creativity · entertainment

Missed Fortune 🗻

What does it take to pull you into a new podcast? Or a book? Or really anything?

With so many great podcasts out there and already not enough time for them all, the bar can be pretty high for anything new. But the first few lines of the Missed Fortune podcast pulled me in right away.

Did you ever find yourself in one of those situations where if it goes well, there’s a huge reward? But if it goes bad, you look just unforgivably stupid? Like what were you possibly thinking?

I’m in a car with some guys I don’t know on the way to somewhere we’re not supposed to be. And this is one of those situations.

They go on to explain that this is the story of a real-life treasure hunt in the Rocky Mountains with the only clues being a short poem.

I’m already hooked. 😲 Well played, new podcast.

creativity

J.K. Rowling’s storyboard – writing as engineering

Below is a snapshot — literally — of one of J.K. Rowling’s storyboards.

Firs of all, it looks cool!

But more importantly, it illustrates an interesting point. No matter how natural and effortless a Harry Potter book is to read, clearly writing it is a pretty analytical process. Starting with a big vision, drilling down into the details, and finally “shipping” the end result seems similar to making software.

I’m organizing and planning my own book using software engineering tools and processes, all the way down to version control and text formatting. What can I say, as a software engineer, this is my comfort zone. Having a good process gives me the freedom and security to be creative, try ideas without risk, and literally commit when I’m done. 🤷🏻‍♂️

And like a great app, I hope the end result will impact you but appear effortless. Stay tuned to see how that goes. 🤓 #goals

Me · Practical

In case you notice a change in case

It struck me recently that I didn’t have a strategy for capitalizing my blog posts. So I’m making a change.

As the sole proprietor of this blog, I hereby decree that henceforth and regressively back to 1 June, year 2021, all blog posts shall follow the Sentence case standard.

Title Case was starting to bug me. It was overly formal and hard to read, as in Who Do You Want to Be On The Other Side Of This Crisis? And it was confusing. Which words do you capitalize, again? I took my best guess on 5 Things You Don’t Need to be Happy, Fulfilled, and Successful.

Plus Capital Case was constantly being dissed up by quotation-titles such as “The only real escape from hell is to conquer it.”

Capital Case also made it hard distinguish Proper Nouns from normal words, as in Favorite Austin Hotel Pools. Was that post about hotel pools in Austin? Or was it about pools at the Austin Hotel?

I’m pretty happy with this change, so much so that I am tempted to go back and fix all the old posts, such as “Favorite Austin Hotel Pools” to “Favorite Austin hotel pools”. But there are 742 of them, and sometimes it’s better to live with your imperfect past anyways.

With that, enjoy all the easier-to-read blog titles, future reader. I’m going to figure out punctuation for quotations next. 🤷🏻‍♂️

creativity · entertainment

Don’t Be Like Uncle Colm

Writing a full-length novel turns out to be hard. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Even if you know the story you want to tell, there are myriad challenges such as finding your voice, getting into the creative mood, and consistently finding the time to focus.

My latest challenge is pretty basic – figuring out what level of detail to use in the story. I want to make the story is engaging and specific, rather than just sweeping over things with the wave of a hand. 👋

But too much detail quickly turns into sounding like Uncle Colm from Derry Girls.

So if I ever find myself adding unnecessary detail and de-emphasizing the main story line, then I need to watch Uncle Colm as a little kick in the butt.

Or soon enough, people will be saying, “Alright, Colm, let’s pack it up. You’re tied to the radiator…” 🤦🏻‍♂️

Practical · You

Things and the 5 Second Rule

I recently came across this book on Audible called The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. I didn’t end up buying the book since I don’t want to send 7 hrs and 35 mins listening to a book about a 5-second strategy. The math just didn’t add up for me. 😆

But I saw there was a short TED talk on the 5 Second Rule plus an even shorter YouTube video on the topic.

The basic idea is that as you go through your day, you have things constantly popping into your head. These are fleeting things that you should do, would like to do, useful ideas, and so forth. Mel says you have 5 seconds to act on that idea or it’s gone, or at least you won’t do anything about it. And acting on those ideas is the difference between making the life you want and not. 🤯

I like that idea. But what can you actually do in 5 seconds? I mean, you’re probably driving or out for a jog or playing Wii. You can’t necessarily write down a note or call up your cousin right then and there and invite him to lunch. You can’t go adopt a dog in 5 seconds. And you sure as hell can’t write a book in 5 seconds.

Mel has other suggestions on how to handle this 5-second period, but I’ve been dumping things like this into the appropriately named Things app on my iPhone. It goes like this:

Hey Siri, using Things, remind me to invite my cousin to lunch

That’s it. Now it’s in your inbox. You can figure out the details later, but at least now you have a placeholder / reminder. My Things inbox has grown way too long to be useful in the past (way into the hundreds), but I eventually fought it down, gradually turning this list into projects or reference notes or calendar reminders. I’ve also turned more than 400 fleeting thoughts into a database of book ideas (thanks to Evernote).

The only way I keep my Things inbox under control is to clean out the inbox once a week on Sundays. Usually I have about 40 things for the week to act on, organize, file, or discard. It takes about an hour a week.

And by the way, both this very blog and this specific post came out of a 5-second thought. 🤓

Hey Siri, using Things, remind me to check out Mel Robbins and The 5 Second Rule

creativity · You

Shi**y First Drafts

In a creative writing class I’m taking, our teacher pointed us to this great piece called “Shitty First Drafts”. It basically says what we all know but tend to forget: nobody ever just sits down and writes a great story on the first try.

👉 Shitty First Drafts by Anne Lamott

This approach frees you up to have fun with it (another topic from the class).

The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later.

Anne Lamott from Bird by Bird

As a side note, this “shitty first draft” approach applies just as well to other creative endeavors such as making music or software. The key is to not actually ship the shitty first draft (although the occasional great album seems to be an exception to this rule).

Disclaimer: this blog consists entirely of shitty first drafts. 🤷🏻‍♂️