What I learned last week (#106)

Cactus in a pot. Illustration.

Quote I enjoyed:

“Ninety percent of good writing is rewriting.”

Charles Johnson

Book excerpt I was thinking about:

“Writing is selection. Just to start a piece of writing you have to choose one word and only one from more than a million in the language. Now keep going. What is your next word? Your next sentence, paragraph, section, chapter? Your next ball of fact. You select what goes in and you decide what stays out. At base you have only one criterion: If something interests you, it goes in—if not, it stays out. That’s a crude way to assess things, but it’s all you’ve got.” (John McPhee, Draft No. 4)

This struck me as some of the best decision-making/life advice I have ever heard.

Robert Macfarlane on ‘The Living Mountain’

Just listen to this little 4 minute clip. I bought the book.

🗒 Note to get out into the hills sometime soon. Look for a walking club maybe?

Projects versus tasks:

I love this kind of stuff, but don’t necessarily agree with (or maybe understand completely) what Cal is referring to when he says that “most of the projects that move the needle in my career — working on a research paper, writing a major article — never get discretized into bite-size actions on a list. I instead treat them with the level of intention that their formidable difficulty deserves.”

So what do you do with them exactly?

For the sake of example, let’s tackle how I might schedule Nathan’s War and Peace case study:

Description of the project in my Quarterly Plan: “One of my goals this winter is to finish reading War and Peace, while taking good notes on each chapter.”

Sample Weekly Plan note about this project: “Put aside 30 minutes for lunch each day this week, and work on War and Peace while eating. The one exception is Thursday, as I have a lunch scheduled with Diana.”

Sample time block schedule: Every day of the week, with the exception of Thursday, includes a 30-minute time block labeled “lunch + W&P.” When I get to that block, I know exactly what I need to be working on.

Joosting: The Key to Creativity:

Most of us say we want to be creative—and we want the people we work with and for to be creative. The concept of jootsing reveals why we often end up preventing that from happening. Creativity is impossible without in some way going against rules that exist for a good reason.

Psychologists Jacob Getzels and Phillip Jackson studied creativity in the 1950s. Their findings were repeated across many studies and described what was termed as the Getzels-Jackson effect: “The vast majority—98 percent—of teachers say creating is so important that it should be taught daily, but when tested, they nearly always favor less creative children over more creative children.”

Kevin Ashton, in How to Fly a Horse, explains why. Teachers favor less creative children “because people who are more creative also tend to be more playful, unconventional, and unpredictable, and all of this makes them harder to control. No matter how much we say we value creation, deep down, most of us value control more. And so we fear change and favor familiarity. Rejecting is a reflex.” Ashton notes that the Getzels-Jackson effect is also present in the organizations we are a part of in adulthood. When the same tests are applied to decision-makers and authority figures in business, science, and government, the results are the same: they all say they value creation, but it turns out they don’t value creators.

The Creative Process in 43 Hayao Miyazaki Screengrabs:

View the full thread (a must!).

(Some of) My favorite things of 2020:

This was a fun post and I continue to think about how I might make it better next year. This got me thinking of writing the story you want to tell before you do it…

Other stuff that I learned or was grateful for this week:

  • Working with Vivi on addition and subtraction math problems, revisiting the methods I used to use and practicing the same routines repeatedly has been meditative and fun.
  • My little nap at 5pm while the kids were watching TV was bliss. Each day I get one of these naps is golden.
  • Worked and hung out a little bit with the kids and Kav but not very much (this was Thursday). ☹️
  • Taco night!
  • Made waffles!
  • Played Minecraft Dungeons with the kids for the first time. I have played a little Diablo 3 in my day but overall am not that familiar with the genre of dungeon crawler. However, this was a lot of fun to play co-op together and the production values are fantastic. Impressive!

Childhood is fleeting:

Birds flew above us while walking in the field. 

Beautiful site. Where are they going?

Vivi was on my shoulders for the first time in awhile. 

Later she reminded me that she loved that. 

I already miss her.

Last-but-not-least, check out what I’m up to now.

The Creative Process in 43 Hayao Miyazaki Screengrabs:

(Context: http://sbtl.info/hayao)

ErdC9 WVkAcYLde
ErdC vvVgAI39R
ErdDe rU0AQSJrn
ErdDm 3VEAEylSi
ErdDrj UYAE30y
ErdD aeUcAAJ3l2
ErdEv9fU0AEcm v

Well, this blew up. For more tales of creative suffering, be sure to check out my newsletter 😜


Originally tweeted by Mason Currey (@masoncurrey) on January 11, 2021.

One response

  1. I am enjoying each of your blogs – they are so filled with wonderful information, links, recommendations, etc. that I can barely get my head around them! You, my friend, are a fearless creator – not afraid to show your struggle with the emotions we must all deal with during the course of our sojourn. Your site does have an overarching theme – but your posts are like a smorgasbord of ideas! I love the way you have categorized what you have learned as separate pages! As I approach 70, I wish I had a list of all the books that have influenced me over the years (they are threatening to ‘groan the boards’ of my house as I have kept most of them).

Comments welcome!

%d bloggers like this: