Previous: The Most Important 9 Words a Stranger Ever Said to Me
Next: The Top 10 Micro-Photos of 2021



View count:3,434
Last sync:
In which John discusses doing things routinely, and where ideas come from.

Subscribe to our newsletter!
And join the community at
Help transcribe videos -
Learn more about our project to help Partners in Health radically reduce maternal mortality in Sierra Leone:
If you're able to donate $2,000 or more to this effort, please join our matching fund:
John's twitter -
Hank's twitter -
Hank's tumblr -
Book club:
Good morning, Hank. It's Tuesday. And here I am making a Vlogbrothers video, which I have been doing for almost fifteen years. 

I was making Vlogbrothers videos during the George W. Bush administration, I was making them before the iPhone existed, I was making them before I had children, one of whom is now in sixth grade.

Pretty much whatever's happening, if it's Tuesday, I try to make a video. Like, I've made videos on Tuesdays when I couldn't get my eyes to focus due to labyrinthitis, and I made one in a hotel room just after my grandfather's funeral.

I also make them on good days. Like, Hank, if I had to cite the single best day of my professional life so far it was January 10, 2013, when you and I and Kimya Dawson and the Mountain Goats and Neil Gaiman and other people played Carnegie Hall and my friends and family were there and I uploaded a video that morning.

Now, I know that I don't have to do it this way, but I like to. And here's why:

The thing is, this fifteen years of consistency is notable for me because I am the worst at consistency.

Like, I've heard about people who write novels by sitting down at the same desk at the same time seven days a week, writing for the same number of hours. I've never been able to write every day.

Sometimes I write at night. Usually I squeeze in writing between other things, between video shoots or meetings. Even before I was a YouTuber, though, I was wildly inconsistent with my writing.

Like, I wrote parts of my first novel, Looking For Alaska, on lunch breaks and part of it on weekends, and sometimes I would write it, like, in the margin of whatever book I was reading.

I would write for, like, six weeks every night and then for two weeks I wouldn't write at all because, I don't know, I wanted to play FIFA 2002. 

There's only been one period of my life when I was, like, a full-time professional writer, the latter half of 2006. Just after my book An Abundance of Katherines came out I decided to quite my day job and I had endless hours to devote to writing whereupon I learned that I was still a wildly inconsistent writer and that the days were a little bit terrifying in their emptiness.

And so three months of quitting my day job I decided to invent a new one, albeit of the unpaid variety: this YouTube channel.

Even though there was no monetization for creators in those days, I treated Vlogbrothers as a job because it had the contours of a job: a certain amount of work due at certain times.

I suppose when writing a book there are also deadlines, but if you miss them nothing happens. Whereas if I missed a Vlogbrothers deadline I might have to eat a blenderized happy meal.

But more than that I felt like people were waiting for the video and I think that's why I've been able to be mostly consistent over the last fifteen years, because I felt like people were counting on me.

I don't labor under the delusion that Vlogbrothers is particularly important but I think that is important: having people who are counting on you and trying to deliver for them.

Like, at it's core, that's what parenting is. That's what most relationships are. That's what most jobs are.

There's also another big benefit to consistency. Whenever I'm asked about writing or whatever, the question I get the most is, "Where do you get your ideas?" and I have no idea where ideas come from.

I don't know how thought works. What I do know is if I try to hold on to my ideas, I never get new ones.

Like, you would think that after making a thousand of these I would have long ago run out of ideas, but what actually happens is that the more videos I make, the more ideas I get.

Now, I can not, in good conscience, recommend making a video every Tuesday for fifteen years. Like, some days I have made videos when I probably shouldn't have, and, of course, many days I have made videos that were bad.

And, worst of all, I've made some videos that might've been pretty good by Wednesday but were a little under cooked on Tuesday but nonetheless got uploaded.

But taken as a whole, making videos on a schedule helps me to feel a sense of orientation and community which is hugely valuable to me, even when I'm feeling sad or scared or overwhelmed. In fact, it's most valuable to me when I'm feeling sad or scared or overwhelmed. 

So thanks for being here. It means a lot to me.
Hank, I will see you on Friday. And you will see me on Tuesday. And long may it continue... with occasional vacation days of course.