Things I’ve Learned This Year

Here are a random and incomplete collection of things I learned this year…

  • Having a regular weekly check-in with someone who challenges you and helps you think beyond your limits is vital to creativity.

  • I don’t listen to music nearly as much as I wish I did and am reminded of this fact whenever I look up from my keyboard after a long writing session to run off to an appointment and think to myself that I should have turned on some music before I started.

  • Writing a book can drive one between the polar extremes of self-loathing and grandiosity so violently that it really can send one prone to madness and depression to the edge of the abyss.

  • Why writers drink.

  • In the very short time I have done so, one can find frequent utility from a good knife if one carries it daily.

  • Forming a habit is really difficult and takes an nearly life or death desire to do so. The trick then may be to fool your brain into believing that your life actually does depend on that thing you want to do.

  • Doing the things you really want to do is easy. If something feels hard its because you don’t really want to do it.

  • When it comes to my online work, I want to own as much of every word and pixel as possible.

  • I want the same when it comes to my offline work too.

  • One can safely ignore most information and communication for a few days or a weekend with few ill affects. Especially if expectations are appropriately set and there is a system in place for folks to get in touch should a urgent need arise.

  • I could not recommend AwayFind enough.

  • For thinking and tasking, nothing beats good old pen and paper and I should stop flirting with anything else.

  • That a life well lived is a life well loved, and vice versa.

  • That, for me, solitude is essential to living and loving.

  • The only thing more valuable than telling the truth is having a truth to tell.

  • One can also safely ignore most news and information sources. 99.9% of it is information theater designed to titillate and distract one from digging deep into an issue through research, analysis, scrutiny, and bias. Such digging takes time and effort so choose those things you wish to know about carefully. Then, form an opinion based upon such research.

  • Don’t think you have the wit to debate any subject unless you have done the above.

  • That our fear of death is, in fact, a fear of missing out.

  • That when you have purpose, intentions and actions follow naturally. If intentions and actions are not flowing, examine your purpose.

  • My Pinboard public RSS feed could (and perhaps should) replace most of what I share other places.

  • I should make a point of writing one thing I learned down in my journal every day from this point forward to a) make learning a habit and b) make this list easier.

  • Life is a big place shared by many. Ignore most of it and concentrate on yours.

  • That the line between technology and magic is increasingly blurred for me.

  • That all things are impermanent and transitory.

  • That one should embrace the delete key, the trash can, and the word no.

  • Saying no is actually saying yes to other things.

  • That when you have said all you can about something, it is OK to be done. Shut up and walk away.

Transformation

Every well known artist I can think of has a singular transformative work. A turning point if you will. One that is clearly better than anything that came before it. Also, one that distinctly shapes everything that will follow. At times these works are a pinnacle of sorts. A point at which an artist has stretched themselves and given the full limit of ability. Therefore, everything else to follow is less great. Other times, such work is just the beginning. Where an artist has finally found a stride that sets them up for a long and successful run.

Sometimes these are obvious. For instance, a great indie band that has a hit single, gets signed to a major label, assigned some famous producers, and suddenly things are no longer the same. They are markedly different. Perhaps it is the production – less or more raw. Perhaps it is that the band, now flush with major label money, has fewer or more creative constraints. Perhaps it simply because now they can afford steak dinner over ramen.

And, of course, there are countless stories of film actors who spend the later half of their lives trying to regain the career making performance they once had. Or the visual artist who after years of struggle in their medium finds that one element that sets them apart.

Sometimes, the forces of change come from within. The author who decides to stretch himself and take on a subject much more different and requiring much more research than he previously has. Or, perhaps she has been featured on Oprah and now has experienced success so great she can’t possibly live up to it again.

In rarer cases, such transformative work causes the author, actor, or artist to go nowhere from there at all. JD Salinger and The Catcher in the Rye being the most obvious example that comes to mind. Following the success of this work he became a recluse, published infrequently, and what he did produce were clearly things he could have just as easily thrown away. Perhaps he knew the work had transformed him in such a way as to never want to produce such work again.

Of course, as this year draws to a close and I reflect upon it, thoughts of transformation are natural. Along with impermanence, I’m going to make transformation part of the scaffolding that supports the structure of my work in the year to come. These are two of the three chairs I plan to sit upon and dialog around in the coming year.

No Daddy

So, the Internet is shaking with the power of ten thousand wagging fingers over Go Daddy’s support of SOPA, the evil legislation that threatens everything we know and hold dear about the ‘verse. It is even so evil that it threatens the things we don’t care about too.

I have never used Ho Daddy (mis-type intended and a bit more honest judging from their commercials). They always came off as unsavory to my discerning tastes. There is an ocean of good hosting and domain registration out there that does not smell nearly as fishy.

As for me, I have been using Dreamhost for what seems like forever. Good hosting, great support, and they have a sense of humor. They are great for the .coms, .nets, and .orgs. Then there is IWantMyName for the fancy stuff. You know, the .me, .in, .wtf. They have a nice clean easy to use interface and can register just about anything that is registrable. I have also heard great things about Hover though I’ve not used them myself.

The point being, if you have a domain parked or hosted with So Daddy please know that they likely don’t care about the Internet you care about and therefore you should consider taking your Internet business elsewhere.

Update: Here is a step by step guide to do just that. Only 19 simple steps.

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