A world of comparisons and trade-offs

Following up from last night, I want to hammer home an important point: We live in a world of limitations. That means that the comparative value of your time spent doing certain activities is more important than an absolute value. Practicing scales will improve your guitar technique, but will it improve your technique as much as spending the same amount of time practicing actual musical pieces? The idea that students should practice music rather than scales isn’t exactly anathema to the orthodox music education practitioner; the traditionalist would say, “Practice both!” We don’t have unlimited time on this earth to…

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Writing Groups

By “Writing Groups,” I mean a group of writers that read and give feedback to each others works. Are these sorts of groups useful? They can be, but compared to other things you could be doing, I think their utility is minimal or possibly a negative, depending on what sort of people are in the group. I’ll give an example to spring-board this discussion: Before I go further, this is a reminder that I never endorse piling on anyone I link in this blog. Heather wants to be a writer and improve her craft. I want anyone with that desire…

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The Diversity War never Ends

It doesn’t matter how much you shut out men. It doesn’t matter how concentrated alternative lifestyle adherents are in your industry. They will always call for more. You are in an eternal state of sin for the color of your skin. Take note of this. Not only are the goalposts shifting, there were never any goalposts to begin with; or rather, the goals are different than what they say they are and aren’t actually on the field. The point of pretending there are goalposts is to get you to play the game they want you to play. If your industry…

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5 Minute Abs

If you grew up watching 80s and 90s commercials, you undoubtedly have seen countless devices for getting abs for “only 5 minutes a day!” Rational, experienced people know this is bullshit. If you could get abs in only five minutes a day, we’d all have them, right? In truth, you can get abs for five minutes a day – five minutes planning your diet to lose the fat covering the ab muscles you already have. This is the perfect metaphor for anyone looking to accomplish something difficult. Everyone wants to sell you some special method for getting what you want…

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Jealousy among artists

At the age of 36 I’ve been involved for multiple years with several big artistic “scenes,” including authors of various genres, classical musicians (particularly guitarists), flamenco musicians, and peripherally visual arts scenes such as comic artists. In all of these, there is a character flaw that seems to occur at much higher levels than the background (and I have personal points of comparison – I’ve been lots of other things besides an artist). That flaw is jealousy. Artists are insanely jealous of one another. The worst is probably in the visual arts, but certain music scenes are simply intolerable once…

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7 Big Mistakes Made by New Authors

If you are new to the craft of writing (books specifically), avoid these common mistakes; if you are experienced, you probably made some of these, as I have. Focusing on ideas rather than execution. This is very common with fantasy writers, who like to spend time imagining an alternate world, complete with maps, magic systems, and economies. The problem is, none of those things are stories, they are background to stories. Likewise, political ideology is not a story, whatever success Ayn Rand has had. A great yarn is focused on the character drama and the action, and you should focus…

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Social time – Align Your Priorities for Creative Output, part 8

8. Social Time We are social beings. We live in groups. To that end, social time is important. Our social nature is also something that is exploited by social media to suck our time and attention away from other matters, and this is something you must be aware of. Depending on your stage of life and personal attitude, social time is something that can be either minimal or all-consuming. It’s also an area of life that few people are really honest about when it comes to acknowledging their preferences. Very few individuals are actually a lone wolf. Some people are…

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Maintenance – Align your priorities for creative output, part 9

7. Maintenance What I classify as “maintenance” are all the little obligations you have as part of living: cleaning the house, taking out the trash, fixing faucets, fixing cares, mowing the lawn, etc. I also include feeding yourself and performing basic hygiene. I think this is one area where there is an intense amount of focus for things like “life hacks” – little things that either save time or improve your effectiveness in this area of your life in the long run. I saw an add for a device called the “Y Toothbrush” that claimed it could clean your teeth…

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Hobbies and Leisure – Align Your Priorities for Creative Output, part 7

Continued from yesterday 5. Leisure and Hobbies I think for most people imagining themselves as productive machines, their idealized self isn’t actively engaging in lots of leisure. Again, though, self-knowledge is key. Some people spend far too much time on video games, but plenty of others work hard so they can enjoy an hour or two of gaming a day. Generally speaking, if I totally avoid leisure activities I suffer mentally and emotionally. I need a certain amount of downtime to flourish, and If I don’t get it I find it is very difficult for me to be happy creating.…

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Creativity and Purposeful Activities – Align Your Priorities for Creative Output, part 6

Previous post in the series. 4. Creativity and Purposeful Activities Here is where we get to producing art. A creative endeavor is something you do because you have a need to create something, to put something out into the world. Painting, music, writing, or even something like wine making, are realms of passion, not merely realms of economic activity. Creativity is always something more than a job. A purposeful activity is something different from that in its fundamental drive – things like charity or volunteer work, which are intended to make a difference in the lives of others but aren’t…

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