Word Count: 1,100 | Time to Read: 10 Minutes | Time to Write: 30 Years
Ever since I was young, I had this strange little fetish for counting things.
The clouds in the sky.
The freckles on my toes.
The tiny fluorescent squares that dotted the wallpaper in my nana’s spare bedroom.
It should come as no surprise then that I’d keep track of how many words I’ve written since flipping the “open sign” on my copywriting biz half a decade ago.
1,000,000 to be exact.
Not an impossible feat.
As anticlimactic as the final frame of that pretentious indie film that sweeps Sundance every year.
So what happens when you hit a million words?
Google docs doesn’t shower you with a cute little animation.
The Starbucks baristas don’t drop confetti all over your table before presenting you with a special, 20-year Mermaid blend (hint: it’s the tears that make it sweet).
If left to its own devices, Spotify won’t even cue up the “perfect” celebration song (Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” comes to mind).
Instead, I was greeted by Sympathy for the Devil, a complimentary Pike refill, and a 2pm liver punch at the local pub to salvage some sense of celebration.
Except for maybe how it was done.
Written with transparent hands.
The writer, vacant.
A ghost lurking deep within the pixelized fabric of a google doc, ready to sign off as whichever client was cool enough to keep the organic kombucha flowing that month.
Now there’s nothing extraordinary about signing off as the appropriate sender.
In fact, as any copywriter will tell you, that’s par for the course.
But a deeper inquiry into WHY us copywriters are so comfortable (and maybe even MORE comfortable) leasing out our most vital expression tells a much juicier tale.
Looking back, even my screenplays were penned under a pseudonym.
A badass concoction formed by combining my musical tastes of the day with the German translation of my last name.
Since then, I’ve been signing off as all sorts of people.
My personal heroes.
Shapeshifters, business leaders, and entrepreneurial badasses, who just like the women of my youth, bypassed their better judgement, to give these translucent hands a fair shot.
I can only guess what their experience of that exchange was…
Trusting some random dude in a Montreal Starbucks to take co-ownership of their most precious (and personal) asset.
I mean… holy sh*t…
I’m humbled by the insane amount of courage that’s gotta take.
And that’s about as far as I can go in relating their experience.
For now, I can only try and pierce deeper into my own, and try to find some sort of inner resolution around the biggest question of’em all…
Ego or Egolessness?
There’s a paradox.
On one hand, there’s the egolessness in denying absolute ownership over ideas, insights and the words that express them.
Allowing them to gently pass through you.
A selfless midwife to the miraculous act of creation.
But on the other, it’s the ego’s ultimate shielding.
A cowering behind another name.
A refusal to stand by your own thoughts.
To be exposed to the pricks and probes of the interwebs…
An inner barricading against the pitch-forked mob, waving their torches at your digital door.
I still don’t know where i land on the spectrum of the heroic and the cowardly.
But I do hear my call to adventure quite loudly.
Moreover, I’m ready to answer it.
So why this blog and why now?
1. The Need for Expression:
Leading with the biggest.
My friend, and entrepreneurial spirit animal, Scott Oldford has said many a brilliant thing.
The one that won me over was some inevitably-butchered spin on the following:
And I paraphrase…
“As humans and entrepreneurs, we have this deep need for expression. To see our ideas, insights, visions, and solutions land in the hearts and minds of those most ready to hear em”.
I don’t believe this need is negotiable.
This was confirmed to me two years when I lay half-paralyzed on a couch for 30 minutes as my right brain hemisphere taunted me with what it would be like to no longer be able to express again.
Since the stroke, I’ve been fueled by an ethos I call “full expression”.
Which at its core is nothing but a radical commitment to not allowing a single burst of creative insight to go unexpressed.
I don’t believe in limited creative bandwidth.
But I do believe that we self-limit our capacity to express it.
This blog will be my weekly bicep curl in a quest to amplify (or at the very least, avoid atrophying) the “muscle” I consider no less vital than the one tucked to the left side of my chest.
2. Deep Empathy:
For my clients.
To have greater empathy and appreciation for their courage.
Their willingness to be on the front lines of the battles needed to push their respective industries forward.
To honor their own egolessness.
The egolessness that invited me to pen 1,000,000 words under their names, while reaching the inboxes of tens of millions of people in the process.
They hooked my voice up to a 2,000 watt Marshall stack…
… and gave me carte-fucking-blanche to play the right chords in the right sequence to bring Wembley to its feet.
I’m sorry if I ever underestimated that privilege.
And I assure you… with each word, I’ve felt the weight of your audience’s pains… and your unending mission to meet it.
3. An Experiment (And Exercise in Trust):
Any amount of success I’ve achieved, has not been the result of meticulous planning or pinpoint precision.
But my trust and availability to an ever-unfolding purpose.
Radical honesty to the moment.
And the ability to meet each new arising with my own fullest expression.
Despite my resistance, the process hasn’t let me down.
And now’s the time to double down on that trust.
To take ownership over my next million words… and dare to see what unfolds from there.
Who it will attract into my world — who it will repel —
The angry mobs with their pixelized pitchforks…
Or the friends and allies eager to share a leg of the journey.
All I know is, it’s a journey worth bleeding for.
And so begins the journey to the next million.
As the great 4th century BCE blogger, Lao Tzu once said…
“The journey to a million words starts with a single stroke of a macbook air”
So here’s to the next million words…
… the eyes they reach
… the hearts they touch
… the lives they may change.
And of course…
The “ghost” (finally) willing to leave a trace.
Peace, Love and Xpression,