“It’s all so obvious. Everyone knows this already”.
Remember that what’s obvious to you isn’t obvious to others. Every day people are fascinated, intrigued, inspired and amazed by things that someone else thought was obvious but they shared anyway.
When you share your thoughts and ideas and learning online, you share with folks at completely different points in their journey, and in wildly different contexts to yours.
Sure, some people will skim what you’ve written and click away. But your “obvious” words will be a lightning bolt for others, and exactly what they needed to read right then.
If you’re writing up your PhD, you might feel under pressure to write something so inspired that it advances the collective knowledge of your profession. For the rest of us, there’s no shame in being a little basic.
“This has been said before, it’s nothing new”
Sure, there is nothing new under the sun. So what? I don’t hear the publishing industry grinding to a halt. French writer Andre Gide once wrote:
“Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no-one was listening, everything must be said again”.
I love that quote. And it reminds me of something I often repeat to myself- “there’s no such thing as overcommunication”.
Maybe first time round some people weren’t there to hear it. And some weren’t listening. Some people didn’t understand what was said and needed it to be explained differently. Maybe the language didn’t resonate for everyone. And some people won’t have listened all the way to the end. Plenty won’t have had the cognitive bandwidth at the time to process what they were hearing. And of course many of the people who listened and understood it will have since forgotten.
There’s so much great writing out there, so many fantastic ideas. But because we don’t have the collective consciousness of the Borg, there’s still plenty of room for you to write about things that have been written about before.
“What can I say that X hasn’t already said?”
What can I say about service design that hasn’t already said? Or about policy design? Or about building teams? Or about digital transformation? Or about product leadership?
In each of these spaces, I’m surrounded by insightful and talented writers in their respective professions and fields.
Surely there can’t be anything left to say? No intellectual territory left undiscussed. No room or value for a new framing, no unexplored niches.
You might think so. But you’d be surprised. Let me give you an example.
These books are all broadly in the same space. And before Kate published, we might have struggled to see where there was room for another book. But now Kate’s book is out, it’s obvious the gap was there. Kate’s specific knowledge, experience and voice combined to show us something we thought we knew already. She pushes us to revisit it, to think more deeply about it, to view it from a range of additional perspectives. We find ourselves looking at something familiar whilst seeing something different.
This isn’t a superpower that Kate has. It’s what comes with finding your voice.
Follow your passions, your frustrations, your intrigues, and see where they take you. Then share how you see it, in your world and in your own words.
You might believe everything has been said by voices more expert than yours but, trust me, your perspective is just as valid as theirs. And, if your context and lived experience is underrepresented in what’s written about your topic, then your contribution to our collective understanding will be more valuable than most. We desperately need to hear your voice. Indeed, we’ll never have better than a myopic view of our world while writers from minoritised communities are as undersupported, discouraged and actively excluded as they are today.
Yeah but…I don’t really have anything worth sharing
You don’t have to cover new territory, nor share a startling new insight, nor push the boundaries of knowledge in your domain.
Whatever you feel passionate enough to write about is worthwhile.
Your voice, your unique perspective, makes it so.
Those published authors, those prominent thought leaders – they were just like you once. Like them, you should credit the work you’re building on – but remember they’re just standing on the shoulders of predecessors too.
They didn’t let that stop them sharing their thinking. Neither should you.