How-to: Why the Tutorial Culture Is Attractive

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Today, we see thousands of how-to articles every month on Medium. You also see the same kind of articles on individual blogs, in the largest media outlets in the world, and even on Youtube. The reason for this overwhelmingly repetitive headline is simple: It works.

Those headlines are supposed to attract you to writing that will give you something. And to be fair, most of them do. They promise you extreme value and tell you that if you follow this ‘step-by-step,’ you will be able to achieve what you have been looking into.

It just exists, and guess what? I’m guilty of it too. But there’s a flaw there.

People are taking in it too literally.

Headlines Aren’t New

I come from a household where my dad is an engineer, and my mom is an artist. So I get a little bit of both worlds–the why you need to create and how to.

To my eyes, both of my parents are creative. They are often looking for different things and trying to implement the new ideas they have. So I got to experience and also implement that in my every day as I grew up.

I’m not the most innovative guy, but I can pass as a creator on a job description basis. I love Medium, and I use it in a way that I can write my ideas out and hope that people read them if they’re useful.

Although, as a user, I see writers focusing on giving solutions rather than providing inspiration for new creations.

This is normal. Just like the dopamine effect that some online trading platforms have adopted, writers entice you to read their articles, find a quick solution, and move on.

It’s a bit like doomscrolling but for items that actually inform you.

I sometimes write on topics that I know will attract more people: Some ideas that are working, and business models that seem to match their consumer. But I also make sure I add a ‘so what’ to the end.

The real how-tos are different. These are the ones that often list out ‘productivity hacks’ and ‘best strategies.’ They create sequences and frameworks for people to follow. Some clearly work. Otherwise, the food network would be a bust. So, even though sometimes they are very valuable, the reader needs to know that success isn’t inside that five-minute read.

Sure, waking up at 5 AM or taking cold showers in the morning may work for you. I believe in listening to other people’s stories. Still, as a reminder, there is a reason why these don’t apply to everyone.

Each person is entirely different in personal lifestyles, which is why a morning cold shower may work wonders for you. But creating startups, revolutionizing technology, or innovating a profession should come from somewhere different.

‘Starting a Company’ and ‘Making Apple Pie’ are two very different stories and should follow different formats.

Do not trust someone that tells you how to create a company in 3 simple steps.

The how-to ‘economy’ hampers the idea of trying different things because it stimulates the creation of cheatsheets when there is no catalyst or success formula available.

The Formula Against Formulas

Instead of trying to follow the ‘already existing’ framework, maybe try something different. Use those frameworks, collect all of those thoughts into notes that you create yourself, and put them all together into a sort of creative scrapbook.

Stimulate the creative process by compiling lots of information from different sources and work with these as stepping stones to get to the end goal.

If you want to start a new company, you obviously need to read and follow some guidelines (especially official ones). But for creative reasons, don’t use every single piece of writing that explains frameworks. Your to-be-created framework may be the best one yet.

And first of all, start. Instead of mastering the perfect routine, try to create your own. That is why there are so many people offering how-tos. They created something and are here to share how and whey they did it — props to them.

Do read the articles, find the value they bring you, but do not take them as the holy grails of creation or follow them as you would follow your constitution.

And don’t follow this as a formula at all. If there is a process you know better than to collect notes from other people, go after that one. This is not another framework.

What do you think? Let me know here or leave me a note: gvdumit@gmail.com

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Marketing manager writing on strategy, news, and entrepreneurship.

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Guilherme Dumit

Guilherme Dumit

Marketing manager writing on strategy, news, and entrepreneurship.

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