A New Rundown

Postponed the Rundown for me to ruminate on six months of daily posting yesterday. I still can’t believe it.

My goal with the weekly rundown was to share things of value, and not waste anyone’s time. I’m not sure that it’s been exactly as I intended. Most weeks I struggle to find something to at least list as what I’m listening to or doing. And they’re not actionable by anyone reading. Beyond that, I’ve been delinquent in monthly reading lists for December and January, so I need to rectify that as well.

What then should a weekly rundown from me look like? As I consider it, I’ll probably try a few different things. It’ll likely change with Alaska influencing me as well.

Anyway, here are just a couple of things I’m sharing with you this week.

Why not?

The key to all creative thinking is to ask, “Why not?” The most innovative thinkers don’t view the world as it is, but as it might be. And while there are many blocks that prevent us from looking in such a way as to imagine new possibilities, the potential is there all the same.

When investigating a problem, don’t assume something won’t work just because it hasn’t been tried before. Remember to ask, “Why not?”

 

Making time to create

More often than not, when pressed for time we give up our own ambitions or creative work to make room for other things. The challenge, then, is to not push aside our creative work. Make time. Chisel it in stone into your calendar.

This is my time, for my creative work. It will not be altered.

Force yourself to work, and hold yourself accountable. That’s how to make meaningful projects come to life.

Find your focus

With so many things on your plate, it’s easy to try and take it all at once. But figuring out where to place your focus will pay dividends in getting things done.

But how? Which items to take your attention, and which to postpone?

Those questions are similar, but the answers are unique to each individual. But regardless of what you have lined up to do, make sure you’re spending time on real work – work that you find motivating and important. Otherwise, nothing else you do will matter.

Art, democratized

The process and product of art is democratized, thanks in large part to the internet. While industrialized creative endeavors fought against the innovations, the movement has progressed regardless.

Now it’s easier than ever to find your audience, identify common needs, and create a tribe. The most important thing, then, is to start.

Common sense

This blog could almost be called Common Sense. I’m not really giving novel ideas. Some may be in a form uniquely “me”, but there’s not much here that couldn’t be said by someone else.

I’m reminded of Thomas Paine, and his Common Sense.

“In the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense: and have no other preliminaries to settle with the reader, than that he will divest himself of prejudice and prepossession, and suffer his reason and his feelings to determine for themselves that he will put on, or rather that he will not put off, the true character of a man, and generously enlarge his views beyond the present day.”

Sometimes it’s all about getting the idea out. It may not be about who’s receiving the idea as much as it is the idea bubbling up and out of you until you cannot possibly contain it.

There are days when ideas seem to have completely left the building. There are days when one singular idea is all that you can see – blocking out every other item in such a way that you must concentrate solely on it.

And then there are the common sense ideas – ones that mean much to you and, you hope, at least one other person.

Keeping it going

I am behind. I know, it happens. But it seems that this week, and last, has kept me more busy than I’ve been in several months.

Trying to create time to write, to read, to produce other work, and to sell, has been a juggling act like little I’ve had to do before. So how do I do it?

Writing I am just eking out, one post at a time. Reading, less so. A stack of books is piled by my bed, and other stacks on and around the bookshelf. Other work? Well, that’s another story.

I guess the silver lining is I’m selling well, and should be making enough pay to finance my trip to Alaska next week. Hard to believe it’s less than seven days away. I’m looking forward to writing from there.

Consume vs. create

There are moments when we choose whether to be consumers or creators. When we can write or read. Turn on the tv, or dream with our eye open. Listen to the radio, or sing to our own song.

There is a time for both – to be a consumer and to be a creator. But we are not here to consume. We are here to create.

Always remember that.

Maximizing energy

I’m a little over a month in to a new sales job (one of my many avenues for income). I’m on a strict schedule, mostly, and my mornings are starting much earlier than I’ve been used to over the past four years. So, I’m tracking my energy through an Excel spreadsheet, along with other metrics that I think will influence my well-being and state of mind.

Sleep hours, quality of food, quality of day, supplements taken, and creative hours are among the metrics that I’m listing. I may even start breaking down each meal and time I take it in to see where my energy peaks and troughs are. This may sound somewhat obsessive, but biohacking has been an interest of mine for several years now. It’ll be fun to play around with my performance habits.

Just play

Why have I taken to writing every month that first post about the books I bought and the books I read? It’s a blatant copying of the format Nick Hornby created for his column in The Believer, and I can’t imagine that I could do it better than him. Yet, I still write the post.

the simple fact is, I do it because I’m searching for my voice. It’s a voice that gets stuck inside me. And when it finally comes out as I hear it, I’ll be doing (what I hope will be) wholly original work. Until then, I play. I experiment.

Neil Gaiman has talked extensively on writing, both about his process and on the craft as a whole. One piece of advice that I find particularly pertinent to this post is a response to a Tumblr question: “…try things out. Enjoy yourself. If you find a writer you like, write like them. And then sound like something else. Write anything. Don’t worry about it being good or read by other people. Just play, and play a lot.”

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

-Ira Glass