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

21 Dec

Harness the Spectacular Productivity of WIBBO(X)

Productive Writers - Kevin J Anderson quote

Productive Writers - Kevin J Anderson quoteI love WIBBOW. It’s an acronym coined, from what I’ve read, by writer Scott William Carter. WIBBOW = Would I Be Better Off Writing?

But that’s not what the title of this blog post says. That’s because it’s a wonderful question to ask in every area of your life. Would I be better off doing X? WIBBO(X).

And it all falls back to what your dreams are. Read More

07 Dec

Forget Willpower – it is Worse than Useless!

Self-Discipline - Roy Baumeister quote

Self-Discipline - Roy Baumeister quoteI tried to change my life for a long time. I figured that if I’d just want it enough, if I’d just tried enough, if I’d have enough will to change, I’d make it.

Nopes. Turns out the world doesn’t work like that.

Trying to change on willpower alone is like trying to lift a car with your bare hands. It might work if you’re Superman but for a regular Joe like me, well, let’s just say it didn’t work an leave out all the embarrassing details.

The reason it didn’t work is to be found in a now classic study by Roy F. Baumeister, published in 1998. Baumeister took a bunch of volunteers and put them, one by one, in a room with a bowl of freshly baked chocolate-chop cookies. Read More

27 Nov

The 3 Ways to be Truly Happy

Well-Being Martin Seligman quote

Well-Being Martin Seligman quoteI’m not an expert on happiness. If anything I’m an expert on being miserable. If I look back on my adult life, the amount of time I’ve spent miserable has been magnitudes greater than the amount of time I’ve spent happy.

And yet here I am, happy.

So I’ll give credit where credit’s due: Prof. Martin Seligman, the inventor of positive psychology, on whose ideas I’m shamelessly piggybacking. According to Seligman there are only three ways to become happy:

  1. Living the pleasant life.
  2. Living the good life.
  3. Living the meaningful life.

Here’s his short (23 minute) TED presentation on the subject (there’s quite a lot more to his research but this is a good starting point). Read More

13 Nov

5 Must-Haves of a Perfect Press Kit

Press Kit quote

Press Kit quoteSo this journalist mails you. She’s the vice-sub-deputy head of blogging at this paper out of Wichita and they’ve got this neighborhood news thing going and you’re going to be in an actual newspaper! Like, wow!

So you give all your best answers and you’re really clever and witty, if you can say so yourself. And then she asks you for an image.

“Sure,” you say, “sure. Let me just email you something, all right?”

And you scramble around and dig up a fresh photo from when you went bass fishing, and that’s all right because your project is all about bass, and you send it in and they crop it like crazy and you look like a slightly fuzzy psychopath.

Don’t worry. There are actually some simple guidelines to creating the perfect press kit. Here’s how. Read More

09 Nov

Danger: Are you Fungible?

You are unique - James Altucher quote

You are unique - James Altucher quoteFungible is a wonderful word. It means that something is able to be replaced by something else with no loss of function or value. A bag of flour is fungible. It is fundamentally the same in function and value as any other bag of flour. If you’ve got a bag of flour you can exchange it for another bag with an equal amount of the same type of flour and still be able to bake the same cake.

Wheat is fungible. Oil is fungible. Money is fungible.

Art should never ever, Ever, EVER be fungible. Read More

02 Nov

6 Ways to Recognize Your Fear

Courage and Fear quote - David Farland

Courage and Fear quote - David Farland I’ve started to realize when I’m afraid.

That’s a big step, really. It lets me deal with my creativity problems in a completely new light. See, there’s this moment when I’m thinking that I would like to sit down and write. And I feel this lethargy suffuse me, like I’m being slowly dipped in a pool of warm chocolate. It would be so much nicer to just read a bit. Check my email. And there’s this thingamajig I’ve been looking for all week.

But when I scratch below the surface I feel something else. I feel this suction in my gut, as if I’m about to crest the first ridge on a roller coaster. It’s faint, but it’s there and if I scratch at it I can pull it up for my conscious inspection. And I see fear. Read More

26 Oct

Are You in Danger of Comfort?

Comfort is the Enemy - Jeff Haden quote

Comfort is the Enemy - Jeff Haden quoteTell me, are you comfortable? Nice and cozy? Content with how life’s turning out?

Poor bastard.

Yeah, I do mean you. And me. Because a few years back that’s where I was. But let’s back up a bit, a very crucial bit:

What question didn’t I ask above?

There’s a key word missing from that first paragraph. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not a matter of direction but of intensity. Yeah, I hate cryptic hints too. Guessing games have never been my forte; so, have you figured it out yet?

I didn’t ask if you were happy. Read More