole, “January 28th“, 2014 Forest Hills Drive (2014)