“The knowledge I have is not my own. I just know the way to the well.” –@KapilGuptaMD
All our stories and ideas are connected. Nothing is original.
There are different paths to the well. Some trails are well trodden and wide open, some are narrow, hidden and hardly used. The source of the knowledge is the same, we all just get there on a different track.
We end up saying the same thing in a different way.
A couple of people have asked me why I haven’t switched to Medium as a publishing platform. Medium is beautiful and elegant, and I value the highlight function. I also think that Ev Williams has zeroed in the problem with traditional media and how its livelihood is tethered to the advertising model, clickbait and page views. The popularity of a piece doesn’t correlate to the journalistic quality; hence something salacious generates more revenue than a well researched long-form article on Climate Change or political corruption. I think the Medium team has the brainpower and dry powder to make a dent and help solve the problem, but it’s hard to ask writers to go along for the ride when their livelihood or lifework depends on it.
Until the publishing revenue model is fixed, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn and Medium will continue to morph, experiment and adapt to survive. They’ll do what’s in the best interests of their shareholders, their advertisers and their employees.
I’ve been on WordPress for years and won’t be changing. My rational years ago and today are the same. Writers have to own their domain. It needs to be portable and backed up, and if the underlying platform changes then they can set up shop somewhere else.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl – This is a book you can read over an over again. It’s about how we cannot avoid suffering, but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and live a full life.
True Grit by Charles Portis. It’s an old-school Western story. Read the book and then watch the Coen Brother’s movie after reading the book.
The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. If you read Sci-Fi and enjoyed Dune, then you’ll enjoy this book. It’s the first Chinese Sci-fi book I’ve read and will definitely go back for more.
Illusions by Richard Bach. I recommend reading this book every year. It’ll offer up something new every time. Gets better as I get older.
FDR by Jean Edward Smith – This is a reminder that politics has always been a contact sport in the United States. It’ll give you hope in 2018. The past is prologue.
Season of the Witch by David Talbot – Give this book to anyone who complains that San Francisco has changed too much over the last decade. The book explains how the only constant in San Francisco is that it’s changing and that’s what makes it so great.
People say they want to change things, but what they mean is that they want things to change.
If you want to learn something new, then start.
Want to learn to surf? Drive to the beach, borrow a wetsuit and a surfboard, and get wet. On some days you’ll get out of the water, and your hands will be so cold that you won’t be able to unzip your suit or hold your keys. Everyone sitting on their boards just beyond the shore break did the same thing at some point. You won’t learn by watching Instagram videos of big wave surfing. The answer is in the water.
Want to learn to write? Start writing, publish something every day. Get used to feedback, good and bad. The stuff will only start to resonate when you turn up in your writing. People can spot authenticity a mile away, and they’ll connect with you through your book.
Don’t take the act of starting something for granted. Most people give up before they even begin. If you’ve started and come back the next day, then you are in the one percent already.
If you want to change something, then you’ve got to change yourself.
Have you found that you can hardly get through a long news article these days? Reading a multipage document or an op-ed probably means skimming through the highlights before you click on a link, switch tabs in the browser or context shifting to another app. Reading a legal document is even more challenging. We’ve started to browse and snack through information versus sitting with it and digesting the message. It’s like fast food vs. a home-cooked meal. The home cooked meal takes longer, is more work and washing up, but it’s better for you and you understand the ingredients. Fast food with a quick bite and probably followed by a sugar high.
Concentrating takes practice. It’s a muscle. Fight the urge to context shift. Notifications on your phone are probably the most significant culprits. How many times have you been deep into something and are yanked out of the flow by a text message or a phone call? Start using Airplane mode and the Do Not Disturb function on your phone.
The stronger the muscle tissue becomes, the longer you can concentrate. This means getting more out of activities you enjoy, but it also means you can spend more time on things that don’t interest you but are essential like a tedious legal contract, safety manuals, assembly instructions.
Creativity sometimes comes in bursts. If I hit a blocker, and there’s nothing – the key is not to get frustrated and contrive creativity. Don’t manufacture something that’s not ready to come out.
Changing my routine, shaking up rituals or meeting with friends is a great way to unblock the flow. When it finally comes, I make the time to capture the creative flow. It’s like building a dam for the melting snowpack. Don’t let the precious water go to waste.
Sometimes the best way to start writing the next chapter of a book is to sit down and write. That sounds obvious, but it’s scarier to do when nothing is waiting to pour out on the page. Sitting down, creating space and time is sometimes the only activation energy required to break through the writer’s block.
It’s the same with exercise or getting some long overdue work project completed. Upfront activation energy is sometimes all you need to break through. A run around the block turns into a couple of blocks. Composing a response to one email you’ve been ignoring frees up energy for other things that need your attention.