Be Vanilla (Part One)

Ever since I started recommending The Dip by Seth Godin, people have been asking about my opinions on this theory as it pertains to publishing, so I want to take a second to write down some of those thoughts.

First of all, if you haven't read The Dip yet, I highly recommend it. I won't tell you all of his theory because, frankly, it's his theory and you should read the book if you want to know all about it. But the “Becca's Notes” version of the concept of The Dip is that some things are worth quitting because you're never going to be as successful at them as you want to be, and some things aren't worth quitting ever, because you have the capacity to get what you want, if you only have the will. That last word is the important part of The Dip because, of course, most of us don't actually have the will to get what we want.

I know, I know. You're all rankling right now, but that's the essential pain of life. Most of us really want things that we're not willing to put in the work to get, and that's okay. It's not like anyone is alone in that. It's a huge portion of the population. But Godin is not wrong when he says that most people will quit before they really start to reap the benefits of going through the slog of sucking before they hit the peak of excellence.

So, as it pertains to publishing, you've all been asking me, what are you thinking, recommending this book to so many people? Do you intend to have us all quit writing? Do you think there are people out there who should quit writing? Are you trying to be that person, Becca?

First of all, let me say, I've taught the popular Write Better-Faster class for almost three years now, and I've taught or coached thousands of writers over the last five years. I've seen it all. But I haven't seen many people who think they should quit writing who really should. There are other things I think we should quit, but I'll get to that later.

So, no, I don't think everyone should quit being a writer. And I don't think Seth Godin is saying that, either. Yet, in my conversations with writers about this book, that's the most consistent question that comes up. Becca, if I can't be Vanilla (our code for #1 in the world), does that mean I shouldn't even try?

For a lot of the writers I was talking to, the message just wasn't resonating.

I loved Godin's book, but I think it's one of those things that isn't going to resonate with everyone. He's talking to people who have an intense desire to be at the top of their game. So, first of all, if you have the intense desire to be at the top of your “world” in writing (whether that's a subgenre or a genre or a niche or a market or a category or a group… whatever your “world” looks like), then yes, you should read this book right now. Because if you are in The Dip, then you need the encouragement to stay there, and slog through, and get to the top.

And if you are not in the right Dip, then you need to know for sure that you need to quit right now and pivot to a place where you can own your world. But as one of the students in the Strengths for Writers Beta class so astutely pointed out to me in an email the other day: not everyone is writing because they need to be the best. This is so much truth. And if you don't have that desire (QTP, right, Becca?), then you don't need this book.

But if you do need this book, and you're reading it, then you're probably wondering about whether or not you're in The Dip right now, or you're in the right Dip. Should you stick it through, or quit right now? How do you tell? So, here are my thoughts about this.

Should everyone who isn't #1 in a genre quit writing?
No. Not everyone needs to be #1, first of all. And not everyone wants the extreme benefit that comes from being #1. (Again, read the book if you want to know.)

Should everyone who thinks they can't be #1 in a genre quit writing?
No. Like Godin talks about, a “genre” might be too big of a “world” for you. You might do better making your own way and owning that niche or sub-genre. 

Should people who aren't great writers today never start writing in the first place?
No. This is definitely not the case. We all need to learn to release FOMO, first of all. The Kindle Gold Rush might be coming to a close (see other future articles for why I think this is true), but there will always be plenty of time to break in, if you've got the talent, the will, and (of course) the right timing.

No one should quit unless they just don't have the talent or the will.

So now that we've cleared that up, let's move on to Part Two of my thoughts on The Dip, because of course, I have plenty more to say.

Leave a Comment:

Crystal Johnston says October 2, 2018

Is there a way to increase my drive to “want” to be at the top? What are some things I could do if “achievement” isn’t high in my strengths top ten?

    Becca says October 3, 2018

    I’m not sure that everyone needs to want to be at the top. Everyone wants different things. If your desire is something else, then this may not be a book that’s necessary for you. (Unless you need something or want something you can only get by being #1.) 🙂

Caleb says November 24, 2018

Another good one.

    Becca says November 24, 2018

    So glad you enjoyed this book. It’s fantastic.

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