4 years is not too many


Seth Godin’s book, Practice, probably saved me from an unlimited number of years of doubt.

Here’s the section I’m talking about:

193. How Many Years Is Too Many

(I paraphrased a few paragraphs of that section here. Read the book if you want the whole context).

Robert Caro, author of some of the most important biographies of the twentieth century, almost didn’t finish his first magnum opus, The Power Broker.

One day, he was given a key to a back room at the New York Public Library. Only eleven writers had keys, and each was given a desk to write.

At that time, Robert has been working on The Power Broker for 5 years.

In this back room, Robert learned that his idols had spent even more time on their books.

  • James Flexner has been working on Washington for 9 years.
  • Joe Lash said Eleanor and Franklin took him 7 years.

Robert said “in a couple of sentences, these two men had wiped away five years of doubt”

I don’t know any of these men nor have I read their books

But just reading this section made me feel that the 4 years I spent on Learn JavaScript isn’t that long after all.

And I can drop my doubts about being a lousy creator and finally move on.

Before you go ahead and think Learn JavaScript sucks, it’s actually my greatest work so far. There are plenty of amazing testimonials.

Releasing the doubt

Somewhere in the recesses of my heart, I’ve labeled Learn JavaScript as a failure because it took way longer than I imagined it would be — 4 years instead of 3 or even 6 months!

I’ve been prioritising this “failure” viewpoint over other viewpoints (like the impact it made for people who took it).

I dismissed the great reviews and the thank-yous I received from this piece of work.

And I condemned myself unknowingly.

The fear of this sort of failure had seeped into the way I’ve created since then.

I finally noticed this today. Which means I can do something about it now. So I sense the beginnings of something new.

Maybe my next magnum opus doesn’t need to take that much time. Maybe it does. Who knows. The amount of time it takes isn’t that big of a factor in my calculations any more.

Thanks, Seth. You’ve just helped me unlock something that I couldn’t have done without your help.

Thank you. Sincerely. From the bottom of my heart. Thank you.

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