There is a time for everything

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gif by John Corsi 

The time you spend away from your task still qualifies as work. That includes doing the dishes, running errands, and taking care of the kids—whatever responsibilities you think to impede your central occupation contribute to its success.

British novelist Jon McGregor gives a good example of how he manages his writing despite making time for everything from Tweeting to taking care of his children.

“I rarely manage a whole unbroken day at the desk. And it can be frustrating, sometimes. Once or twice a year I manage to get away somewhere and live like a hermit for a week, eating and sleeping next to a desk and talking to no one and getting a lot of work done. Imagine if I could work like that all the time, I think, then. Think how productive I’d be! But if my life was always like that, I suspect I’d have very little to write about.”


Locking yourself away in isolation is a forlorn attempt to escape all that matters. Patterns can backfire, especially when it comes to creativity which thrives on observation and sudden randomness.

There is a time for everything

While productivity can be messy, time away from work is not squandered time. Instead, it is spent accumulating experiences and visualizing how the ideas you’re chewing on will all come to focus when you sit down in and commit to the day ahead.

The discipline of work is just as necessary as the chaotic daily tasks of life. In fact, the best things in life often disrupt it, forcing you to rethink priorities and see how it all connects.

Contrary to popular opinion, busyness is not a badge of honor. Life seeds all the ideas.

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Write a memoir to make sense of your life

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“Why write? To write. To make something.” – Claude Simon

Most people think of writing as a creative outlet. But it’s also an instrument for coping.

According to recent studies, writing your own memoir has various psychological benefits. Whether for private eyes or for public viewing, writing extensively about traumatic events helps you break free from the cage of anxiety.

“Psychologists believe that by converting emotions and images into words, the author starts to organize and structure memories, particularly memories that may be difficult to comprehend and accept.”


Words can save your life

Making sense of the past not only gives you perspective, it also strengthens your personal operating system by refocusing attention on what matters.

Want to better control your inner-narrative? Consider funneling your thoughts from mind to paper by starting your own memoir.

 

10 Products That’ll Make Interesting Holiday gifts 🎁

Below is a list of ten items I think you might be interested in, including products that’ll help improve your cognition, creativity, productivity, your inner-spirt, and maybe your wallet too! Note that if you do buy anything from the below, I may receive a tip of sorts.

1. Get yourself and others some Bitcoin.
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Who knows if it’s gambling or investing, both? It’s not too late to get into Bitcoin — remember you can buy a mere fraction — or any of the “cheaper” alternative currencies. If you sign up at Coinbase with this link, both of us get $10 worth of bitcoin!

2. Study the genius mind of Leonardo Da Vinci.

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“To truly be creative, you have to work across disciplines,” said author Walter Isaacson earlier this year on Leonardo da Vinci’s creative genius. After five years of writing and research (‘gathering string’) comes the eponymous book Leonardo da Vinci, an excellent gift for art lovers and creative types.

3. Field Notes“I’m not writing it down to remember it later, I’m writing it down to remember it now.”

This is my favorite notebook because it’s small and sturdy enough to fit in your side pocket so you never have to miss a good idea. If you’re looking for a good pen to go along with it, I can’t recommend the smooth writing of Pilot 35334 Precise V5 enough.  

4. Give your fellow traveler or athlete good feet massage with Foot Rubz.

5. Start standing now with Spark desk by Ergodriven.

They say sitting is the new smoking. When I was looking for a standing desk this year, I didn’t want to spend more than $100. Luckily, I stumbled upon the $25 Spark desk from Ergodriven. It’s sturdy and easy to put together, highly recommended.

6. Stand on something comfortable with this anti-fatigue mat.

If you’re going to stand and work, please also consider the Topo by Ergodriven. It’s not your typical standing mat; it encourages various stances that will sustain your work energy.

7. Doodle your heart out with 140 color gel pens.

“Children learn through play, but adults play through art,” said Brian Eno. Doodle your heart out with your kids or in your own adult coloring books with these 140 color gel pens.

8. The PureRelief XL help relieves back pain.

The best part about the PureRelief XL King Size Heating Pad is that it heats up immediately and goes after 2 hours so you don’t have to remember to unplug it.

9. Start the new year in the right mood

After reading Spontaneous Happiness: A New Path to Emotional Well-Being by Dr. Andrew Weil this year I immediately stocked up on some of the essential fish oil, Vitamin D, B-6, and a good multivitamin he prescribes to sustain a healthy mood.

10. Keep your phone charged 24/7 with this portable charger.

Until Apple develops solar-powered rechargeable phones, we’re stuck with external phone batteries. Still, this portable power bank gets the job done. I took one with me on a recent trip overseas and stayed charged the entire time so I’d never miss a good photo opportunity.

You can also shop all of the above items minus Bitcoin on my influencer list here.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out Amazon’s Gift Guide for even more gifting ideas.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

WaPCqsDhNkcv3aEtD“Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life. I take a book with me everywhere I go, and find there are all sorts of opportunities to dip in. The trick is to teach yourself to read in small sips as well as in long swallows. Waiting rooms were made for books—of course! But so are theater lobbies before the show, long and boring checkout lines, and everyone’s favorite, the john. You can even read while you’re driving, thanks to the audiobook revolution. Of the books I read each year, anywhere from six to a dozen are on tape. As for all the wonderful radio you will be missing, come on—how many times can you listen to Deep Purple sing “Highway Star”?

Reading at meals is considered rude in polite society, but if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Why Leonardo da Vinci wrote backward

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Leonardo da Vinci wrote backward (mirror writing) because he didn’t want others stealing his ideas. Writes Da Vinci biographer Rachel A. Koestler-Grack:

“The observations in his notebooks were written in such a way that they could be read only by holding the books up to a mirror.”

But did a genius who combined art and science so brilliantly really need to hide his work? Perhaps it was practical: as a lefty, he didn’t want to smudge the link. As a contrarian, Da Vinci also strived to be different. As blogger Walker’s Chapters writes:

“Do you really think that a man as clever as Leonardo thought it was a good way to prevent people from reading his notes? This man, this genius, if he truly wanted to make his notes readable only to himself, he would’ve invented an entirely new language for this purpose. We’re talking about a dude who conceptualized parachutes even before helicopters were a thing.”

Read more: Why Did Leonardo da Vinci Write Backwards? A Look Into the Ultimate Renaissance Man’s “Mirror Writing”

‘Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea’ ✍

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via Rebecca Hendin

“Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea,” observed novelist Iris Murdoch.

If you think you’re going to write a masterpiece, it’s already too late. It never works out that way. What you imagine in your head rarely translates to the same excitement on paper.

The best bet is to start writing and see where it goes. Writing, like photography and music, is all in the edit. It’s knowing what to keep, what to throw away, and what’s worth tweaking. As Miles Davis declared: “It’s not the notes you play, it’s the notes you don’t play.”

How are you going to know until you get it down?

When it comes to writing, you’ll never know where you’re going until you get there. So you might as well just dive into it. Perhaps writer Louis L’Amour put it best: “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

Words still matter 


There was a moment when marketers thought words didn’t matter, that the future was speaking through images.

But then everybody’s images started looking the same. The Instagram feed looked like a giant pile of sameness where anyone could be a photographer and upload a beautiful picture.

Snapchat then ushered in the video game and all of a sudden, copycats followed. Facebook’s algorithm started to favor video. Instagram introduced Stories and Live. People could share their thoughts without a keyboard.


But if there’s anything Twitter shows us, words matter more than ever. The US president and the ‘rocket man’ tease nuclear war. While images and video are propaganda, it is words that beget action; they are volatile, easily copy-pasted and bent into echo chambers to paint fraudulent stories of intent.

If we want to awe someone, we choose static and moving images. But if we ‘re going to poke someone, we select text.

Words are game changers. Not only do they provide context to an empty visual, but they also control the inner-narrative that ultimately influences external decisions. Choose them with care.

Let the internet empower you

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Everyone waits for the web to come to them. Such passiveness means that humans leave their decision-making up to algorithms. But don’t hide behind the machines; look yourself in the eyes as you would others and pick yourself to succeed.

The internet could save you feeling stuck. It liberates the amateur photographer or writer from holding back on their interests and tastes and instead encourages them to show the world their art. The barrier between consumer and maker is thinner than ever.


Don’t wait for the internet to come to you. Use it proactively to stumble into new worlds that inspire you to recast what you think you already know. Experiment with its distribution and feedback.

The internet is a tool you use to make stuff. Just as code changes, you too can sense patterns and update your skill set through trial and error. There’s no reason to shy away from individual oddities; feel free to trespass your fear by getting some skin in the game too.

‘You break experience up into pieces…’

“You break experience up into pieces and you put them together in different combinations, and some are real and some are not, some are documentary, and some are imagined…It takes a pedestrian and literal mind to be worried about which is true and which is not true. It’s all of it not true, and it’s all of it true.”

— Author Walter Stegner in an interview with Richard Etulain

Fact or fiction, our lives are but are an amalgamation of experience and imagination, neither of which explains the factual nature of our origins. Context fence-sits to prove no foreseeable answer, one that needs no seeking anyway.

The above quote is lifted from the afterword in Wallace Stegner’s novel Crossing to Safety, a highly recommended read.

Essential writing advice from Anne Lamott

TED distilled fourteen writing tips from an interview conducted with novelist Anne Lamott. Her 1995 book Bird by Bird has become an essential guide for aspiring artists of all types.

My favorite snippet from the interview appears when she’s asked to give her younger self some writing advice:

“I’d teach my younger self to stare off into space more often. I would tell her to waste more paper. I would tell her she doesn’t need to stick to a decision; she can change her mind.”

Daydream. Plan unscheduled time. Get messy. There is no such thing as the perfect time to start anything. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “This ‘Wait!’ has almost always meant ‘Never.'”

The vocation chooses you. Do the work in despite the resistance.

Read 14 writing tips, from beloved teacher Anne Lamott

Distracted by organized chaos

Photo by Wells Baum

I’m a sucker for seeing extraordinary in the ordinary. Last Friday on my walk home from work I stumbled upon a set of loose white paper sheets scattered on the sidewalk. Except it didn’t exactly appear haphazard. The paper zigzagged in a pattern.

After taking the photo, I felt compelled to pick it up. It was some type of packing material or art supplies. About twenty steps away was a shiny shopping bag, which was perfect for storing all the unfettered scraps. It made cleaning up so much easier, perhaps a reward for taking the initiative to clean up someone else’s trash.

What first appeared to be scrap in disarray was actually organized chaos. The disorder was magnetic, beautiful in its ugliness. Most importantly, it felt damn good to get it off the green patches of planet Earth.