Writing: Low Downside, High Upside
Apr 26, 2022
An asymmetric object has aspects that are not equal.
An opportunity with an asymmetric upside has a small downside risk but a large upside potential.
Naval Ravikant lists some asymmetric opportunities:
Invest in startups
Start a company
Create a book, podcast, video
Create a (software) product
Go on many first dates
Go to a cocktail party
Read a Lindy book
Move to a big city
Writing is an asymmetric opportunity that anyone can take.
Writing has low downside risk but an unbounded upside. It’s an asymmetric opportunity primarily because of the people you can meet through your writing.
Here are the 3 ways to make writing your asymmetric opportunity.
1. Write what you love until you love to write
Naval says, "Read what you love until you love to read."
The same idea applies to writing.
If you’re just starting to write, don’t be afraid to write about topics that aren’t completely aligned with your professional goals.
Take a few essays to write about low-hanging fruit topics that you feel confident sharing. Once you become more confident, you can take bigger risks with your writing.
In addition, when you write about topics that you love, you will inevitably attract like-minded people. This is where asymmetric opportunities are created.
2. Become An Antifragile Writer
Antifragility describes something that becomes stronger as a result of applied stress.
As I write in How to Become an Antifragile Writer, antifragile writing is all about publishing more often.
“To become an antifragile writer, your goal is to more frequently expose more of your writing to the stresses of the real world.”
To do this:
Focus on building the best portfolio of posts rather than trying to publish the best individual essay.
Become more comfortable publishing incomplete work.
When you publish more often, you will increase the odds that your writing will create a new opportunity.
3. Do Things That Don’t Scale
Writing is primarily an asymmetric opportunity because of the people you meet through your writing.
Paul Graham famously wrote that you should "Do Things That Don’t Scale" when building a startup. Do the same for your writing.
This primarily means that you should actively search for people that might be interested in reading your writing and directly send them the post.
Here are some examples:
Ask someone you admire in your industry if they’d be willing to give feedback on your latest essay
Search for an expert on the topic that you covered. Send them your post and ask for their thoughts
Send your writing to 3 friends or colleagues. Ask them for their opinion and start a discussion
Find people on social media that talk about your essay’s topic. Respond to their post with your thoughts and a link to your essay
Writing is an asymmetric opportunity. The downside is low and the upside is unbounded.
Take advantage of this opportunity. Write what you love until you love to write, become an antifragile writer, and do things that don’t scale.