The post-after-next effect

The Jan 14th, 2021 review

Some of the most common advice you get as a writer is that "persistence is main ingredient for success." That confidence is motivating until you try putting your first big piece or two out there, at which point you start wishing something outside of persistence was the secret ingredient instead.

A few months into my writing experiment, I'm pleased to report that it seems a critical caveat was missing - write about your curiosities and it will get easier to be persistent over time. There's this virtuous loop that comes from the struggle of those early posts. Distilling thoughts onto paper makes you realize they weren't as clear as you thought, but when you do that distillation becomes a building block to use for subsequent pieces.

In the past two months I published A teardown of Spotify's podcast integration to talk about how the seamless integration is also a bet towards creator-fueled discovery of audio. I wanted to dig even more into how great products solve emotional pains, so I wrote Toucan: effortless language learning and a lesson in building truly empathetic products. In Crypto art, from to buying stock in Beyonce I set out to write about another compelling product but couldn't help but follow the thread towards the evolving relationship between online creators and their audiences more generally. That's when Substack (where we write The Product Kitchen) launched their Reader app, and I wrote Substack's first big miss? because I felt the V1 showed a path towards a potential future where Substack misses out on the opportunities to really take the creator<>audience newsletter relationship forward.

Through all of that, my view of the changing role of the online audience was taking form. So I wrote The audience grows the creator, part 1 to lay out a simple framework that I could start building on. The first build was Updates to the Substack Reader, and Twitter's curation as a service an example of the opportunity and challenge of building audience-enabled discovery, and the huge opportunity for Twitter as as result. I also wrote it because I needed the "curation is a scare resource in online knowledge" argument for a bigger piece on science I'm writing sometime soon.

It's not linear by any means, but I'm starting to experience this thing which I guess you could call the "post after next effect." The current piece sort of "in the way" of where I am and what's in my head. Getting it out of the way is somehow easier than writing as if there's nothing after it. That's a pretty fundamental change to where I was when I started, and I'm deeply grateful to everyone who has supported me along the way so far.