Perfectionism, Casey Neistat, and Creativity

I’m trying a new experiment. Each morning, I’m going to begin my day by writing a 30-minute mini-essay on whatever is on my mind. I’ve started an actual timer, and I’m going to see how it goes. Because of the time-bound, these will largely be streams of consciousness with minimal editing. So I’m calling each one a Stream.


The reason I’m doing this is to try and tackle my procrastination & perfectionism around sharing my creative output. Like many creators, I’m hesitant of letting anyone actually see anything I’m working on until I feel it is in some elusive, finished, “polished” state. The problem is that state always exists in the future, so I never actually share anything in the present.

One of my favorite little creatively-motivating coffee-table books is Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon. It’s simple and authentic. One of the most helpful tips in that book is that creativity needs bounds in order to be truly completed. Painters need to choose only a couple colors to work with, or a defined size of easel. With no bounds, everything is infinite. Infinity is indistinguishable from nothingness. Edges bestow existence.

So I’m giving myself a bound — in this case, time. 30 minutes. No matter what, each day, I will publish what I write. I will do my best to have it be well-written and not have errors, but surely some will get through. But I’ll actually be publishing, which is all that matters. Ultimately, it’s a practice in will and fear.

The other main impetus to this exercise has been watching Casey Neistat videos on YouTube. I stumbled onto Casey a few weeks ago when I was researching electric skateboards. He’s basically a guy who makes daily video logs of his life, and then edits them into entertaining mini-movies. I’ve now come to realize I’m quite late to the Casey-train, and he’s one of the most popular YouTubers in the world.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about what makes Casey’s videos so entertaining (they all get millions of views), and I’ve narrowed it down to a couple things. One, Casey is just an interesting dude. He’s smart and lives an exciting life. He’s always traveling, speaking at events, running his tech company, and zipping around NYC on his skateboard running into people who know who he is. Watching his videos kind of makes it feel like you’re living his life for 10 minutes. Second, Casey’s a great videographer and editor. He knows what not to include in his final upload, so all you get is one entertaining clip after another, with awesome music and drone shots interspersed.

But more than anything, he actually does these videos everyday, establishing a daily connection with his audience. For many of his viewers, watching his vlog is part of their daily routine. And therein lies what I’m most fascinated about. He treats his life as art, and it appears to give him a state of consciousness where he attempts to maximize all his moment-to-moment experiences in order to share them with the world.

I want to do something similar. I don’t know if I’ll ever get into video-making, but I do want to get into posting creative work daily. So I’m starting with writing. Raw, unfiltered thoughts for an increasingly raw, unfiltered world. I don’t want to look back at life and see flawless emptiness, but instead see it filled with flawed (yet honest) expression.

I only have a minute left. These will always be short because I don’t have much time, but I’m curious to see who reads them. Until tomorrow.