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.

3 things a day

Here’s a thought experiment – if you could do three things for an hour every day to achieve your goals, what would they be?

Personally, if I could exercise, read and write each day for an hour, it might make a huge difference.

However, today was not so productive. If you took today as a representation of my long term goals, you might think that my life goals are to get fat, to buy as much new tech and apple products as possible and to write emails.

I’m getting good at those three activities.

Tomorrow is another day. I plan to carry on reading my book about interior design and well being, to write the blog and to do some sort of exercise.

Happy (late) Tuesday, chimps.

Writing habits

Do you remember the first time you fell in love? Of course you do. Kind of like discovering chocolate for the first time, you just wanted more and more.

My first proper relationship was notable in that it was mostly long distance. Soon after we met I went overseas to study and decided to pour my heart and soul into keeping the relationship going. And a writing habit was born.

We were prolific. The amount of words written in letters, emails and text messages was at an almost Shakespearean quantity. Every single day, for months on end. Quality was highly questionable, but quantity was admirable.

This laid the groundwork for blogging and writing regularly for the rest of my life to date. I’m thankful. Thankful for the habit, thankful for this blog, and thankful my current relationship is in person.

What are the origins of your habits?

Happy Monday chimps.

If you do nothing

If you do nothing then the ants and rats and algae will come. They start in the shadows, taking the grime and food and dirt that builds up around the edges. But the more they get away with it, the bolder they will get.

Soon your pool is green. Soon your house has an ant trail marching all the way into the kitchen and back to an underground nest. Soon the rats are so emboldened they find a way into your dustbins, your garage, your car.

Atrophy is the enemy. His best friends are algae, ants and rats. Fight back.

Motivation vs discipline

I can’t think of anything to write. It’s often the way with writing. Or painting. Or creating anything.

Sure, every now and then the words flow like wine from a carafe. Sweet muse does her thing and inspiration hits. But most of the time it feels more like squeezing water out of a rock.

What helps in these situations is discipline and routine. This forces you to do some work despite the way you feel. Open the laptop. Write something. Anything. Go through the motions.

And there’s another blog post.

Discomfort and tequila

I just watched a motivational clip which told me I had to “embrace discomfort”.

This reminded me of a friend of mine who used to have a party trick. He would order a tequila with all the lime and salt as usual. But he would do everything wrong. He’d snort the salt up his nose, squirt the lime in his eyes and then drink the liquor. He would punish himself for our amusement, but I don’t think it was worth it.

I’m going to try and wake up early and be productive tomorrow despite my desires to lie in.

Embrace discomfort….while drinking responsibly….unless there’s comedy value.

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.