A plethora of unconsumed content

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Movies, books, magazines, music, and podcasts. There’s too much content and too little time.

We can try to keep up and multitask or listen to podcasts 2x their speed. But it’s a zero-sum game. The internet never ends. There will always be another Netflix show to catch up on.

Yet we mustn’t fret. We only have so many hours in the day.

An overdose of content. An underdose of time.

Attention competes with sleep.

We spend 18 hours of our day staring at the rectangular glow. How much of that time is consciously doing versus seeking distractive entertainment?

As tech journalist Jonathan Margolis points out, we’re consuming ever more media but not necessarily getting more intelligent. Yet, the sales of physical books are up! Go figure.

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Paper just works

bullet journal, bullet journal layout, bullet journal ideas, bullet journals how to start,

Touching is believing. That’s why bullet journals are all the rage. People want to slow down and get everything from their worries, random thoughts, weekend plans, shopping lists, gift ideas, blog topics, exercise schedules etc., all down and out on paper.

Writes Mike Vardy in his piece Why Paper Works:

Paper works because it is only limited by what you’re willing to put on (and into) it. Paper provides an escape from your devices and does so without compromising your ability to get things done. Paper is safe and secure in that it can be both lifesaving and disposable depending on the circumstances. Paper is versatile, compatible and portable. Paper — simply put — just works.


Boring is the new interesting. We can’t think with clarity with candy-colored apps flashing at us tempting the latest scroll.

A simple pen and paper ask for our attention. And we give it.

Longform doesn’t squander our best thoughts the latest social media refresh. The handwritten word complements the learning process.

Digital is where we source the ideas and paper is where we write them down and connect the dots.

When we use analog and digital tools with intent, they tend to complement each other.

Accept compliments but do not inhale

loop exhale GIF-source
via giphy

When it comes to compliments, you accept them but you do not inhale.

Compliments are as ephemeral as a Facebook like. They acknowledge your existence and provide a dopamine boost. But they also turn the ego into an enemy. Praise takes no responsibility for the passion and head work at play.

Rather than seeking social validation, you should be cranking up the work.

Passion helps bring your hobby to the job. “In the long run, we find what we expect,” Henry David Thoreau wrote. “We shall be fortunate then if we expect great things.”

Autonomous in your choices, the magic number of greatness precedes you. Remember to pace yourself and slow down the breath.

Exhale…

A still inchoate creator

gif by Sharon Liu

The blank page doesn’t write itself. It stares at you, pleading for you to quit and move on to something else.

Those who persist pace themselves into unfamiliar territory. A big bang does no artist any good. What matters is not the end result, but pushing through in a gradual approach.

Creators strive for long-term serotonin over the short-shock dopamine.

They’re the ones that embrace vulnerability. They dance with fear while building up the bicep of the brain. Confidence speaks as if it were alone, dying to go public.

The barrier lies within the self. It tries to impede greater personal growth. You are your own worst enemy of nuclear insignificance.

To wait in the ambiguous middle while everyone else flies by on the racetrack of certainty.

“You have to do the work now, because you don’t have forever.” — Spike JonzeClick To Tweet

Doing the work is a conscious anxiety-ridden habit, but it can run with it like a GIF loop. Chances are if you did it yesterday you can do it again today.

The race to patience is on. It’s settling that’s the problem.

‘Don’t read the words. It’s bad enough that people use Powerpoint as a sort of teleprompter.’

Animation Presentation GIF by David Urbinati-source.gif

If you use Powerpoint, a few principles and tips to keep in mind when using type on a slide:

Don’t read the words. It’s bad enough that people use Powerpoint as a sort of teleprompter. Much worse that you don’t trust the audience enough to read what you wrote. If you want them to read the precise words, stand quietly until they do. If you want to paraphrase the words, that can work.

Big font, few words. And use pictures. Your narrative is the message.

Words on slides by Seth Godin

Famous artists and their recipes for good luck

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Creatives obsess with how other successful creators do their work. Witness the 2013 bestseller Daily Rituals by Mason Currey.

But instead of focusing on the productive habits of successful artists, author Ellen Weinstein highlights their oddities.

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Her book Recipes for Good Luck: The Superstitions, Rituals, and Practices of Extraordinary People contains some fascinating and funny habits.

  • Thom Yorke prepares for live concerts with a headstand ritual
  • NASA engineers eat peanuts before every launch as a lucky charm
  • Picasso held on to his fingernail clippings to maintain his spiritual “essence”
  • Frida Kahlo painted plants and flowers from her desk, looking over her garden

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Creative people can be a bit superstitious, to say the least. As Seth Godin likes to say, “we’re all weird.”

Whatever you do to keep your edge, do it.

(All images courtesy Chronicle Books)

Writing through sheets of ice

#writing #creativity #pen #focus #creative #whattowrite #brainstorm #thinking
via priooor

You bought the new notebook, snagged a new pen, and listened to a motivational podcast. You’re ready to do the work!

But two things happen as you start…

1 – You freeze. The thoughts in your head never make it to the tip of the pen. The brain trips up on its own wiring of ideas. Warning!

2 – You get going but know that what’s splurging on paper is crap. You’re producing sheets of melting ice. The writing is ugly, an explosion of everything at once. Such cacophony melts your heart, deadens your spirit.

The urge to quit and give in to the resistance smatters dreams. But that’s because goals set the bar too high.

What if instead of focusing on the goal you focused on the system instead?

Systems or habits are more powerful than fears. Discipline overrides motivation. The real work happens when you make it a habit to sit down at the desk and write hundreds of words regardless of the outcome. And now you’ve got something to play with.

Writes James Clear in “The case for having no goals in your life”:

“Goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress.”Click To Tweet
It takes a long time to strike the chord you seek. The rest of the time you are practicing in attempt to nail it down. Often times it is one edit that makes all the difference. Stuckness also propels you to get out of your comfort zone. Taking on new challenges such as public speaking can push your creative potential. Even bad experiences give you fresh ideas and force you into new territories.

The muse only works in your favor if you’re willing to be consistent and put in the work. “Remember our rule of thumb,” writes Steven Pressfield in The War of Art, “The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

The rest — the Moleskine notebook, the perfect pen, the dreamy goal — are excuses that trip you up.

The structured procrastination strategy

gif by @breather

The biggest trick about email is that it gives you the feeling you’ve done something. Every time you open an email, your head lights up like a Christmas tree.

Can you imagine sitting outside your snail mail mailbox and opening it up twenty times a day? That’s a waste of time.

Running on the dopamine trail disrupts your productivity. What you could do instead is structure your procrastination so you get other stuff done. The father of structured procrastination is Stanford professor John Perry, author of The Art of Procrastination (Amazon). He writes:

All procrastinators put off things they have to do. Structured procrastination is the art of making this bad trait work for you. The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it.

Procrastination does not mean doing nothing!

Don’t beat yourself up for avoiding things at the top of the list. Chew on them while you go to work on something else. It’s the overthinking and doing nothing that tears you apart.

Note that staying busy does not mean checking Facebook. Social networks and their variable rewards are even more addicting than email.

Keep in mind that you’ll have to put your ass in the chair and dance with the anxiety at some point.

Procrastinators can be finishers. Until then, reframe procrastination by doing important smaller things.

How to sustain momentum when we’re already on a roll

 

rick rubin

We all know what it feels like to be on a roll. The enthusiasm synchs up with the effort to produce a feeling of flow. The vibe is right.

But what goes up must come down

Inspiration ebbs. Motivation falters. Humans are inconsistent.

Advises record producer and co-founder of Def Jam Records Rick Rubin:

“When on a roll of any kind, always maintain it as long as possible. Momentum isn’t always easy to conjure.”

The dip is inevitable. To sustain momentum, consider that discipline is the backbone of motivation. Habits push us on the days we don’t feel like working.

Like an improvisational jazz player, we’re always in tune, ready before it’s time.

Toward perennial

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@koba-illustration

All we are trying to do is get people to slow down in this fast-paced, dizzying world, and consider our work.

First, we have to earn attention. Then, we have to win trust. Then, we have to convince people to come back without a carrot, flash, or a prompt.

Standing out in a world of ubiquitous ads, SEO hacks, and influencer polluters are hard. 

The machines give people what they think they want: more vulgarity. 

People are unaware of what they want and why they want it.

The dopamine-spitting hooks cultivating attention may be killer. But they’ve already outlined their destination to the end.

Honest, timeless work comes pre-optimized. It races to the top, albeit more in the pace of a tortoise rather than a hare.

Creativity: Faith in process, faith in rest

gif by @njorg

Your best ideas come when you’re not trying your best but when you’re not trying at all.

Ideas hit you when you’re resting, when your mind is at ease. This is because the mind never shuts off. It’s always processing knowledge, thoughts, and experience even in a perceived dormant state. Says composer and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda:

“A good idea doesn’t come when you’re doing a million things. The good idea comes in the moment of rest. It comes in the shower. It comes when you’re doodling or playing trains with your son. It’s when your mind is on the other side of things.”

Creativity is always awake

Creativity is always awake but it needs time to bloom. It takes in new information and gets feedback along the way. Furthermore, there’s no such thing as a eureka moment. A good idea is an accumulation of bad ones, cleaned up and simplified through trial and error.

Above all, something magical seems to happy though when you step away and let the brain do the work. It makes its own unforced connections.

Discovery is not a matter of giving up but giving in to the process of waiting while keeping the faith.

‘The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it’

the war of art steven pressfield

“Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it. The more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no resistance.”

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

‘The right to disconnect’ 📱

Stop working from home and get some rest. Even better, plan some unscheduled time.

Sincerely,

France

Wait, what?

On January 1st of this year, France passed the ‘right to disconnect‘ law which enforces a digital diet outside working hours. The rule prohibits employers from calling or emailing employees during personal time. France already imposes 35-hour works weeks.

It’s still too early to tell if French citizens are actually abiding by the rule meant to restore sanity in our always-on culture. But the intent is the right one: we need to create more space for relaxation. Keep in mind that our brains are working even when they’re powered off 💤. Disconnecting is a right, even if it feels a little foreign to put to rectangular glow aside

The burn of discontent

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Everything starts and ends from the burn of discontent.

We all have an inkling for something, a dormant enthusiasm, waiting to erupt so we can pour our hearts into it.

But the wait is killer. Toiling in anonymity while practicing in mediocrity needs a special kind of patience.

The resistance can only win at our own capitulation. The work is all that matters. Self-promotion is a form of confidence.

We must seek the respect we deserve

No one is going to announce our emergence. All we can ask for is consistency. The only talisman is the heart and head work.


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