Getting in my own way

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 3 min read

It felt really good to post 2 videos this week on A Better Computer. The first was a planned video about Up Ahead, an app I love, and the second was a surprise one about BBEdit since they added an interesting new feature. I'm proud of both videos, and I think the second one especially feels like old-school ABC to me because the feature came out on Tuesday, I made the video on Wednesday morning, and got the video up that same morning; it was lo-fi, but straight to the point and talks about something cool that many people may not have known about.

I say all this a few days after posting this to Mastodon:

I know it feels like my video production has slowed to a crawl, but what you haven't seen are all the videos I try to make, only to scream at my computer as the apps just aren't ready. I want to show new and exciting stuff you haven't seen yet, but man, software is hard and early-stage apps tend to be style over substance to start it seems. Amazing visual design on top of a house of cards 😭

This is absolutely true, I've started and dumped numerous videos in the past couple months because I was hoping to talk about something new and exciting, only to realize the more I dug into them that these apps just weren't ready for prime time and my video wouldn't be doing much to help viewers who want to learn about cool new apps, nor would it be useful (or even fair) to these people making the apps since they're just not ready for review.

But why is this a problem I keep running into? I think it's a simple matter of me getting in my own head about my channel. I recently crossed the 20,000 subscriber mark which felt great, but for whatever reason it got in my head that now I'm a "serious YouTuber" and each video needs to be great. With that lingering over me, I've felt like I can't go back and talk about apps I've already discussed and I need to find whatever else is out there on the bleeding edge today so I can share something truly novel. When I put those requirements in my own head, then the pressure builds for each video, the production time increases, and I start to look outside my comfort zone for apps and services that might not be fully cooked yet.

To be clear, this is totally irrational, and no one is putting these pressures on me except myself. This isn't Folding Ideas or hbomberguy where I do like 2 videos a year and they're absolute bangers, I'm someone who teaches people how to get a little more value from their computers using cool apps. That's not to say I'm less than those other channels (although they are great), just that people come to me for different things. I can make a short video with no script about some tiny little feature in an app and that can be exactly what people want from me, and that's great!

There's also the fact that additional planning and production value doesn't mean more success. In the two videos I posted this week, the one that I spent more time prepping for and editing is performing worse than the other one which was shot and edited in less than an hour (there is literally one cut in that whole video!). As I know very well from writing this blog for many years, it's rarely the posts you put the most time into that resonate the most with people.

I'm at my best when I'm in the groove, creatively. By showing up regularly and doing the work, I get that creative muscle warmed up, I settle nicely into a creative groove, and it makes doing the next video/post.etc. easier. There's nothing wrong with wanting the things I make to be good, but I can definitely take it too far to the point that I block myself from doing anything at all.