6 things to know about writing epic sh*t

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Your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it. Your art is the act of taking personal responsibility, challenging the status quo, and changing people. — Seth Godin

1

If you spend time online blogging and/or creating, sooner or later you’ll run across the advice to write epic shit, which is part of creating cool shit, which is part of being awesome.

All of which helps you stand out against the noise.

I love that advice, even if it seems incomplete. Not only does it appeal to the go-big-or-stay-home part of my soul (plastered with motivational posters), I think it’s true. When you look at the A-listers who set themselves apart from the rest, you see it wasn’t just perseverance that got them there. They have the charisma and curve appeal that comes from being epic. They embody what they do, because what they do is who they are and nobody else could be a Danielle Laporte or Gary V or Seth Godin or Marie Forleo in the same way.

Which doesn’t stop people from trying.

Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You figure out who you are partly by imitating those who attract you and noticing the places where your style falls away from theirs – and then exploring ( and exploiting) those points of difference.

2

Success leaves a trail. It’s human nature to study those who have gone before, figure out how they did what they did, codify, package and serve up to the masses. But anything that depends upon a logical analysis of existing evidence is not only evident to you – but also to everybody else.

Which means that everybody starts doing the same things.

Which overlooks the fact that when the A-listers were doing them, nobody else was –

– which is part of what made them epic in the first place.

3

Epic doesn’t rely upon a prefabricated blueprint (although it soaks up as much learning as it can from whatever blueprints are out there). Epic understands that it has to go someplace new, feeling its way through uncharted territory by the light of its own intuition.

Epic is an artist, bringing all of its values to work, pushing the extremes of personality, slapping a soulprint on the world.

4

I’ve blogged before about my belief in a sweetspot where you and your audience overlap each other, become one: writing for you is writing for them and vice-versa.

There’s a point where you represent something bigger than yourself.

You embody the values and aspirations of your tribe, be it a subset of the culture or an entire generation. People look at you and see something that they are – and something that they want to be. They see a doorway to an aspect of their own self-actualization.

5

Many of us decide to blog – and then try and figure out what to blog about. Ideally you reverse the order: you have a message so epic that it compels you to bring it as only you can.

Epic is about bringing it.

Epic is about showing unique awe-inspiring value.

Epic is about provoking and illuminating and being insanely useful and reaching people emotionally and shifting the paradigm.

Epic is scary. It moves you outside your comfort zone. Instead of following a leader, you are the leader, and the only thing to follow is the voice at your core, your actions and mistakes and triumphs and feedback.

6

What could you blog about that would change someone’s life? Their way of thinking or doing or being in the world?

Except I think there’s a better question to ask. In the end, we teach what we most need to learn (the best way to learn anything is to teach it to others). In the end, you are your audience.

What could you blog about – or write or paint or code or build out – that would change your life? That would be something you embody but also challenge you to learn, stretch and grow?

We need those stories, your stories, because they inspire us to go out and make our own.

After a lifetime of fitting in, we give ourselves permission to stand out. click to tweet

And that is awesome.

Apr 19, 2013
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10 comments · Add Yours

There’s just so much to love here, but this in particular: “We need those stories, your stories, because they inspire us to go out and make our own. After a lifetime of fitting in, we give ourselves permission to stand out.”

Thank you for that.

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Great stuff. Write with confidence. Bravado even. Do not go gently into that good sentence. ARRRGGGHHH!.

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I’m kind of falling in love with your writing, Justine.

I came across the “write epic shit” article a long time ago. Honestly, it mostly made me feel highly inadequate, put a lot of pressure on my writing and enabled my inner perfectionnist. Not good.

In the last few months, I thought a lot about the concepts of voice and audience. I found out the place I wanted to write from, which is authenticity. In the carefully curated world of blogs, where everybody wants to be seen as an authority & expert, I decided I wanted to share the beautiful and the bad. The joyful and the painful.

I want my experiences to serve people, and I want my stories to be true. I want, as you say, embody what I do (which is, mostly, creative work).

Thank you so much for your writing. It nourishes my thinking about self-expression and art in a way you can’t imagine.

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“There’s a point where you represent something bigger than yourself. You embody the values and aspirations of your tribe, be it a subset of the culture or an entire generation. People look at you and see something that they are – and something that they want to be. They see a doorway to an aspect of their own self-actualization.”

Brilliant.

And exactly what I needed to give me that extra push to finally finish editing this 5,000+ word blogpost I’ve been working on forever..

Thanks! ^_^

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This makes me feel better about a series I’m doing on my blog that was making me feel a tad uncomfortable, because putting yourself in a position if teacher is freaking irrationally (?) scary, but that’s the sign that I’m “out of my comfort zone”, and not such a bad thing. Another great post, Justine.

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Epic goes beyond the usual in size and scope, which is realy hard to do. Why is The Lord of the Rings epic? Because Tolkein wrote an epic story from his heart, even though he and the publisher thought it would never sell. It did sell, because Tolkein revealed truth in a way not done before or since.

Epic is a 400 foot home run to win the game. A four touchdown comeback in the final six minutes.The Thrilla in Manilla…

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Of course it’s hard to do. Epic is about impact and depth, not necessarily length.

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Justine, I always love your writing and your insights. Here’s to more epic…and being the leader ;-)

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Justine, your writing is an absolute delight to read. And – very informative for a blogger.

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