From “Creative Calling” by Chase Jarvis:
“I explained that my philosophy was always to work on things that were deeply personal to me and on either end of the spectrum: gritty, cheap, and raw or polished and precise. To me, everything in the middle—“best practices” and “industry standards” and “whatever the competition is doing”—created forgettable results. I felt pretty insightful until Alex revealed that he’d called his hotel the Ace because that card is simultaneously the lowest and highest in the deck. Genius.”
Chase’s philosophy reminded me of the concept of stock and flow for creative work. From Robin Sloan:
Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that reminds people you exist.
Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the content you produce that’s as interesting in two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what people discover via search. It’s what spreads slowly but surely, building fans over time.
The ace can represent both of these things.
The ace can be the highest card in the deck, the stock, the work that takes the longest and will be busted and re-visited by people for weeks, months, years into the future.
The ace can be the lowest card in the deck, the flow, the documentation that is easy to produce but helps you stay in touch with your audience.
That ace can be combined with other lowly cards to create a straight. A strong hand depending what you’re playing.
Being in the middle risks spending a lot of time polishing something people will forget about within a couple taps and a scroll.
- Don’t spend an hour editing a 15-second check in
- Only one rib in the BBQ contest will get judged, so pick and polish that one
- People might miss your single tweet, so find different ways to share the core idea
An ace mindset keeps you away from the middle.