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Seth Godin on writer’s block

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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:

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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.

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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

Less fixedly

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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. 

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Mind recess

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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

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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.

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The simple but effective Pomodoro Technique 🍅

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Thirty years ago, college student Francesco Cirillo used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to help improve his productivity.

Working for 25-minutes intervals with 5-minute breaks in between, he called it the Pomodoro Technique. Pomodoro translates to tomato in Italian.

The time-management method intends to help people focus on tackling projects uninterrupted, grouping pomodoros together to track their efforts.

I’ve used the Pomorodo Technique in the past as a placebo just to get me started on a blog post. There are plenty of apps out there like Focus Keeper to track your performance. But you can also buy a physical tomato timer on Amazon to recreate Cirillo’s original experience.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the system, Cirillo is also publishing the official The Pomodoro Technique book. Writes the creator:

“Time passes, slips away, moves toward the future. If we try to measure ourselves against the passage of time, we feel inadequate, oppressed, enslaved and defeated more and more with every second that goes by. We lose our élan vital, the life force that enables us to accomplish things.”

We may not be able to control time but the least we can do is try to take advantage of the time we have. As Jerry Seinfeld says, ‘don’t break the chain.’

You can find out more about Francesco Cirillo and the Pomodoro Technique on his website here.  

Staying connected

shalom-mwenesi-770578-unsplash Details often allude the inattentive.

Our attention sticks to the future, trying to manage unforeseeable events while simultaneously harping on the past.

In other words, the present is filled with more than one single mind and instead replaced with a collection of fragments.

But we can advance human intuition with a slight tweak in focus.

Instead of letting worry and anticipation colonize our lives, we can step into the space between stimulus and response and just relax.

“I needed no telescope except my attention.” — Oliver Sacks

‘The imperfect match, the failure of unity…’

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Mask CCV’ (2016) by John Stezaker © Courtesy TheApproach, London.jpeg

The great thing about collage is that, because production is so minimal, you are always close to the vantage point of the viewer. I am often asked why I don’t just get two people, pose them for photographs and splice the shots more accurately, but that misses the point. It’s the imperfect match, the failure of unity, that makes us identify with these beings.

When people say I’m not a real photographer, I tell them I work with the medium rather than in it. In the internet age, it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between the producers and the consumers of images. I see my work as merging these two worlds.

John Stezaker, Old Masks

‘Space is closer than the sea’

Space is about 100 kilometers away. That’s far away—I wouldn’t want to climb a ladder to get there—but it isn’t that far away. If you’re in Sacramento, Seattle, Canberra, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Phnom Penh, Cairo, Beijing, central Japan, central Sri Lanka, or Portland, space is closer than the sea.

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Twitter = High School

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via giphy

The impulsiveness, the cliques, the gossip, and the ego — the Twitter cesspool can be fun, entertaining, and darn-right toxic.

Unlike Instagram, Twitter brings out the worst in people through the abuse of words. In short, it is ‘The High School We Can’t Log Off From.’ Writes New York Times columnist Jennifer Senior:

A few years back, the sociologist Robert Faris described high school to me as “a large box of strangers.” The kids don’t necessarily share much in common, after all; they just happen to be the same age and live in the same place. So what do they do in this giant box to give it order, structure? They divide into tribes and resort to aggression to determine status.

The same can be said of Twitter. It’s the ultimate large box of strangers. As in high school, Twitter denizens divide into tribes and bully to gain status; as in high school, too-confessional musings and dumb mistakes turn up in the wrong hands and end in humiliation.

Unlike Apple, Facebook, Google, and Pinterest, Twitter bucked the Silicon Valley trend and kept Alex Jones’s account live. Twitter thrives on breaking news and its divisiveness.

Clay Shirky, one of the shrewdest internet theorists around, has noted that the faster the medium is, the more emotional it gets. Twitter, as we know, is pretty fast, and therefore runs pretty hot.

Yet despite all the negativity, Twitter may be the world’s most important social network even if it’s the least profitable. And while some of its users abuse the public microphone, others use it just to talk, teach, and share their work for the benefit of others.

Happy Bullet Journal Day!

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gif via Sharpie

If you look around Pinterest and Facebook groups, you’ll see that bullet journalling is all the rage but what most people don’t know is that Ryder Carroll is the originator of the Bullet Journal Method.

Today marks five years since Carroll introduced bulletjournal.com to the world, helping millions of people like myself organize and prioritize the right stuff in our personal and work lives in the face of the dopamine homing missiles of the distraction age.

I’m happy to share with you that he’s giving away two free chapters from his new book which comes out October 23.

You can download them for free here.

If you want to learn more about “intentional living” with the Bullet Journal Method, I encourage you to watch the video below: