There’s nothing wrong with the review, nothing at all. It’s absolutely fine. Anyone at all (especially non-techies and even non-iPhone users) who reads it will learn what’s different about the new iPhone and why she should be excited by it (spoiler alert: iMessage and speech recognition, called Siri).
But there’s nothing in there to make it the most emailed article on the NY Times site, viewed millions of times.
The thing is, the review itself doesn’t matter much. People care what David Pogue is going to say about the new iPhone because David Pogue is David Pogue. What’s more interesting is how he got to be David Pogue (for mass consumers, the authoritative voice, along with Walter Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal, on tech gadgets that are relevant to our lives): by writing for years and years about things that generally weren’t as interesting or as sexy as the iPhone: the Kindle before anyone cared, wireless speakers, the IBM Thinkpad and the Microsoft Zune. He earned the right to be the person whose article you had to read on the coolest tech device in history (maybe not this iPhone but the iPhone) by spending years writing about devices that, by and large, weren’t that cool and that most of us will never buy.
You probably don’t want to be David Pogue, but you might want to be David Pogue about something. You’d love to share your ideas and have people listen. So how do you make that happen?
It might be counter- intuitive, but you get there by starting at the edges, meaning (if it were tech) not by writing about iPhones (only) but by writing about all sorts of obscure stuff too, like which is the best pre-paid cellphone plan or, better yet, which are the best pre-paid plans for college kids in rural Mississippi.
My guess is that there are two things holding you back: you’re not sure you know exactly what your “thing” is today; and you feel like you have about 10 days’ worth of exciting, interesting things to say about that thing, not 10 years’ worth (which is what you’ll need to become the David Pogue of your thing.)
Fortunately, you’re wrong. You have a lot to say. The problem you need to crack isn’t figuring out everything you’re going to say. The problem you need to crack is starting to say things.
Take this blog: when I started it, I knew that I had something to say about fundraising in the nonprofit sector. That’s why I wrote my Manifesto for Nonprofit CEOs. But I quickly discovered that I didn’t have a post to write every single day that was directly about fundraising. That realization alone – it came early and it came often, I promise – tempted me to stop writing or, more pernicious still, tempted me to censor posts that felt off-topic. I’m so glad I didn’t. It’s only through the act of keeping on that I discovered what a blog post is, that I discovered how all the pieces could fit together, that I discovered my voice. The topics will change, the blog will evolve, but through the act of doing I learned what it was I was doing, not the other way around.
If you’re expecting that you’re supposed to have all the answers before you start, you’ll definitely talk yourself out of jumping in, which would be a shame. Get the scariest part out of the way by starting, and be prepared for the hardest part, which is shouting down the voice that will scream “this isn’t good enough!” How could it be? You’re just getting started.
There are only two non-negotiable prerequisites: dogged persistence (to keep at it) and passion for your topic. Chipping away at the proverbial stone (to reveal the sculpture that lies within) is a daily undertaking, and only by sticking it out over a long period of time will you build up your expertise, your voice, and, eventually, your audience.