Research and writing

If you want to write a good book, you need to know something about the subject matter. This sounds silly and obvious, but it’s not. The question to ask is when do I know ENOUGH about the subject?

Enough to teach a 4 year old? Enough to give a speech? Enough to pass the exam?

The search for enough is the most fruitless search and it never ends. Research never ends. We need to be able to handle that truth if we want to be an expert at anything.

Rather focus on the process itself. The contribution to the culture. You need to enjoy the research and creation process, rather than obsess over the result being enough of anything.

Easy to say, hard to do.

Happy Wednesday chimps.

The Weekend Jungle

Weekends turn our house into a jungle. For some reason as a family we fall into chaos – dishes build up in the sink, toys scatter around the house. The garden is no better.

This weekend was particularly bad. At one stage the house and garden resembled the Amazon, and there were two doors that wouldn’t lock, leaving our house vulnerable to…..well to anyone who may have wanted to walk in.

The jungle also compounds. As things get more chaotic, the effort required to bring it back feels greater and greater, and so you just put it off which leads to more jungle creeping in.

But slowly, once the children were asleep, we managed to clean up. I managed to lock up the doors and we escaped the jungle just before bed time. It was a close call though.

Happy Monday chimps.

What is it for?

Designers will tell you over and over – if you are creating something, the question that should come up most often is “what is this for?”

This applies to all creative pursuits whether it is writing a paragraph, cooking a meal, or fitting a bathroom sink. Any choice you make needs to have an answer if it is to work and avoid a clumsy creation.

So what’s this blog post for? It’s for expressing myself, for practicing my writing and for spreading ideas that I think will matter. And for community – for finding people like us who do things like this.

Happy Wednesday chimps.

Bail out mindsets and remedies

Sometimes my brain will flick a switch and bail out. Just like a wrestler tapping out of a choke hold, when my stresses build up and become too much, the brain seems to automatically hide from responsibility. It searches memories for simpler times and childhood. Sadness creeps in. The search for distraction and pleasure creeps in. It bails out of life. This happens quickly and quietly.

Inevitably when this happens, and when I take the time to look at my life, I will see a pattern emerging. Usually this “bail out” mindset happens when I haven’t looked after myself in one of three ways. Either I haven’t done any exercise in a while, I haven’t done anything artistic in a while, or I’m not sleeping enough. Or some combination of the three.

So yesterday my brain bailed out. So I ran in the afternoon….yes….endorphins! Then i went to bed early. Today I’ll try find some time to doodle on the guitar or work on the podcast….Yeah, the podcast I reckon.

Do what you can. Which is more than you think.

The price of art

Art is subjective. But to my mind, as an artist the price you place on a piece of art is reliant on three major drivers – marketing, reputation and purpose.

Marketing – this boils down to the things that can be defined and measured and tracked. Who is the piece of art aimed at? What is the minimum viable audience? Who is expecting your message as something anticipated, personal and relevant? The clearer this is in your head as an artist, the easier it is to price your work.

Reputation – this is linked to perseverance and track record. The idea of showing up and consistently shipping what you say you will ship is important when you need to put a price on your work. With each promise you keep, your reputation is solidified and this gains you a most valuable form of currency in the internet age – attention. Wit attention comes pricing power.

Purpose – Are you trying to change the culture, and by how much? A couple of examples run through my head:

  • Your purpose may be not ambitious enough – As an artist, you are well known as a ‘reproducer of the masters’. All you ever do with your art skills is reproduce Van Gogh paintings for tourists to buy as cheap mementos. In order to remain relevant to your chosen market (and it is a choice) you have to keep on churning out the sunflowers and keep the pricing at a level defined by the going rate for copies of others’ paintings. It’s not changing the culture, it might make you a living, but the prices remain low and the labor required very high. In essence you are a factory selling a commodity.
  • Your purpose may be too ambitious – a performance artist wants to rid the world of human trafficking through the clarity and poignancy of her message. Dancing and reciting her viscous poetry on the street corner, she ends up shouting at passers by who do not give her much attention or currency. Her stated purpose was too broad and difficult to achieve. Her market is not refined enough. Her price bottoms out.

What makes you pay a particular price for art?

Keeping it alive

Daily life can most often be distilled down to a single question: should I keep this alive?

Whether it is a pet fish, a job, a relationship, a website: burn the dead wood.

And possibly the goldfish??

Happy Tuesday chimps.

Pull it back

Recover from that setback, that fall from grace, that injury.

Given that entropy rules, and the world naturally falls apart, recovery is perhaps the most important thing we can strive for. The only thing to strive for. Recovery from whatever is wearing you down – be it lack of sleep, lack of money, lack of fitness – this is really all we have.

In the road to recovery you are either getting better, or you are getting worse. There is no steady state. Time marches on and age is a bitch. But free will allows you to fight back and recovery time after time. So recover. Do it for yourself and do it every second of every day. If you stop trying, then you lose.

You’ll still lose eventually. But recovery from all the bumps along the way is where potential is met and where the great moments are found.

Pull it back, until the next bump comes along.

Play Games

Playing games is important to me. In my life, Games come up all over the place.

If I find something difficult then it helps me to think of it as a game. This approach makes things less stressful and lowers my anxiety. Elon Musk says we might all just be living in a simulation. Sometimes it helps to think of life in that way. A few examples of play as it manifests in my life:

  • Playing with the kids at whatever game they have going
  • Treating menial parenting tasks as a game
  • Comedy and conversation with friends
  • Computer games
  • Sport and exercise including data on health
  • Social media accounts
  • Music – listening and playing music is a beautiful game
  • Work
  • Podcasts
  • Blogging 😉
  • More and more I see life as one big bunch of games to play.
  • Some people are not good at playing. Doodling, Riffing, Games, Jokes, Humor are seen as a waste of time. I can’t understand this approach to life.
  • Happy Wednesday, chimps.
  • Podcast ambitions

    Today I am starting to work on a new series of podcasts for the blog.

    This is a misleading statement because as yet I don’t know what it’ll be about, who will be on it or how many I will do.

    Perhaps more accurate would be to say I am starting to think about starting to work on the podcast!

    One idea is to use the blog itself as a resource, looking back over the most popular posts I have written and use them as a guide for podcast topics.

    But like I say – still early days. So watch this space, and prime your ears in the meantime 🙂