15 Feb

Your Brain as a Group of Warring Tribes

Banner - rowersOnce upon a time in the dark ages of economic history, the human being was a rational agent.

We evaluated what we want, and found the cheapest way to get it. This, of course, had nothing to do with how humans act in reality. Instead, there came the much simplified theory of behavioral rewards.

It said that the brain creates neural pathways, using dopamine to reinforce or suppress them based on the rewards it’s received. This, too, proved wrong. Read More

08 Feb

How Math Destroys Your Progress

Banner - DiceThere is an element of chance in everything we do. Call it chance, fortune, Lady Luck. Call it whatever you want. But it means that if you did great today, you’re doing worse tomorrow. Here’s why.

Imagine that you have an amazing writing day. Let’s say that you managed to type in 4000 beautiful words in a single afternoon, producing four times as much as you normally do.  Everything is great. You’re totally on a roll. Read More

30 Nov

Going in the Wrong Direction

Banner - Computer Charts

I’m switching web hosts, and nothing is working.

The problem is that I’ve changed the domain registrar, the people who make sure this web site is in the global internet address book, together with my web host. Unfortunately, the address change hasn’t spread to the rest of the internet.

So whenever someone types wiltgren.com into the browser, they’re being directed to my old web host instead of my new web host.

It’s a very minor thing. Just a little switch of direction. And yet, it make everything I do flawed. Read More

26 Sep

Defining your Writing Career Through a Mission Statement

Defining your Writing Career Through a Mission Statement

Defining your Writing Career Through a Mission StatementI have a dream. I dream to be a professional writer. You know, a professional writer. Who’s, you know, professional and stuff.

Until very recently I had no idea what being a professional writer meant. I had a vague idea that I wanted to get paid for writing, and that I should be able to make a living from my writing and game design combined, so that, you know, I wouldn’t need to go to work anymore.

I bet that you’ve had that kind of dream: if only I’d strike it big/win the lottery/accidentally buy a Ferrari made out of solid gold I’d be able to retire, live my dreams and eat lunch in my pajamas[note]I no longer eat lunch in my pajamas. Not only do I need to set a good example for the kids, but I no longer find bread crumbs in bead to be sexy.[/note]. But it never happens does it?

That’s because this kind of dream relies on magic. If only I’d magically get X, then Y would be easy. But magic doesn’t exist in the real world[note]Because we’re all Muggles[/note]. That’s why you need a Mission Statement. Read More

04 Jul

Dealing with Lack of Motivation

Dealing with Lack of Motivation

Dealing with Lack of MotivationI’m losing my will to write. I’m losing my will to design. In fact, I’m losing my will.

And I should have seen it coming.

I’ve learned some things about myself, things that I can’t seem to change. First off, I’m a carrot type of guy. I work best when I’m motivated by positive feelings. Negative motivation, stress, and pushes don’t work for me. And I know that I’m not alone. Read More

16 May

Why Do you Do what you Do Do?

Why do you do what you do?

Why do you do what you do?Ours is not to reason why, Ours is but to do or die[note]Contrary to popular belief, this has nothing to do with the US Marines, Iwo Jima or the Battle of Ypres. The original quote, “Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die”, comes from the poem “Charge of the Light Brigade” by Tennyson, and translates to: “damn, what idiots”.[/note].

What a load of bullshit.

The ability to reason why is central to human experience. It is what drives us to purposeful action and what separates us from the animals – experiments have shown animals to be able to reason (horses, for example, can do arithmetic on the level of a 4-year-old), be optimistic or pessimistic (shown in both birds and mammals using colored coded learning/unlearning models), and learn to read and write (dolphins can learn a symbolic language and use it to communicate with humans, as do chimps). However, no experiment has managed to show that animals have the ability to self-analysis.

Humans do. And it’s one of the most powerful tools we have when it comes to productivity. Read More

15 Feb

Why Bad Music Makes Good Work

Why Bad Music makes for Good Work

Why Bad Music makes for Good WorkIf you’re not listening to bad music when you work then you’re likely not working as well as you can.

At this point you’re one of two types of people: the ones who already tried what I’m about to tell you, so you’re all “of course” about it[note]Yepp, research backs you, like this study of music induced productivity during repetitive work.[/note], or you don’t like it and you think I’ve lost my mind. You may be right, but not in the way you think.

Humans have an amazing ability to dive deep into activities, and when we do, we become amazingly productive. You think writing 15 novels in a year while holding down a full time job is impossible? How bout just sitting down and writing, no outline, no safety net, and still producing great fiction?

Yeah, a lot of that is practice, but a lot more is mindset. So how do you get into a productive mindset? Read More

11 Jan

A Simple Way to Become an Awesome Idea Genius

Idea Machine

Idea MachineThere was a time I had trouble coming up with ideas.

I’d dream ideas, and I could remember my dreams being filled with wonderful ideas, the feeling of brilliance that accompanied them, but the ideas themselves were as gone as yesterday’s dew.

I couldn’t come up with anything. My mind was blank, gray, and full of dust. It felt like I’d swallowed balls of rolled up spider webs.

I tried sleeping more, sleeping less, and keeping a pad of paper beside me while I slept, in case I’d wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea. Drinking more tea. Drinking less tea. Drinking coffee[note]Ugh, that’s one I’m not doing again. I’m a tea drinker, through and through.[/note]. I tried going to the gym (boring), going running (horribly boring) and going on a sugar binge (horrible, but not boring). I tried everything and my mind stayed as dead as a cheap, plastic skeleton.

Then I found the way. Read More