The Key to Productivity
Is there art without validation?
I’m trying to create validation-less art. And as I strip away what I expect the response to be, I find that I enjoy writing more.
This is something I wrote for me. I’m sharing it with you, my friend, because I thought you might find it useful.
Maybe writing to myself first and foremost, makes better reading for you. I’m going to continue experimenting with the section and section titles
Let me know what you think.
I hate doing things because I have to do them.
I will happily eat my vegetables. But once you tell me to do it? Forget about it.
I only choose to do the things I want to do. Life is too short to do things you don’t want to do.
The key to “productivity” is doing less of the things you have to do and doing more of the things you want to do.
If you have to do something, find ways to automate it (so you can do it in a short time without thinking) or find ways to make it something you want to do. It’s that simple.
BAM. I just solved productivity for you.
Don’t worry I can hear your follow-up questions. The questions are:
But how? What about exercise? What about eating healthy? Are you seriously trying to tell me that you want to do these things?
I remember hating the gym. Initially, I used lazy habits to make going to the gym a habit. It’s something I had to do, so I automated it.
Then one day, I was traveling and couldn't make it to the gym. And I really really missed it. I was craving it. Like an addiction.
The next day I went to the gym and I was grinning like a goddamn sociopath lifting weights.
I thought have I finally turned into a gym bro?
When I was a kid I didn’t want to be an adult. It seemed that everything that was “healthy” in an adult world pretty much sucked. Eat broccoli and pay my taxes? Uhh no, thank you.
But I was so wrong. The bad stuff is only superficially addicting.
Most “adults” do things that suck because they want to feel like they’re accomplishing something. They convince themselves that the healthy stuff is the stuff that sucks to do. But it simply isn’t true.
The good stuff? That's the real addicting magic. Now I feel unmoored if I don't write. In the quarantine, I stopped exercising for a month cause I couldn't go to the gym. I felt like a different person. It's only now (after restarting) that I've regained some sanity.
Vegetables that I hated as a kid I only hated because I hadn’t had them prepared in the way I liked. I’ve now had meals that made me rethink my whole vegetable philosophy.
In the quarantine, my brother could have lazed around with his eyes glued to the screen. Instead, he used his time to get obsessed with the guitar. He would show me how difficult it was and how calloused his fingers were every day.
He didn’t do it because it was “productive” or because he wanted to use the quarantine time in a meaningful way. Nah, that’s adult logic.
He did it because it was fun.
Once you learn to get addicted to challenges, the world becomes your goddamn oyster.
So the question isn’t how can I force myself to do the stuff I have to do. It’s this:
How can I get addicted to the actual good stuff?
Thoughts on Creativity
I came across this quote I found quite wonderful:
“I asked my friend the translator, What was the first known act of translation in the history of mankind?
His answer was: Probably something into or out of Egyptian. I thought about this for a while and ventured a certainty,
No, I said, it was when a mother heard her baby babble or cry, and had to decide in an instant what it meant.” - Mary Ruefle
I’ve been thinking about what it means to be an artist. After reading this quote, I know what it is.
An artist is someone who translates un-translatable things.
Creativity is a terrible curse. We, creatives, get these magical ideas in our heads. They’re pre-concept, pre-words, pre-images. They’re something beautiful and unique and pure.
Then it’s our job to convert it to art, prose, or poetry.
And we’re bound to fail. The withered translation on the page never resembles the magic we felt in our heads.
We are doomed to be failed alchemists.
The question is how do you keep going? How do you play a game that you’re bound to lose?
I put it best in an article I wrote called Why You Need to be More Disappointed with Life (yes I’m quoting myself, all your hate letters are welcome)
“I realized why a magician never reveals his secret. It’s because the trick part of a magic trick is trite. After a magician reveals his secret, a person will say, “yeah okay of course that’s super easy” or “I suspected that anyway”. It’s impossible to feel magic when you already know the trick, right? Because magic is magic when nobody believes it is possible.
Real magicians realize the trick itself isn’t important, it’s the process of finding the trick that is important. It’s the process of going from something mundane and miserable, something of this world, to something different. To something that is magic, that makes people wonder, something life affirming.
That kind of alchemy is hard. But, it makes me understand what I’m trying to achieve. Each disappointment in my past is a necessary evil. They are all experiments. They teach me how to get better at alchemy, how to calibrate my mind to turn the ordinary into magic.”
If you ever feel like creating is insanely hard, that’s okay. You’re right, it is.
You can never translate the untranslatable. But the goal isn’t a perfect translation. It’s becoming a better magician.
And I for one, can’t wait to see the magician you slowly become.
A Shot of Philosophy
Maybe everything that happens in our life is coincidence or chaos. The world may truly be hopeless and meaningless.
The jury’s out on that one. We can never know.
The irony is that whether we believe the world has meaning or it doesn’t; we turn out to be right.
History is a story we tell ourselves. It’s something we construct. Stories are useful because they give our life meaning. Even if stories aren’t true, they can be useful. The stories we tell ourselves become our history.
Why then do we tell ourselves such negative stories? We are so obsessed with the “truth.” We rail against anyone who doesn’t believe us. If anybody asks us to reframe how we’re looking at stuff, our brain automatically goes back to the defense: “My truth is the only truth.”
This isn’t right. Even though it feels like it is.
I created the following video a while back that explored this idea. It asks: what if we abandoned the truth altogether? What if we told all ourselves useful lies?
I’m not sure I agree with past me’s hypothesis. But I still find it interesting.
I think there is a lot of truth to the Vonnegut quote
“Live by the harmless untruths that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy.”
Who cares about the truth as long as the un-truths are making you brave and kind and healthy and happy?
Last, but definitely not least. If you have a funny or cool zoom background, please send me one.
I’m sick and tired of all my friends having cooler zoom backgrounds than me.
Hope all is well. I’ll talk to you next Sunday when I have at least a couple of cool zoom backgrounds under my belt.
Till next time my lazy,