Featured

Seth Godin on writer’s block

writers block
gif via rewire.org

Writer’s block is a myth created by people who are afraid to the do the work.

There are various reasons writers let the blank page get the best of their emotions.

  • Trying to be too perfect
  • Procrastinating en route to excuses that usually include the word “But….”
  • Unwilling to fail or write poor sentences first
  • Living up to someone else’s expectations
  • Being afraid to share the work

Writer’s block appears to be the work of the evil. It wants us to quit and hide in shame instead of “dancing with the amygdala” as Seth Godin pleads on the very subject in his new podcast: No such thing (as writer’s block).

In reality, no one gets talker’s block just as a plumber never get’s plumber’s block. Stuckness is a work of fiction.

'The work is doing it when you don't feel like it. Doing it when it's not easy.' — Seth GodinClick To Tweet

Forget inspiration and do the work

If we choose to be professional, we choose to show up consistently and dance with the fear. We develop habits that allow us to unlock what Steven Pressfield’s calls ‘the resistance‘, compelling the muse to work with us rather than against us.

Says Godin on the resistance:

“The resistance never goes away. The more important the work is, the louder it gets. The harder you try to make it go away, the hard and more clever it gets in response. The work is doing it when you don’t feel like it. Doing it when it’s not easy.”

Pro tip: Want to escape writer’s block? Try blogging it out 👇

Fear leads to intertia which leads to regret. We start by doing it poorly and zigzagging through the maze of bad ideas. And then we tweak.

As Martin Luther King Jr. alluded to, “Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

Perfection is futile. The best time to be ready is right now. Don’t whine, don’t complain, get to work and make things. And refuel with Seth’s podcast below:

Advertisements
Featured

The best music to help you focus

Music is a performance-enhancement drug. There’s a reason athletes listen to songs on repeat to pump them up before games. But music’s effect on studying, writing, or doing office work is equally profound.

Music is known to increase your productivity by sharpening your focus and putting your brain into a flow state. However, it takes the right type of sound to help get concentrate on your studies and work.

Always do your best work

Focus@Will offers over 20 channels and thousands of hours of music that are scientifically optimized to help you focus and get stuff done.

Seriously, the app has some serious studies to prove it.

“We ask our users to rate their productivity during each session, and we’ve found that the average productivity in a one-hour focus@will session is 75% – this is far above the productivity most people report in an hour without focus@will.”

Read more on how it works

I use the Uptempo channel at work when I need to filter out distractions and help push me through reading hundreds of emails. However, I turn on the Ambient playlist with medium intensity when I want to get into a contemplative state to journal or blog.

Pick your focus channel

You’ll be amazed at how a little hum of music can make your more productive. I’m listening to the Cafe Focus channel now as I type this post!

Music = neurological focus power

“Music is part of being human,” Oliver Sacks wrote in Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the BrainAnd the right music, customized to supercharge your happy work creativity, can make a huge difference in your workday!

I recommend that you give Focus@Will a try on the computer first since it seems to work best when you can toggle between focus channels to find one that fits your work habits. But the complimentary app works just as well.

You can sign up to Focus@Will today get two free weeks. If you see the increased focus you’re looking for, I suggest leveling up with the annual subscription since it’s ultimately cheaper than month-to-month.

So get stuff done while making better use of your time. Reduce your distractions. Be more creative. Always do your best work. And give your mind the boost it needs.

Get focused, today.

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE SEE THE DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

Featured

Why everyone should blog

Everyone should blog. You do not have to publish 500 words a day. You do not even need to post at all. In fact, writing comes easier when you can write for yourself, in private.

Use a smartphone journal like the Day One app or the ever popular Morning Pages Journal where you write by hand. When it comes to blogging effectively, you have to be a little vulnerable. Don’t tell all but don’t hide everything either, especially if your advice will benefit the lives of other people.

I have been blogging for years (btw, I recently wrote a blog post about how to start one on WordPress). It is harder to get an audience who cares to read your stuff today than it has ever been. You have to assume nobody wants to read your shit because he or she is busy or would rather be social networking or playing games instead. However, for those readers who do read your blog frequently, they have subscribed for a reason.

Build your beautiful site today 👇

'Everyone should write a blog, every day, even if no one reads it. There’s countless reasons why it’s a good idea and I can’t think of one reason it’s a bad idea.' — Seth GodinClick To Tweet

Luis Suarez has been blogging since 2002 and recently offered some advice about using your blog to reflect the real you.

“It’s all about having a meaningful presence and how you work your way to make it happen, to leave a legacy behind, to share your thoughts and ideas others can learn from just like you do yourself with other people’s vs. pretending to be who you are not…Just be yourself with your own thoughts and share them along! It is what we all care for, eventually. The rest is just noise.”

People like to say blogging is dead. But not only are new platforms emerging like Medium, but blogging is just writing. Words will always be a powerful way to say something meaningful, whether it is in print, online, graffiti, or the walls of a cave.

I started this blog so I could show the world what interests me. It is no surprise that what you read here is information I learned from other blogs. In other words, blogging acts like a canvass where you synthesize, remix and interpret in your words. Above all, blogging is free, what Seth Godin calls “the last great online bargain.” Blogging gives you a voice, and it is an excellent incentive to think in a world that just wants us to consume.

Blogging is a bicep curl for the brain. Write daily, and practice the art of conviction.

“Use your blog to connect. Use it as you. Don’t “network” or “promote.” Just talk.” — Neil GaimanClick To Tweet

Moving sculptures

Dutch artist and kinetic sculptor Theo Jansen builds wind propelled sculptures that live on beaches.

Each sculpture contains a rotating spine that allows it to rotate forward and backward. Even more interesting, these moving pieces of art can detect and avoid waves when they get too close. 

But don’t expect to see these mesmerizing “mobile animals” on a beach near you any time soon. You can only find these skeletons in the Netherlands. 

Over time, these skeletons have become increasingly better at surviving the elements such as storm and water and eventually I want to put these animals out in herds on the beaches, so they will live their own lives. 

Theo Jansen, Dutch Artist/Sculptor 

Mechanical paper tech

81Z5yz1DxVL
71HhFTgpoyL

These popup contraptions are extraordinary, to say the least.

Created by artist Kelli Anderson, This Book Is a Planetarium book contains interactive constructions of a planetarium, a musical instrument, a speaker and more.

Writes the artist on her blog:

I published a pop-up book of mechanical paper tech.
Expanding out of This Book is a Planetarium’s pages, you’ll find: a stringed instrument, a perpetual calendar, a decoder ring, a spiralgraph drawing generator, a smartphone speaker, and—yes—a constellation-projecting planetarium. With a little tinkering, turning, and futzing: the resulting paper objects actually work! (despite of being made from “almost nothing.”)

The book was designed to showcase the potential of the material world—while making a case for the inherent educational value of lo-fi experiences.

In their clunky way of functioning, the past’s technology served this unacknowledged secondary function to humanity: These objects helped us glimpse—and therefore connect to —the magic of the physical world. By being glitchy and fussy (and by sometimes requiring manual tinkering or duct tape), lo-fi contraptions more transparently revealed the underlying laws of the world to us.

You can find out more about the book here.

“Goldsmith Work” by Celsius Pictor

180723_celsiuspictor4

180723_celsiuspictor2

180723_celsiuspictor9

I’m sure that for me collage is a tool, another vehicle to express myself and to communicate my ideas, and I think that for me collage is a means, not an end in itself. In fact lately I’ve started drawing again and like Max Ernst did, sometimes I draw parts of my pieces that are integrated with collage images without being able to differentiate, in a mixed technique. I think that’s my point, I’m an illustrator and I use collage as I could use pencils or acrylics, as a tool and not as a purpose.

Celsius Pictor, an illustrator and collage artist who describes his craft as “goldsmith work.”

‘The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now’

jeremy-bishop-74123-unsplash.jpg

“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now,” goes the old saying.

Waiting to start almost always means never.

The work in the head of a perfectionist will never match the reality it takes to get there, a path fraught with failure and mistakes.

But you have permission to error. In fact, your best work is simply an accumulation of trials. Time melts the mess.

Behind every tree is a seed that kickstarts it all. What you do today, right now, sets you up for a chance of bloom tomorrow.

I’ll leave you with this from Teena Selig’s book What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20.

There was once a man named Goldberg who wanted nothing more than to be rich. So each day he went the synagogue and prayed to God to win the lottery. This went on for days, weeks, months, and years, but Goldberg never won. Eventually, Goldberg was at his wit’s end. Praying to God, he said, “You have really let me down.” Suddenly the silence was broken and God responded in a booming voice, “Goldberg, you’ve got to help me out here. You could at least buy a ticket!”

Stand out of our light

stand out of our light.jpg

Huxley predicted that the deliberate flood of information, perhaps a more lethal strategy than Orwellian censorship, would dent our interest in reading books, having active opinions, and therefore make us passive.

The internet, of course, puts information distribution on hyper-speed, skipping from one issue to the next. People consume and quickly forget what’s important, all the while externalizing everything onto the screen. We have lost our ability to pay attention, not just because of tweeting politicians but because of screaming merchants.

There’s yet another book dissecting this very topic of how technology hijacks the brain. Author James Williams of Stand out of our Light: Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy writes: 

“The liberation of human attention may be the defining moral and political struggle of our time. We therefore have an obligation to rewire this system of intelligent, adversarial persuasion before it rewires us.”

The former Google strategist has witnessed the intentional creation of distractive technologies that overpower human will so we no longer “want what we want to want.”

The Financial Times book review writes:

In an attempt to invent new linguistic concepts, the author plays with three types of attentional light: spotlight, starlight and daylight, pertaining to doing, being and knowing.

In this respect, Williams admires the free-speaking Greek philosopher Diogenes. One day, while sunning himself in Corinth, he was visited by Alexander the Great, who promised to grant him any wish. The cranky Diogenes replied: “Stand out of my light!” Williams wants a handful of West Coast tech executives to stop blocking out our human light, too.

Perhaps if we regain our detachment from irreality we’ll be able to look back and pinpoint attention distortion with fresh eyes.

Confuse the eye

51PFh5pH1wL.jpg
Tim Newark’s 2007 book Camouflage

There’s a fantastic piece about the history of camouflage in Topic Magazine this week.

Before camouflage hit the runway, artists in World War I used their creativity to disguise soldiers and protect them from aerial reconnaissance and long-range enemy fire.

To learn how to blend in, the French military turned to an unexpected group—the people who knew best how colors and textures could be used to trick the eye, a resource France had in abundance: artists. Known as camoufleurs, these artists became part of a special military unit that provided camouflage services to the Allied armies during World War I. The camoufleurs would join soldiers in the trenches, painting camouflage patterns directly on weapons, or painting canvas covers with disruptive patterns: brown, black, and green splotches or bold stripes, to make it difficult to see where the weapons’ edges started and stopped. Sometimes devotion to this artistry was dangerous, and in one instance, an artist was shot in the hand when he left a trench to put the final touch on a camouflage pattern.

The camoufleurs also provided the army with color charts that showed different tones of the terrain, depending on the area and season. One such color chart, featured in Tim Newark’s 2007 book Camouflage, looks like an impressionist painting, with golden hues that resemble the sun hitting leaves in the fall, or white and brown tones, like peeking through the leaves of a tree.

Less fixedly

chuttersnap-776317-unsplash.jpg

Assumptions provide fence-sitting answers. They give the impression of solving issues but they’re really just band-aids that make us feel safer. Half-truths also hinder inquisitiveness.

“We must be ignorant of what we are looking for, or we would not go looking for it.” — Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Rather, like a dog with a bone, we should be running off for a half hour and then coming back. The external stimulus has to be interesting enough that even we get bored of it, we revisit it later.

The last thing we want to do is externalize the whimsical nature of life to the certitude of a photo. Life goes on beyond the screen. Memory hinges on context and keeps developing each time the story gets told.

Confidence basks in the chase of uncertainty if only to ensure that the truth remains unfixed.

The World’s Most Beautiful Libraries

The Italian photographer Massimo Listri’s new book The World’s Most Beautiful Libraries showcases 55 of the most gorgeous libraries across the globe dating as far back to 766.

Featured libraries include the Sainte-Geneviève library in Paris, France, the all-white  Mafra Palace library in Portugal (my favorite), and Trinity College Library, Dublin, Ireland which houses Book of Kells and Book of Durrow.

While mostly in Europe, Listri also captures the Library of Alexandria, once the largest library in the world to the camel bookmobiles seen in Kenya.

Sainte-Geneviève library, Paris, France
Sainte-Geneviève library, Paris, France
Vatican Apostolic Library, Rome, Italy
Vatican Apostolic Library, Rome, Italy
The Mafra Palace library, Mafra, Portugal
The Mafra Palace library, Mafra, Portugal
Rijksmuseum research library, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Rijksmuseum research library, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

See more images at Quartzy.

Raising the level of consciousness

You can’t program a robot to be bored. It runs on doing. You can’t depend on a robot to pursue a half-baked idea when it doesn’t know what stretches tastes.

At the same time, a robot can multiply randomness. Using AI, It can think of thousands of possibilities at once. It is the ultimate prompt machine.

But human ingenuity is unique. The mind knows when to do nothing but smell the roses. Out of boredom, a melange of neuronal interactions blooms the next big idea, even those half-baked.

Innovation is random, like luck. It is the combination of creativity, timing, and good old cocktail of audacity and persistence.

Raising attentiveness also raises the level of consciousness.

‘Think of drawing verbs instead of nouns’

A sure way to keep from making static, lifeless drawings is to think of drawing verbs instead of nouns. Basically, a noun names a person, place, or thing; a verb asserts, or expresses action, a state of being, or an occurrence. 

I speak often of shifting mental gears and here is another place to do it. The tendency to copy what is before us without taking time (or effort) to ferret out what is happening action-wise is almost overwhelming. 

Walt StanchfieldDrawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes

Mind recess

giphy.gif
gif by Thomas Slater

Inactivity cultivates new insights.

It’s not so much as being bored than it is the value of pausing.

It’s a good thing we can’t write everything our brain says down on paper. Most of it would be jibberish.

Even when we dictate our thoughts onto the computer, we’re impeding the darts of words from overwhelming our head.

We make a lot more sense when we slow down and edit.

When it comes to writing or speaking, that little skip of disfluency creates just enough space between the mind and the mouth or the pen to produce something a bit deeper, a bit clearer, in some cases cleverer.

Even the space after a period gives us just enough of a break to our eyes.

Breathe and stop: Persistence follows the fundamental urge to rest.

Into the wilderness

ihor-malytskyi-772762-unsplash.jpg
The game of goal setting is a choice. Instead of leaving your future to the whims of nature, you create your own course and chase an ideal outcome.

As Hunter S. Thompson advised: “a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.”

Choice, however, does not make the road more predictable.

Setting out a degree of chance and failure is a good thing. Losing one dream often redirects you into other adventures. Success is a corollary to effort, although you must be confidently blind hoping everything works out in the end.

Nothing is stopping you from calling it a day, cease thinking for yourself, and pursuing absolutes. Every school wants obedient students.

But human beings are hardwired to seek meaning, to go beyond the foundation and stretch the imagination. To play servant to autopilot is the cousin of death.

When open enough, optimistic, and thinking a bit different, you’d be surprised at how often your ambitions boomerang back into your life.

Sharing sameness on the gram

I’ve blogged about it before but it’s worth repeating: Instagram homogenizes creativity.

Scroll your feed, and I bet one of the pictures that comes up includes the following: a selfie, a coffee cup in hand, someone standing on a rock, riding in a canoe, or feet up in the sand or mountains, etc. It all looks the same!

Of course, similar cliche-looking pictures can be seen on Unsplash, where I often pluck images to share on my blog.

Thankfully we have accounts like @insta_repeat to remind people, especially adventure influencers, of their mimetic desire to copy each other. The creator of the account is an unknown artist of their own, with no intention than to call out the patterns of sameness in the digital space.

From Quartz

The creator of Insta_Repeat is a 27-year-old filmmaker and artist, who wants to remain anonymous. “I’m not trying to be the arbiter of what photos have value and what don’t. I am just making observations about the homogeneous content that is popular on Instagram,” she told Quartz over email. She says she is baffled by how many shots there are of humans in canoes and atop SUVs—but does see the positives in the repetitive nature of Instagram. “I also think there’s an incredible amount of value in emulation both when someone is learning and continuing their craft,” she says. “Improving upon and building upon what has been done…is an important part the evolution of art.”

The art of conformity is real. If at first, we copy, then we deduce, mixing and meshing what others do until we develop our own unique style. That’s a creator’s ambition anyway, to do something novel.   

Below are some of the most recent posts from the @insta_repeat account. Make sure to follow along for the latest collages.

34682292_2167553993480307_1374409338814201856_n.jpg
37785601_1976587885976139_7999270494517854208_n.jpg