Productivity & Work Writing

Writing through sheets of ice

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 are more powerful than fears because discipline always 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 only then do you get 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.”

It takes a long time to strike the chord you seek. The rest of the time you’re practicing with the intent to nail it down. Even bad sentences or bad experiences give you fresh ideas and force you into new territories. Other times it is one edit that makes all the difference.

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.

Life & Philosophy Writing

In search of a writing process

That blank page screams at you with all its anxiety for you to fill it in. But starting from scratch can be intimidating, especially when anything goes.

It’s not surprising that so many aspiring writers quit their canvass–it’s so much easier to avoid the pain of inconsistency. That’s where a productive writing system comes in.

Instead of waiting for inspiration, you set a schedule for the muse to wake up. Whether you can squeeze in an hour between 5 – 7 AM or find time to write during lunch break at work, the practice has to get done. The method is everything. Everything is practice.

What you write isn’t as important as the process itself. Some days (i.e., most days), what spews out the ink is garbage. However, nothing goes unused.

That weak sentence or kernel of an idea resurface in more lucid prose in the future.

Words are tools for making stuff.

And the more one sits down to yank them out of the head and onto paper, screen, whatever–the more likely it is to do it again and keep going regardless of how the person feels. When in doubt, the processes that worked before.

In search of clarity, it only comes through at the result of the work.


Creativity Debunks the 10,000 Rule of Deliberate Practice

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10,000 hours of practice works for excelling your golf game or your accounting skills. It’s less meaningful though when it comes to creativity.

Creativity is an evolution. If you’re doing the same stuff as you did on the last project or even yesterday it might get stale. Creators strive for originality. That’s why Beyonce’s “Lemonade” release it a smash. It’s like nothing she’s done before. She’s inspiring others by showing both vulnerability and strength against the husband/mogul (Tidal tyrant) that is Jay-Z, whether you like her music or not.

Note: I’m not a fan of Beyonce. I’m not a fan of anything popular, really. But I do admire her consistent originality, to go places where others don’t. Of course, you might say she can do that because she’s Beyonce. True, but she could also just wear another weird dress like Lady Gaga and expect it to create conversation. It doesn’t. People get bored of the same concept. Even Instagram is boring, but that’s another read.

Creativity is a life practice, not just a 10,000-hour rule of thumb. The stringent execution of doing something the same way, again and again, is mind-numbing for those that dare to think different.

Read Creativity Is Much More Than 10,000 Hours of Deliberate Practice

Apps Social Media

Reading: A 21st-Century Migrant’s Essentials: Food, Shelter, Smartphone

I joked 3 weeks ago on Instagram that all you really need is ‘wifi and water.’ But it’s not far from the truth for migrants in today’s world.

“Every time I go to a new country, I buy a SIM card and activate the Internet and download the map to locate myself.”

Today’s migrants are bypassing traffickers and instead choosing to travel on their own, using tips from others shared on social media.

Migrants are a microcosm of what Westerners do locally, every day: check Google Maps, share their experiences online, and learn from each other so they can navigate life themselves. We’re all DIY digital nomads.

New York Times:  “A 21st-Century Migrant’s Essentials: Food, Shelter, Smartphone

Speaking of learning things online, a “Kenyan won the gold medal in javelin after learning how to throw on YouTube.”

“My coach is me, and the YouTube videos,” Yego said. Why? “Everybody in Kenya is a runner.”


Mastery > Passion

When’s the last time you were excited about something you were bad at?

Mastery leads to passion.

Instead of looking for something you love, which tends to change the older you get any way, look and do things you’re naturally or already good at. If you continue to harness those skills you’ll become scarce and therefore highly valued.

Summary: Don’t look for passion. Ride the skills that make you unique. That’s what creates passion.


Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

I can’t think of any way to get better at anything without repeating it again and again. Repetition hooks the mind, enabling the subconscious to take responsibility for your actions.

But it also helps to enjoy what you’re practicing. Excellence occurs when practice feels like playing, so much that the real work or live games are often easier. Repeating something you dislike or that has little value can create rebellion and convince you to quit altogether.

Practice requires a lot of time, patience, and sucking. Does practice make perfect? Yes, but only if you actually like it.

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