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Creativity Productivity & Work

Reexamining the Kiss Principle

“Keep it simple and stupid.” That was the acronym coined by aircraft engineer Clarence Johnson during the early 1930s. He proposed the “H” style tail for airplanes which helped stabilize flight.

Keeping it simple is always easier said than done. What may appear visually simple, took a deduction of complex details.

We don’t get to simplicity without amassing a pile of disparate parts first and then building shitty first drafts.

Complexity is often hidden within the design — such as the case with Apple products and apps like Instagram which appear simple on the outside but contain convoluted architecture and code on the inside.  

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” said Leonardo da Vinci, who painted over pieces that didn’t meet expectations. Artists like Pablo Picasso and writers like Ernest Hemingway edited down their pieces, again and again, to reduce their craft into the most practicable and understood forms.

Erasing difficulties requires patience of experimentation. It takes both head and heart work to minimize the unnecessary while maximizing utility in powerfully simple ways.

With a bit more curiosity and execution, we can turn less into more.

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Creativity Productivity & Work

It’s never too late to do something incredible

Everything good takes time.

We have to get comfortable with the idea that the work worth doing almost always never comes to fruition immediately.

Our craft is also likely to be misunderstood for long periods. There will be periods of self-doubt and chapters of confusion, all signals that the muse wants us to keep going.

If we’re 100% certain about where we’re headed, then we need a little more nuance and complexity in our life.

Being vulnerable and taking on challenges fuel aliveness, preventing one from getting too satisfied with results.

As the Japanese artist Hokusai said:

“Until the age of 70, nothing I drew was worthy of notice. At 110, every dot and every stroke will be as though alive.”

Hokusai

If we work on something long enough, it should look just as simple and confounding as when we first found it.

Categories
Books Writing

‘Good work only comes through revision’

After a lifetime of hounding authors for advice, I’ve heard three truths from every mouth: (1) Writing is painful— it’s ‘fun’ only for novices, the very young, and hacks; (2) other than a few instances of luck, good work only comes through revision; (3) the best revisers often have reading habits that stretch back before the current age, which lends them a sense of history and raises their standards for quality.”

THE ART OF MEMOIR BY MARY KARR
Categories
Arts Creativity Life & Philosophy

Chaos and structure

There’s beauty in chaos — when the outcome is limitless, ripe with multiple interpretations. Thus is nature.

It is structure that intends to display meaning. The mind stops guessing at identification, shielded with the brain’s umbrella from the books of rain.

Certain things require definition

Stairs need to be intuitive enough to walk and up and down. However, silly putty asks to be flexed and misunderstood. Both are pieces of art, finished or unfinished.

Art requires mixing materials. The end product just needs to work, perfect or carefully disorganized.

The freedom to create is also the freedom to appear unfinished, spaces left vacant for the curious mind to fill in. “One must have chaos within oneself to give birth to a dancing star,” said Nietzsche.

One never overcomes the chaos — they merely live in it.

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Arts Creativity Writing

Why Leonardo da Vinci wrote backward

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 ink. 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”

Categories
Arts Creativity Productivity & Work

Doing something is better than doing nothing

A lot of people never start because of the fear of imperfection. But when it comes to creating, something is better than nothing.

That something could be as little as a blog post — private or public — a diary entry, a podcast, a simple doodle, or if you prefer to speak through images, an Instagram post.

The habit of making and sharing your art builds confidence. Of course, there will always be others that want to put a dent in your endeavors but most people are encouraging.

Show up and do the work

Even more, two things happen when you show up to produce every day.

1. Your craft improves.

2. You establish an archive of work to pull from.

Once your daily practice of making art is set in the stone and you’ve kicked down the frustration barrier that prevents so many from being consistent, then you can go back and pull inspiration from your work.

“The unknown was my compass.”

Anais Nin

New ideas will bloom from the stems of your first drafts, especially the shitty ones. You’ll start making connections and flag concepts that need further elaboration or clarification.

The best thinking emerges when you give your work time to breathe. Reflection increases the sophistication of one’s knowledge and experience.

Through this journey, it’ll start to become clear what types of trade you enjoy, what you want to be known for, and where you want to spend the most time improving.

Creativity is not rocket science. But it requires diligence, impatience with action, and patience with trial and error.

The professional shows up on both the good days and the bad days to hack away at their inner genie. There are zero shortcuts to building quality and long-lasting output.

gif by youngcoconut

Categories
Creativity Life & Philosophy Poetry Productivity & Work

Open to detours

Open to detours, fixated with the wrath of curiosity. The single-minded goal-setter scrounges for practice.

In theory, doggedness is the least path of resistance. Like sheep, we’re a magnet for jumping through hoops.

But we can’t afford to put the right brain to sleep. Quiescent until unmoored from reality, the maker begs to turn pipe dreams into miracles.

The creative compulsion knows no boundaries. It explodes in those non-cash working hours when you’re raging with inspiration and where the notion of work and play intertwine.

“The physical universe is basically playful. There is no necessity for it whatsoever. It isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t have a destination that it ought to arrive at. But it is best understood by its analogy to music. Because music as an art form is essentially playful. We say you play the piano, you don’t work the piano.”

Alan Watts

We’re programmed to be ourselves, following the siren song of our vocation. Fight our calling, and we’ll lose. There will be no such luck.

Categories
Creativity Life & Philosophy Psychology

Enjoy the silence

Silence is the loudest sound — unprovoked, it can screech worse than nails on a chalkboard.

The pursuit of distraction is man’s attempt to escape the cacophony of a deaf monkey mind.

To break from mental prison, we conjure up an oasis of sound: Facebook or TV, dual-screens, infinitely scrolling through feeds and channels without remembering a thing.

The content Ferris wheel never ends. The circus rages on, burning into a dead-end of doldrums.

Perhaps the noiseless, originally our worst fear, is the pocket of sanity we needed all along.

gif by Carolina Costa

Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Work x “Work”

There are two types of work:

  1. Work that you do for fun
  2. Work that pays the bills

The first is sexy and fuels your creativity. These are typically side projects that you wish would one day turn into a long-term job that pays the bills.

The second type of work is the one you do to live. These are your standard projects and office jobs that support a commercial company. They’re not sexy but they’re reassuring and provide enough cash flow to do more creative work.

The difference between the sexy and the dependable types of work is what Hugh MacLeod calls the Sex and Cash Theory.

There’s always friction to create stuff that matters, at least to you, versus creating stuff that maintains someone else’s bottom line. Both nonetheless complement each other as an influence of skills. It’s all practice, anyway.

The end-goal for all creators is the fusion of sex and cash, to get paid for doing what you love. But even that sometimes runs its course. Whatever you end up doing, at work or on the side, make it a good one!

Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Tech

Making meaning removes meaning

gif by John Walters

Making meaning removes meaning. What we make is what we want to make. The only supervisor is ourselves.

But we do need signals — something that tells us that we’re moving in the right direction.

“The muse has to know where to find you.”

Billy Wilder

Accept professions but don’t become them

Tied up in labor, we forget that the day job is the means of survival. Home is where the real sex happens, where we enjoy the liberty to play and rage into our work.

Doing the work we enjoy is the best use of our time. After all, more time is better than money.

Paradoxically, everything we don’t want to do feeds our basic survival. That’s why such priorities always feel somehow aslant.