killing your darlings

The term killing your Darlings refers to writing. It means getting rid of every word and phrase that doesn’t serve the purpose of bringing the message across. It’s a practice of minimalism. I practiced similar things in my life for a decade now. Getting rid of every material item that is not either beautiful or useful. In my immaterial life, however, with idea and the things I pursue, that is not the case. There is a guitar hanging on my wall, there are countless domains rented, books I have never read, language courses I started and other goal I never fully gave up on. That is gonna change.

The rational realization that it has to change came with book “The Dip” by Seth Godin. Even if the book didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, it clarified this idea for me. Give up everything you can’t follow through to the end!

Why would you not be able to follow through to the end, you ask? Because there is a dip. There is a point in everything you pursue where it gets hard. When you write on a new website, it’s exciting. It’s new. It’s not anymore after a month of cranking out content, but the reward will only come after many more of the month of the same.

There is a dip in everything. The greater the dip, the higher the reward.

Why not pursue everything you are interested in? It is only so much you can do and unlimited possibilities to learn. Everyone’s day has 24 hours and in the age of the Internet, you compete with everyone else. And the reward? We don’t reward second, third or fourth places. No one searches for the second-best restaurant. That’s the simple reason you want to focus your efforts.

Why would you even want the reward? I want the reward to sustain myself and what I am doing. No one will pay me for my mediocre guitar skills, my broken Korean or my ability to set up a basic website. And that’s not about money, that’s about being able to dedicate 100% of my time to something I love.

I have been decluttering my “to do list” for the last year. I decided to not learn languages anymore, that I will not be a musician, that my focus is on my hometown Salzburg and my country and that everything I do has to with it. I will not even write or take videos about travel anymore. It’s not my field of expertise.

The beautiful realization is that so many of my interests are compatible with Salzburg. I can take pictures and videos, I can write and produce content and only one topic will enable me to go deep and master the dip.

The dip is about quitting to become successful.

Now the hard part. The hard part for me, it’s really about killing your Darlings. It’s painful to delete half of your written page. But you will have to delete it, if the other half is better and you want your book to be better.

And then it’s a lot more painful to get rid of half a year’s work because you realize that there is a better book to write. For me it’s domains. I have to cancel them. The one that’s the hardest is I have been working on this travel, personal development and Couchsurfing blog for a long time but it’s time to let it go.

Every time I thought about the Leaving the Comfort Zone Website in the last year I thought of how to implement it into what I am doing now but to be brutally honest. There is no way. No way that makes sense. No way that wouldn’t waste my time and pull focus. No way to invest without a return.

This is more of a therapeutic post. I was not planning on writing now but was about to push the “terminate domain” button and needed to get this off my chest. Thank you for reading!

Gerhard Reus