Akta: One of the reasons you wanted to become a creator was so that you could be creative, but is it something you are focused on? Lawrence is the writer behind the hugely popular newsletter and blog. More to that. One of his most popular blog posts, travel With No Cure For the Mind has had over 1 million readers, and his email list has over 26,000 subscribers.
But Lawrence isn't one for growth hacks and metrics. He's much more focused on his craft.
Lawrence: I knew thatI didn't wanna do the growth hack stuff and things of that nature because likeI was saying, I want to have a healthy relationship with my creativity.
Akta: And in this conversation he shares his thoughts on idea generation.
Storytelling and overcoming creative blocks and burnout.
Lawrence: Essentially,I write stories that kind of navigate the nuances of the human condition, and use philosophy, psychology. These, these topics are [00:01:00]these kind of disciplines as my frame. Um, but then I kind of imbue this with the playfulness cuz a lot of those topics could be very heady and very serious.
Um, so I inject kind of my inner child into it through the usage of illustrations and, um, these characters that I drew, like, I don't know when I was 10 or something like that, um, all the way till now. So it's, it turns out that all those doodles kind of had a professional usage, which is nice, but. I kind of like to combine those two realms together to create a combination of either long form stories or shorter form reflections that navigate all kinds of topics anywhere from money to uh, to our thoughts on death.
To, yeah. The finiteness of life meaning, and all these various things that, um, kind of fall under the umbrella of, of those, uh, of those frames.
Akta: Yeah. I love how much of a deep thinker you are. That's one of the reasons that I got draw onto your blog. [00:02:00] I'm interested why you chose a blog in the first place, like a blog and newsletter format for the way that you choose to tell stories.
Lawrence: Yeah. I, I think, you know, because before I was a musician, And I, um, you know, used that as a vehicle for expression, and I was a beat maker specifically. And I think the great thing about music is that it kind of, it the, the great, it's kind of like music is a double-edged sword in the sense of it's great because it allows you to channel your emotions and put that into your, your beats or your instrumentals and stuff like that.
Um, but the thing about it is that it's hard to convey ideas through it, especially if the medium doesn't make usage of lyrics and so for thin like it was in my case. So as I started transition out of music, And started looking more into other art forms. Um, I kind of started dabbling in writing and doing that through like a personal medium page, uh, years ago.
And I just enjoyed how it allowed me to really play with ideas as opposed to purely like a mood or emotion or something like that. And it's really, you know, I, I'm sure if many, as many writers will tell you, it's away to clarify your thinking. And like as you write, you actually think it's not. You think, think, think, and then you write.
It happens kind of concurrently and I really enjoy that dynamic and Given that I also, when I think back on it, I used to write a decent amount when I was a kid. I used to write fiction stories and stuff like that.And one thing I always tell people, if they're kind of looking at different art forms and what's what, what's one avenue of creative expression for them is what did you do when you were a kid?
Or what are some of the things, the kernels of things that you were doing when you were a kid, because that was when there were no other responsibilities, there was no notion of, is this practical? Where can this go?You know, like, what does a career path look like for me? It's just very [00:04:00] pure. And you want to find the element of purity that has pervaded your life.
And when you're thinking about how you might wanna express yourself as a, as a full grown adult with adult responsibilities and all that stuff, um, then it's a good place to start. Because then you understand that there's something inherently beautiful about it in the context of your life.Um, and then the career and stuff and all that, the strategies, you can kind of figure that out as it goes.
So when I thought about it in that sense too, I was like, ohyeah, it makes sense that writing is the way that I want to express myself at,at, at least for now. And you know, that may evolve, that may change, but Iknew that writing was gonna be something I wanted to experiment with and do it,uh, in a deep manner.
Akta: I love that.And I love what you said about how, you know, you, you just do what's kind ofpure to you because even your. Even the topics you talk about are so broadversus so many creators that I see online, they have this super specific nichebecause that's the advice that we get given. And then all their [00:05:00] topic ideas are like very specific.
But I feel like that's also more difficult for you because youcould almost talk about anything. So how do you come up with your ideas andknow which ideas you're actually gonna put out there?
Lawrence: I reallyjust go off of. Wherever my curiosity pulls me at, at any time, and like anyartist or creator will tell you their, their art is an extension of just theirday-to-day life.
Right. And I think that I, I like to. I think the thing aboutbeing an artist is that you kind of have to combine discipline and serendipitytogether. Um, because if you are pure disciplinarian then about whatever,whether it's idea discovery or what have you, then you know, everything justbecomes a job and it's all about, oh, I am.
You're investing my energy and expecting some sort of return,right? And it becomes a very transactional relationship with your creativity.On the flip side, if everything is serendipitous right, and [00:06:00] you're just like very whimsical, andanything that kind of fleets your way, you're like, Ooh, and you wanna grab it,and you don't ground that in any sort of regimen, then, um, you know, like theelement of practicality, it becomes more of an issue.
So, um, I think in, in my case, When it comes to just pure ideageneration and stuff, it's, it happens where really it's imbued intoserendipity. Like, okay, I'm, I've been thinking about something, or I have aconversation with someone about something interesting. And, um, there's athread that emerges from a book that I'm reading or something of that nature.
And I, I, all I wanna do is, I just wanna pull on it a littlefurther. And that's kind of how I view it as is that like we have all theseloose threads all around us no matter what we're doing. And it's up to oursense of agency to desire to pull on it or not. And yeah, that's all I'm reallydoing. Oh, that thread looks interesting.
And we have so many things in our life, right? Like you are notjust a creator. Like in my case, [00:07:00] I'ma father, I'm a husband, I'm a friend, I'm all these things. And. I think onething that's really important for me and, and what I recommend for people whenthey're struggling with this question of, you know, how do I find ideas?
How do I find compelling ones, is first, understand thisdiffusion of identity. You're not just a creator. You are all these differentthings and understanding that your identity is spread across these differentdomains. Then all of a sudden everything becomes interesting. Um, because whenyou're just thinking about, I need something to create, I need something todelve into and pull it out, then you're just stressing yourself out and you'renot really looking.
Yeah. But if you understand that there's something about yourday-to-day experience and everything that you do that has something ininteresting in it and that there's something beautiful about what you wouldotherwise, otherwise people would say is mundane, then all of a suddeneverything becomes a thread you want to pull on.
And, um, I, I, I say a lot that our, our [00:08:00] greatest asset as a creator is to kind ofbe grateful for the unknown, to be grateful for uncertainty instead of fearinguncertainty, which is kind of our default condition, which is actually veryclosely tied into our fear of death. But, um, if you, you are, if you have ahealthier relationship with uncertainty, then that's what curiosity is, right?
Isn't that what curiosity is, that you're thankful that youdon't know everything? And I, I think if you are able to cultivate thatconsistently in the context of your day-to-day life, then there will be a lotof ideas that emerge. And I think that's why my work is so, uh, diverse andtouches so many topics, and I have.
No desire whatsoever to create a niche or to, to find one thingand just hone in on that, because that's how I build an audience or somethinglike that. No, because for me, this is, this is, it's a lifestyle. It's, it'ssomething that I'm, I wanna do. Um, I, I want to keep playing this, thiscreativity game, [00:09:00] and the only wayfor me to do that is to have a healthy relationship with it.
Akta: love that somuch, and I find it interesting because you obviously draw a lot from your ownexperiences and you know your life around you, but when I read your writing, itdoesn't ever seem like you are writing, you know, just about yourself. You'rewriting to someone. So how do you make sure that you're writing.
Resonates with other people, and it's not just about your ownlife experiences.
Lawrence: I, I havethis belief that. Our, you know, any individual mind is not localized toitself. That, that whatever you may be experiencing, there is some sharedthread that could be had with anyone in, in the world, really. Um, I thinkabout this a lot, especially as, as a dad, where I am just doing something likechanging my daughter's diaper or I'm, I'm, you know, I'm just doing the dishesor something.
And the thought of like, there is someone out there that. E [00:10:00] either is in the heights of wealth or inthe depths of poverty. Um, and all of us, no matter who we are, we've had, wefeel this, we feel this, like this washing of dishes or, you know, likechanging your kids' diaper and like there's something really, uh, beautifulabout that.
I think the same thing applies to the things that we think,things that we feel, and if we, if I could better understand my mind and myexperiences, then I could understand humanity in general. I think that we'reall linked in that way, so when I come across an experience or an idea thatthat has come downstream from my life, one thing I love to do kind of almostimmediately is to think of like, oh, how can this, It could be extrapolated toeveryone and understanding that the emotions that I'm feeling as, as a resultof that experience has been felt by someone before.
And really what you're trying to do in that sense, and if [00:11:00] you want to have this idea of resonatewith, uh, with another, is you have to think about it in the context of a storyand. And like the way I view stories is not through like the Joseph CampbellHero's Journey and three Act structures and these things that kind of act asformulas that we nod our heads to, but don't really, I, I think if, if we'rereally being earnest, like, we're like, okay, hero's journey, cool, but Idon't, you know, unless I'm really trying to make it work, it's hard to seethat contextualized in my, in an everyday idea I have.
So I really condense it down to its simplest form, which is.Every idea inherent within it consists of some sort of problem that you'rethinking through and the notion of like the things that you highlight whenyou're taking out a book or things that you watch. You resonate with thembecause they address a problem.
Okay. So for example, if you look through any of my notebooks,you will never find anything about fashion in it. Okay? Because it will [00:12:00] only take you five seconds to hang outwith me to be like, man, this dude Lawrence, he doesn't care about fashion atall. You know? It'll be very apparent right away. And as a result, I don't haveanything that I've cultivated or anything that I've highlighted that has to dowith how I could dress better or anything like that.
But do I have a lot of things about, uh, yeah. What it means tocultivate meaning, um, and all these kinds of stuff? Yeah, a ton of that stuffbecause I, these are the problems that I care about. So when you, when youunderstand that every idea inherent in it, when you, when you're interested inaddresses some sort of issue or some sort of problem, Then what you're tryingto do in your story is you wanna first make your reader, your viewer, orwhatever, care about that problem as deeply as you do, as if it was visceral tothem as well.
So that's one of the, that's one of the core things about, um,creating a great story is that you have a problem that you resonate with. Andthen, [00:13:00] you know, people a lot of timethink about, think a lot about the resolution of a story, but, and I call thisthe takeaway. And I always tell people that the takeaway is not as important asthe, as addressing the problem and framing the problem well enough.
Right? And this is why whenever people read an entire book orwatch a movie, and they're like, oh, they could have condensed that whole thingdown to one sentence. It's like, no, you're not understanding the point of astory. The point of a story is not the ending. Otherwise, no one would watchMarvel movies or whatever knowing that the good guys win.
It's all about how you feel and, and do you resonate with thecharacters? Do you, do you feel like you're immersed in that world? And youcould do the same thing with a blog post or anything of that nature, or with aYouTube video. So get the person caring about the problem and somewhere in themiddle of going from problem to away have an aha moment where someone views theproblem in a unique angle where like, huh.
I never [00:14:00] thought ofthe problem in that way before, and that as a result, when you think about theproblem, when you present an issue in a new angle, then the reader or theviewer could come to the conclusion themselves, and that's a great storyactually, is when they have the agency to come across that solution on theirown.
That's a good story, which is why people love interpretiveendings, people. Don't really like clean cut things. You know, they, they wantto feel like I came to that myself. I could kind of see where this is going.And sometimes if it doesn't go where they thought it would go, it actuallyresonates with them more.
So I think if you, if you think about these elements ofstorytelling and not through kind of these. Huge principles that have beenpassed down to us generation or generation, just make it into the simplestform. I think that's what makes a, a story resonate.
Akta: And how do youactually go about doing that? So how do you actually go about making yourreader care about the problem?
[00:15:00] And you know, likehow, how do you actually go about doing that in your writing?
Lawrence: Yeah, so wecould use an example of, of one of my pieces and um, it's one of my morepopular ones called Travel Is No Cure For the Mind. I love that
Akta: post. Oh, nice.I'm always, I share that with my friends all the time.
Lawrence: Oh, that'sbeautiful.
Why, why do you, okay, I'll ask you first. Why, why do youshare that post with your friends?
Akta: I just thinkit's, So, I mean, when I was like figuring life out in my twenties, I feel likethe most common thing was, oh, you should travel, you should, you know, that'sthe common thing to do is traveling in your twenties.
And I, especially for me, like I have so many friends whotravel a lot more than I do. Like, I can't necessarily afford to travel as muchas they do, and I think I am missing out on life and my life is just like notinteresting enough because mm-hmm. You know, they've got all these coolexperiences and I'm just kind of like in my routine, you know, I'm quiteintroverted, so I'm always at home doing my own thing, like, and I think your.
Blog posts really made me open [00:16:00]my eyes to like, what, what is the traveler actually doing? And like, you know,it was the whole hedonic triangle thing and just all of that. Like, it made mesee it completely differently. And yeah, it just, yeah, it really opened myeyes and I think everyone eventually experiences that, whether like, oh, I'mtrying to chase this thing over and over again, but then it becomes like my newnormal and then it's not exciting anymore.
Lawrence: Mm. Okay,great. Thanks for sharing that. And I think that's what you just said, right?There is a good foundation for, um, me kind of speaking on this piece inspecific and how I got it to resonate through the, uh, through that framework Ijust described. So basically like what is the fundamental problem of, of thisstory, right?
And like you just gave a brief primer on it, but essentially thepiece is title travel is No Cure for the Mind. So you kinda have an idea ofwhere it's going and. The problem here is that like travel doesn't make ushappy, um, even though we, we think it will, um, and in, in momentary spurts [00:17:00] maybe, but I don't think it's the answerto what we think it is.
And so, okay. I have this problem of travel doesn't make ushappy now. Okay. Do I just say that? And you know, like, travel doesn't make ushappy, right? And as a result, this is what we should feel. No, that's not astory. So, Now that I have that problem, I think of, okay, what are somedifferent ways I could present that?
And, um, I thought a lot about, okay, what if. Knowing that,like you just said, this is something that we all will probably feel after sometime. Like we all know if we have gone to some country or somewhere for likecouple weeks, there's always this huge novelty spike, and then there's likethis kind of tail that emerges down to normalcy and then you kind of keep doingthat up and down, up and down.
But how do I wanna present that? Do I wanna use the wordhedonic treadmill? Not really. It's kind of played out so. How else can I do [00:18:00] this? Um, so then I was just thinkinglike, what, okay, what if I put the reader at the center of this story and thenI say, you the whole time, imagine that you are doing this, you are doing that,understanding that this is a phenomenon that many people will have experienced.
So if you read that piece, you'll notice that from thebeginning. I say you imagine that you are here in this kind of mundane officeenvironment or whatever. And kind of guiding them through that journey to havea realization themselves. So I'm really from the, from the first half of thepiece, maybe even 60%, I'm just building up the problem.
I'm not, I'm not getting to the takeaway at all. It's justabout, Hey, I want you to feel what it's like to wanna go, you know, you thinklife is, uh, mundane, so you wanna burst out of it by traveling, but you'relike, Uh, you know, you travel for a week on, on, uh, PTO or paid time off andyou come back to work and you're like, damn, this is not it.
I'm gonna just leave everything and leave for months. And youdo that, [00:19:00] but then what do you feel?Uh, yeah, it just feels like everyday life again. But I want you to feel it.And that's what I'm doing. And I'm also presenting like analogies like. Hey, imaginethat your life is this box of daily experience and you cycle through it overand over again.
I'm presenting these visuals and these analogies cuz they haalso analogies, metaphors, they stick very well. And I could do this allwithout mentioning things like the hedonic treadmill. People could understandthat without me having to reference that. And the aha moment that I describedand you know, kind of, and you.
And you feel it. You feel it, you feel it, you feel it. Andthen you realize the aha moment is. Oh damn. Travel doesn't make us happybecause our mind travels with us wherever we go. So if we have a restless mindin wherever we are at, doesn't matter whether you're in Ibiza, it doesn'tmatter whether you're in Seoul, whatever.
It travels with you. And if you ha, if that was restless,eventually it catches up. So, so you see [00:20:00]that's the aha moment. That's kind of the surprising element. But if I just saythat, it sounds like a cliche, I have to build to that. You have to feel ityourself. And then, and now that you understand that, it's like, oh, okay.
Now that I truly, I viscerally understand that reality, thatour mind travels with us wherever we go. Now the takeaways kind of like, okay,wait. The answers are not in these far away places. They're actually at home.And I have to understand what it's like to address a lot of these things athome and be grateful for what I have at home, because that's the only way youcould be grateful for everything else outside of home.
So, So you see how there's like this kind of, this train ofthought here guiding you from the station or the problem to the, to the stationor the takeaway and through that journey, I'm, I'm elucidating why travel is nocure for the mind. So that's an example of how I've kind of thought about thisstory and how I wanna present it.
I find it
Akta: reallyinteresting because you've completely [00:21:00]challenged everything I know about storytelling, especially online, where Ifeel like most people tell you to have a hook and share that problem straightaway and solve whatever it is that the person's come to you for straight away.So I really like how you've changed things.
I'm really interested to know what your. Process looks like. Soyour writing routine, because there's a lot that goes into every blog post,like, not even just the writing, the illustrations. How long does everythingtake you and how, how do you, you know, spread it out throughout the week?
Lawrence: Yeah, so inthe beginning, um, actually all of my pieces were like, travel is no cure forthe mind.
So the, like, just to give you an idea of that one, it tookprobably somewhere like a hundred hours to do. Um, from thinking about it todrawing, to, to writing it. So, um, and this might be a kind of lesson reallyfor other creators, is that like, when I, when I released that piece, I was [00:22:00] like, oh, okay, now I gotta do everythinglike that.
And so, like, I only published eight or nine pieces my entirefirst year of working on this. Granted I was. You know, I was working afull-time job then. Um, but I was, I believe this thought that, oh, okay, Ihave to keep doing it like this. So every piece is gonna take 80 to a hundredhours or something like that.
But I also knew that, um, at least in that first year, we'redoing it this way. It did help to kind of, um, differentiate some of my workcuz I, I knew that not a lot of people are spending that much time in a singleblog post. Especially if you don't know if it's, it'll be received well or whathave you.
But it was also my way of testing whether I wanted to do thisformat really, and I found a lot of enjoyment in it. But I think the lessonhere also is that I realize that this is not what I want to keep doing. And, [00:23:00] um, that it's okay to, you know, not be soholden to one type of thing and. Especially because travel is no cure for themind.
It did very well. A lot of people resonated with it and likethe temptation would be, well, I just do more of that. But the reality is like,you can do whatever you want. And um, and I think after my first year Irealized that more so I started doing shorter things along with longer things.Um, and then now it's pretty much to the point where I have a few long piecesthat I put out a year that take me a while.
Not quite a hundred hours, but maybe like 40, 50 or somethinglike that. Um, maybe even more. And then I, I also do a lot of shorter formpieces too, where I just sit at my desk, I set a timer for two hours, I writeand boom, it's done, and I let it out. Um, so I actually have a delineationwhere my longer pieces and my more thought out ones.
Where I'm thinking through the story and stuff like that, Ijust call [00:24:00] them stories. And the onesthat I kind of bang out in two or three hours, I call reflections cuz those aremore of my ways of figuring out what I think. And like I was telling, sayingearlier, writing is a way of figuring out what you think.
But when you're storytelling, you're thinking a lot aboutpresentation and as a result you kind of have an idea of what you wanna say. Astory is more about am I, am I. Presenting this well enough so a personunderstands it and they feel it. So there are two actually different modes. Andwhat's great is that my reflections help to inform my stories because thesetting out a timer for two hours and just writing that allows me to figure outwhat I think and in turn, figuring out what I think allows me to think later about,oh, how do I wanna present the fact that I thought that?
So it's this nice kind of loop. And as a result, now I have amixture of of those. So, I guess the parallel here for any creator could be. Ifyou have a thread that you wanna pull [00:25:00]on a little right, then feel free to use something where the stakes are a lotless for you, where it doesn't feel like you are presenting this.
And instead it's like, oh, okay, I'm just, I just wanna pull onit, but I want to use my art to pull on it. So I'm using my writing to pull onit, trying to untangle it a little bit. And then once you feel like you have itto a good place and you've also taken maybe some other threads that you'vepulled out and you're like, oh, damn, these kind of tie in and they link in.
Then you have, uh, some source material here that you can workwith, and you're like, all right, now it's about how do I present this? Andthen you can do that in the form of your, your art form as well. But then youcould devote more time and attention to doing that. So, Kind of, you know,don't be so Holden to one thing and it's okay to, to mess around with differentthings.
It's okay to just take an hour or less on what you're workingon, publish it. And it's also okay if you wanna spend more, much, more longerthan that, do that too. But, um, for me, I found that mixing it up has been areally nice way of, um, approaching this. Yeah,
Akta: I [00:26:00] like that because it also makes it moresustainable as well.
Um, yeah, I find it really interesting because you tweetedearlier this year that you're not one for growth tactics and hacks and justspeaking to you, I can definitely feel that already, but I'm really interestedbecause like you said, travel is no cure off the minded really well. So where havethe people come from?
Like how are people finding you
Lawrence: your work?Yeah, it's wild because it's pretty much all organic, word of mouth. Um,because I also don't do seo, so if I, if I don't do much social media, um, asof now at least, and I also don't do much seo, then the only way people findout about my work really is someone's like, oh, damn, this is good.
Let me share it with, with this other person, whether it'sthrough, I don't know, text or through someone's newsletter or what have you.And as a result, yeah, most of my audience comes to me that way. Now there's, [00:27:00] so things have actually shifted a littlebit in the last couple months because the, the email provider that I use, um,actually started doing this, this, this network where creators that could,could recommend one another.
Um, so creators that I've been friends with for a while, it'sjust, you know, some of who have been on this podcast are just like, oh yeah, Ilike Lawrence's work, and I like, I like his work or her work, and then we justkind of recommend one another and, you know, audience growth could happen thatway. But, um, up until then it was mostly just, oh yeah, people, peopleenjoying my work and, uh, wanting to share it.
Now it's also, I think, important that if you're. Let me take alittle step back here in the sense of, I knew that I didn't wanna do the growthhack stuff and things of that nature because, um, like I was saying, I want tohave a healthy relationship with my creativity and for some folks, The growthtactics and all that stuff [00:28:00] actuallymakes them feel like they are artists and they're creators like, oh, I'm, I'm,you know, like it's an art in itself to figure out how to grow and how to usethreads or whatever and stuff like that.
Um, now I just know that for me, I don't wanna take someone'stemplate and apply and then you apply it to me, to my work. That's just not howI feel like I'm going to love what I do. So if I know that I'm not the type ofperson that's going to go online and see like, what is, what is this persondoing and like, how can I copy that and put in my context?
If I know I'm not gonna do that, then the way in which that Iwant my work to reach people has to kind of be through the quality of the workin itself. And am I, and am I. Am I touching people through the, the resonanceof the piece and it's, it's, it's a little bit of a different game, but I thinkit's one, at least for me, [00:29:00] that Ilove.
I love playing because it makes me think about not just mylife, but you know, other people's lives and other people's experiences througha much more fine tuned lens. Because I'm trying to understand the humancondition. I'm, I'm not trying to understand how I get my blog to grow to Xamount of people or get my newsletter at this level or anything like that.
Um, and really if I could do that piece well enough, and what'sgreat also is that if I do that well enough, Other, not just like, not, notjust other readers but like also other people who create, find my work as well.And I think that's one of the interesting paradoxes about the creativelandscape is that, you know, anyone can create, especially now and, and publishmaterial and stuff like that.
But what's interesting is that people also have an immediateunderstanding for good quality work. Like people could see something right awayand then be like, oh, okay, like this one took time. As [00:30:00] opposed to this was like, oh, okay, this was probablydone in like a few minutes. Just, you know, just trying to get, try trying togrow or something like that.
Right. And, um, I think that's what I want my work to feellike, but it's not just pure hours and energy I spend, but also just like, oh,like this guy took time to think through this. And like, do they get the sensethat I've, I've thought through it a bit and, and, and put it out. And like, Ithink if I can do that well enough, then it's not just other readers, it's alsoother creators and then creators find out about my stuff, share it.
Um, like I don't know how you found out about my stuff, but youknow, I must have been through one of those channels. Um, and yeah, I thinkit's important to ask yourself, like, what game do you want to play here? Andif you even had all the growth that you wanted, right? Like what are you gonnado with it is the thing.
I think because [00:31:00]growth, you want growth for something there, there's no way that growth is anend in itself. It's always you, you grow to parlay that into something else. Idon't want to parlay my creativity for something else. It, it is what it is.Like it's the end in itself. And I think that the, the longer I could view itthat way, the more I want to keep playing, the more I want to continue to doit.
But if I always feel that, oh, I'm trading in today for this,imagine tomorrow based upon how I'm growing my work or what I'm doing here, I.Then I'm just perpetually waiting for something to arrive. True. True. Instead,instead, it's like what I'm doing right now. I've arrived, I'm here, and I'mI'm, and I'm working on something that is ch it's, I love it, but it's madchallenging.
It's super challenging, but it's the challenge that feelsworthwhile. And I think that's important too, is that creativity we, we thinkof it as like this. [00:32:00] This word like,oh, it's the best. It's the best, but it's nuanced, right? There are manycreative endeavors that are just not right for you, and it's like, and you haveto understand that, but sometimes you have to, you have to go through itbecause you're like, eh, the challenge that this texture of creativity isproviding, it's, it's not making me a better human being.
It's not making me a better person. And that's kind of what Ifelt when I was in the music industry is that after a while it's like, I lovemaking music, but. The business of this and to get it out. And like the way Iwas approaching it, it, it was not making me a better person, I felt. Um,whereas with writing, when I, when I decided to delve into this, like I, Ireally delved into a lot of intention because I had that experience with music whereI knew what I didn't want to do, and now I could like import some of thoselessons in what I do here.
And it made me really think about like, can I, can I fall inlove with the challenge that this art form presents? Um, and if the answer tothat is yes, [00:33:00] then I know I couldcontinue doing it. And that's one of the reasons why I spent so long on myfirst couple of blog posts for more of that, because I didn't know if anyonewas gonna look at it.
I didn't know if anyone was gonna read it. I had a, you know,zero, my audience number was zero. Well, but I, I first sent out that post to21 Friends, right. But like, effectively, I didn't know if anyone was gonnaread this or share it, but it was my way of testing. My, my love for this,like, can I spend this much time doing this?
And if the answer says yes, then maybe I could do this for awhile. So I think these are some of the questions to ask yourself as a, as acreator or someone even starting out as like, Hey, figure out the intrinsicmotivation piece first rather than the external validation piece. Figure thatout. And then, um, the external stuff like.
I think that when you love something and, and when you put somuch care into it, at a certain point, the external parts, some of those thingsstart to kind of [00:34:00] show up. Um, and I.And as a result at that point then, okay, yeah, you could be smart about like,oh yeah, okay, let me kind of pick the low hanging fruit here.
Or like if I, if I have a piece that I really put a lot ofenergy into, let me like send it out. And I do that too. Like I'll, if I workon a piece that I really enjoyed, And I feel like it's really good, then I'llsend it out to some of my creator friends right in advance and be like, Hey,this is something that I worked on.
I think you might like it. And, and, and kind of leave it atthat. And then, you know, if they enjoy it, then they'll share it or whatever.I have no expectations for them too. I, I just wanna share it. And, um, I thinkthat, that, what that does is like, it, it helps me feel like I'm, my work isintegrated with, with, with them.
And at the same time, like, I know that if they resonated withit then, then they'll help to, um, get it out there as well. But like, I don'texpect that, and I don't, I at this point, it's, it's more of just, I justwanna work on what I want to [00:35:00] workon. And, um, if people enjoy it, they, they'll share it. If they won't, if theydon't, they don't.
Um, it's all good. So I kind of have like this approach to it,uh, which is why when people ask me about audience building and how they do it,I'm like, I don't know if I'm the best person to ask. Um, cuz I don't know how,how practical this is except to, to what I offer is. Can you, um, delve alittle deeper into your motivations and why you're doing this and maybe take apause to understand that before you.
Go look for the next formula to follow, to grow your audience.
Akta: Wow, I lovethat. And I love how you are so focused on the craft and how you really nurtureyour relationship with creativity. It makes me wonder, do you ever strugglewith creative blocks or burnout? And if so, how do you overcome that?
Burnout. Oh, hot topic. Um, I think, well, the thing withburnout [00:36:00] is, um, it's funny, I actuallyjust wrote on this, but Oh yes, I wrote burnout. That piece is, what was that?The self-judgment piece? Yeah. Yes. Yeah, yeah. And that was an example of areflection, right? I just sat for two hours, I wrote it out and then let itfly.
Um, but people seem to have enjoyed that one as well. So Ithink with burnout, you know, it's. It's, it's not like this response to somuch on your plate. I think that's the, the, the generalization of burnout andwhy we think it emerges, but I think it's almost always has to do with yourselfand how you exploit yourself.
Um, and there's a lot of interesting philosophy around thatthat I won't delve into now, but a lot of it is kind of about, hmm, this, this,this person within you that is motivated by the desire for freedom. And then inorder to achieve that freedom, you [00:37:00]think I have to keep providing value, I have to keep providing value.
That's how I earn my freedom. But in reality, all that does isit makes you really hard on yourself, you. You, you actually don't need a bosstelling you what you do and don't do and, and do more. You'll do that toyourself just fine. Yeah. That's what burnout is. Um, and I think when Istruggle with burnout, um, it's always that, it's always that, and it's alwaysa reminder of like, yo, you are very mean to yourself right now.
You, you're being a total asshole to yourself. And, and you'renot understanding that there's also something inherently, um, about you outsideof this identity as a, as a creator that is worth celebrating. And can you takea, a quick moment to do that as mm-hmm. As hard as it may be. Can you try to [00:38:00] do that?
So whenever I feel the. You know, the slimy hands of burnoutstart to creep within my mind. Uh, what I try to do is I just for like, youknow, a day or something, I just kind of pause. Um, not because I don't need,I, I don't wanna work. That's not really what it is. It's more so because I, Iwanna remind myself that that's something about this day that we're, I'm notdedicating it to creating, but I'll walk away from it thinking like, oh, thatwas it.
That was a great day. Mm. And and why was it great? Well, it'sbecause there were all these other things that I did and like, you know, this,this chat I had with a friend or this book I read, or the time my daughtersmiled at me or I, I did this with my wife. Like, oh yeah, there's, thesethings are worth celebrating.
Um, and paradoxically enough like this, this links to yourfirst question about, you know, do I face creative blocks? I think. I thinkcreative blocks exist [00:39:00] only when you feellike you're trying to force something. When, when you feel like you don't,your, your gas is on empty, your tank is on empty, but you're just trying topush out that extra mile.
And, and the question always becomes like, what are you in arush for? Mm-hmm. What are you, what are you in a rush for here? Um, and thisis another thing too, is like, You know, we think we have to follow cadencesand, you know, that's fine. A lot of my, a lot of my friends do that. They havelike a weekly newsletter or stuff like that.
Um, but just because someone else does it doesn't mean you haveto do it. Okay. Like, sir, like, I, I don't follow a cadence for myself becauseI, and I've said this intentionally because I knew that if I set a cadence tomy work, then I'm, then I'm placing deadlines on my curiosity. It's like I haveto ship something before I've thought through it.
And if I, if I do that, then basically I'm always in a rush.Yeah. I feel like I'm [00:40:00] rushing. Yeah.I feel like I'm rushing and. Rushing and the feeling of rushing is driven byyour inner critic. Like, get that out, get that out, get that out, get that outand, and like you have that cycle enough and next thing you know, you haveburnout.
So it's not the impending deadline that does it, it's moreabout your inability, be kind to yourself. And a lot of these things come fromhow you structured your weeks, how you structure. What you have promised, quoteunquote, to, to people, right? So, um, never just take what someone has doneand think that that's the way you have to approach it.
Like it's always, it always comes downstream from who you areand what's important to you and what your values are. And. Does, does feelingrushed actually help you as a creator? Right? Some people thrive under that.They have deadlines, like, yeah, I just need to get it out, and that's whatinvigorates them.
Mm-hmm. But if you feel like [00:41:00]that actually detracts and that will make you feel like a shell of yourselfeach week to fulfill that, then please don't do it. Don't do it. Yeah. Becausewhat you get in that week of putting something out, you lose in the long game.You, you'll quit a lot faster if that's what you do.
So, I think if, you know you want to do this for a long time,then think about how, how do you structure your, your days in the short termand what you promise in order to encourage that longer time timeframe and, andgo with that accordingly. So yeah, I,
Akta: I love that. Ilove how you reframe so many. Oh, so many things that we've been told ascreators and you've given us like a i, I feel like a healthier approach oflooking at things, so thank you so much for that.
I'm gonna jump to a quick fire round now, so I'm gonna ask youfive questions I ask every creator that comes on air, starting with what's yourfavorite thing about being a creator?
Lawrence: Oh, myfavorite. My favorite thing [00:42:00] is justthe fact that I can confidently assert that I'm an artist. Uh, I think, Ithink, well, you know what I realized a lot of people have trouble with thatsaying that I'm an artist.
Yeah. I'm a, I'm a creator. Um, and I think a lot of it justhas to do with, uh, yeah, you feel like you have to fulfill some sort of listin order to say that you are like, I have to publish X things or do this orthat. But I think just being a creator and understanding that, hey, I'm anartist and embodying that identity, makes me view the world as.
I am an artist and it just, the world becomes a much moreinteresting place as a result. I
Akta: love that. Andwhat's something that gives you the most inspiration for your work?
Lawrence: Hmm. Themundane gives me a lot of inspiration. Ooh, I like that. Nice. Yeah. Um, andthe, the fact that. Yeah, like I, I, I'm inspired just sitting on my couchsometimes just, [00:43:00] and just looking atsomething or, or thinking about something.
Um, and the fact that there is so much beauty in what we wouldsee as ex as ordinary, um, and my, I think I have a more heightened ability todo that. Um, just because I, I, I, I guess I write and I think writers all havethat. You kind of. Find the beauty and the mundane. Yeah. Um, and yeah, itconstantly inspires me.
Akta: Nice. Andwhat's one tool that helps you? Great.
Lawrence: Oh, okay.The greatest tool for me is this thing you could find for free. It's calledCold Turkey Rider. I, um, I, I recommend this to everybody. Basically, it justturns your computer into a typewriter for X amount of hours. Oh, nice. Or a, aword count. Yeah.
Whatever you have. And you really can't do anything but writewhen you're, when you're in it, and it limits context switching. Um, and whatyou'll find real quick as a result of that is [00:44:00]sometimes you, as you write, you're like, Yeah, we had this compulsion to wannalike look something up. Yeah. And do some research or something like that.
But sometimes a lot of that is because you don't haveconfidence in what you're writing and you want to look for someone else tovalidate that thought. But what cold Turkey writer helps you do is it helps youstay in there. So you kind of either have to just write your way through it ormaybe put a blank in there saying, I'll look at this later.
But, um, it keeps you focused on what you think. Yeah. Not whatanother person thinks. So I, I like the constraints that it puts on that, andit, I think it, it really helps with, uh, with writing.
Akta: That's awesome.I'm definitely gonna check that out. Um, what's something that helps with yourcreator work-life balance?
Lawrence: Create awork-life balance? Hmm. Um, well, I, the, the most obvious one is that I'm afather. So, you know, like, [00:45:00] uh, nomatter what I'm doing, if. Yeah, if my, if my daughter runs into my room andlike, she's actually pretty good with like some, somehow she knows that whenI'm in this room and door's closed, like, oh, he's like doing stuff there.
Like, there's like a force field around it where she likerepels off of. But sometimes she breaks through that forest field and justlike, comes in and like, wants to hang out. And it's just like a very immediatereminder that like, oh yeah, you know, there's this, there's this beautifullittle being here that, um, that, that reminds me that, you know, whatever I'mtyping on the page could be on hold.
So, uh, that, that always helps and not just helps, but it, itconfirms that that is reality. Yeah. And to, to view it as such.
Akta: What a greatreminder. And what's one piece of advice that you would give to other creators?
Lawrence: Um, I feellike I've been like, just blur out a bunch of different things for creatorshere.
Um, but yeah, if I were to, if I were to really boil it down, Ithink, um, I, the [00:46:00] first is like,you, you want to, you want to do this for a while, right? Like, this is somethingthat it, it inspires you. Um, But also like, just kind of be open to the factthat like, whatever you're doing now may not be it. You know, like I think, um,we, it's like, oh, I'm writing right now, but like, and I might be so attachedto my identity as a writer, but who knows?
Like, maybe I won't be, maybe my mode of expression will take adifferent form. Um, and I don't know where that will go. Like, I don't know iffor, for you, even like you, even a couple years ago, you're like, I'm gonna bepodcasting, right? It's like you don't, you probably don't know. You just don'tknow. It just, it just happens.
But like the more open you are to these different avenues, theless you, you are so fixated on, on one thing. So I think the, the meta levelyou wanna con, you wanna be, you wanna be creating for a long, for a long time,ideally for your whole life. But at the micro level, be open to the fact thatyour mode of [00:47:00] expressing that big,that big word creativity can change.
Um, and that gives you a healthier relationship with it aswell. Mm. I
Akta: think that's agreat way to end the podcast. I think this has been such an interesting.Podcast conversation. I feel like you've really spun creativity in such abeautiful way. So thank you so much for coming on air and giving our listenerssomething
Lawrence: to thinkabout.
Yeah, I, I'm really, really happy to be here with you. It's,it's really exciting. So thank you for having me on. If
Akta: you are acreator and you do sponsorships, check out passion fruit. We streamline yourentire workflow for you. I'll see you in the next one.