The downside of Internet democracy

“Our cultural canon is becoming determined by whatever gets the most clicks.”

May this never be said about you. I have learned it better to say “I don’t know enough about that topic to offer an opinion that’s worth anything” than to dive shallowly into the waters of our cultural current.

New York Times

The value of 54,750 minutes

I think people seriously underestimate what 15 minutes a day for 10 years will do versus 10 hours a day for a year. If you do little bits and pieces every day, after a while, you have this body of work.

Austin Kleon to 99u

That’s 54,750 minutes vs. 21,900 minutes and it’s incredibly important. I also liked what Kleon said about creating a daily ritual that is a launching pad of sorts into other work:

I think that’s why it’s so important to have a daily practice that you do no matter what you are working on. My thing is that I make one of these blackout poems every day. I just do it every day, no matter what. It gets me in the zone. Then, from there, I can work on different things.  

My “thing” for my Oklahoma State sports blog is what I’ve dubbed the “Bullets.” A roundup of OSU stories from around the web. From there I get ideas from posts and plan out my day. It’s my, as Kleon called it, “launching pad.”

Don’t let the world dictate your efficiency

There are a book’s worth of things I like better about writing and blogging at home for a living than I did about going to an office job and working for a nice, smart company for a living.

Chief among those might be the efficiency with which I get paid.

Before, at my office job, I got paid for hours. I was physically in a certain place for a certain number of hours and in exchange for that my bank account was padded every two weeks or twice a month or whatever it was.

Now, I get paid for work. I dictate the terms. I make less money but I also am required to physically be in a specific location for a lot fewer hours than I used to be.

To me, that tradeoff is priceless.

Don’t confuse how much money is worth with how much time is worth.

And don’t let the world dictate your work rules.

Positions of power

I’m reading a book right now called The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction and I came upon a passage that hit me sideways a little bit. Those are my favorite passages, of course, and this one has been on my mind all day.

The Russian polymath Mikhail Bakhtin — one of the titanic minds of the twentieth century, though too neglected now — believed that in a dialogue the position of primacy is with the person who listens rather than the one who first speaks. 

After all, he said, we do not speak unless we anticipate a response; and we shape what we say in light of possible reactions.

This applies to writing, too. The way people respond shapes what I write. I don’t write into a vacuum.

People like to opine about writing “because they must” which I guess is a thing but it seems to me a fairly unique one.

I write because real people read and maybe I was wrong all along about which of us holds the cards.

Diversity in the absorption of ideology

I might not subscribe to a diverse array of ideals but I agree with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s viewpoint that one should at least be open.

Here’s what he said:

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and retain the ability to function.”

My high school baseball coach used to tell us “don’t copy the way one person swings or throws — take bits and pieces that you like from everyone and apply it to your own self.”

I think the same thing applies here.

What are your candy-store hours?

In Daily Rituals Mason Currey writes about a man names Isaac Asimov and his candy-story hours. His dad owned candy stores in Brooklyn and they were open from 6 AM to 1 AM every day (and night).

The quote from the book is tremendous.

“I must have liked the long hours, for in later life I never took the attitude of ‘I’ve worked hard all my childhood and youth and now I’m going to take it easy and sleep till noon.’

“Quite the contrary. I have kept the candy-store hours all my life.”

I think Asimov is what the kids call “a grinder.” And what a grind it was. According to this New York Times article from 1969 he had already produced over 7.5 million words worth of books at age 50.

He went on to live 22 more year so there’s little doubt he touched 10 million.

Also, this from that article is just awesome:

When he was 16, his father dipped into the somewhat lean till of the candy store to buy him a secondhand typewriter, and young Isaac was, in effect, off to the races.

My candy-store hours are not as excessive but they’re still structured. Arise by six and (try to get in) bed by 11. Every day if I can. I write and exercise in the mornings, lunch with my family, and write and read and think in the afternoons. I shut it all off at night.

It’s important to have a structure you can stick yourself in, otherwise you’re all willy-nilly when it comes to grind time and that is no place for a writer or thinker or reader to be.

Seth Godin on being brave

“What we need to do is say, ‘What’s the smallest, tiniest thing that I can master and what’s the scariest thing I can do in front of the smallest number of people that can teach me how to dance with the fear?’

Once we get good at that, we just realize that it’s not fatal. And it’s not intellectually realize — we’ve lived something that wasn’t fatal. And that idea is what’s so key — because then you can do it a little bit more.”

Brain Pickings