Consuming content about creation won’t make you a successful creator. It is a trap that leads to thinking there is a “right” way to create, thus preventing you from creating. Meta-creators (creators who create about creating) say the answer is in their newsletters, video courses, writing workshops, tweet threads, and productivity guides. These “answers” won’t do the creating for you but do distract you from creating. There are many ways to be successful as a creator, but the similarity between them is creation.
Meta-creation is popular because we like the idea of creating more than actually creating. Meta-creators help people indulge in these ideas without doing the work. The lack of action taken after consuming the content is proof of its lack of impact. The majority of improvement in creation comes from creation and iteration. Meta-creators fool aspiring creators into thinking otherwise.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.Richard Feynman
Meta-creators are the embodiment of what Steven Pressfield calls “the Resistance,” a universal force that wants to stop an individual’s creativity by any means necessary. The Resistance wants you to procrastinate, overthink, get distracted, and not create. Meta-creators, without realizing, help the Resistance achieve its goal.
If meta-creators were good, it would show in the long-term success of their followers. They could point to specific cases where followers increased their quantity and quality of work by applying what they learned. Their followers would credit the meta-creators as the source of their success. This rarely happens. Instead, meta-creators “prove” their success through the metrics of money, subscribers, followers, and attention, none of which help you create more.
Some tutorials and inspirations may help, but endless consumption is a trap. At best, it provides a short-term boost. Meta-creators should inspire or improve content creation. Feeling uninspired after consuming a meta-creator’s work is a bad sign. It is a sign to cut them off because they are wasting your time.
There are many alternatives to procrastinating with content about creation. Seek content that inspires you to take action. Look for advice from people you actually want to be like. An interview with a domain-specific expert often gives more insight than any meta-creator could give. Avoid people who aren’t creating what you want to be creating. Looks for ways to create a small version of the content, rather than consuming more. Try and see what works for you.
Next time you see a meta-creator trying to trap you into another course, article, or tweet thread, shut it off and create something. Do you think the creators you admire consume this stuff? Probably not, and neither should you.
Let me know what you think on Twitter.