43 Folders

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Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

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”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

September, 2008

The Wire: Writing Into Your Arc


While this article about The Wire deliberately contains as few actual spoilers about the show as possible, it does contain numerous links to pages with information that will tell you critical spoiler information about the stories and fates of the show's characters. The article also contains language and links that are very much not safe for work. Please proceed with caution on all fronts.

In the time since I gallantly announced what makes a good blog, I’ve had time to think more about the qualities of work that endures.

Not thinking just of personal blogs here, or solely in terms of the ways that we can improve online publishing and social media —although clearly these are areas that could stand some improvement. I’m talking about the extent to which some of those qualities that I mentioned in that article relate to broader ideas around all creative work and the process behind how it gets made well and consistently by an auteur who’s only incidentally a merchant.

And it’s especially got me thinking about how any thing we choose to make today can contribute to, for lack of a better phrase, an arc.

So, naturally, I’ve been thinking a lot about The Wire.

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43 Folders: Time, Attention, and Creative Work

["what is this?"]

Here's something I wrote last week for this site's new "About" page:

43 Folders is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Call it a motto, or a charter, or -- if you have to -- a "mission statement." But, for both of us, it's a stake in the ground that keeps me focused on what I feel best suited to do for you with this site right now.

I want to help you identify and remove any obstacle that keeps you from making things that you love. And then I want to help you figure out how to make those things even better. That's pretty much it.

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Four Years

[“what is this?”]

Four years ago last Monday, I started 43 Folders with a TypePad account and no idea what I was doing.

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43f Program Note: The Week Our Gears Shift

Reserve Reading: kung fu grippe - "Better"

In light of some new directions I'm taking with my work, 43 Folders is changing focus and approach from being the "blog about productivity" that many readers may view it as today.

So, this week, I'll be presenting a few articles that touch on where I'm heading with this stuff, and why.

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Lawrence, the Shovelblog Pony

LINK: Lawrence, the Shovelblog Pony

Lawrence, the Shovelblog Pony

This is Merlin's drawing of Lawrence, the Shovelblog Pony. He's self-referential. Please consider promoting unnecessary viewing of Lawrence by alerting your favorite social bookmarking network as to how awesome he is.

Thank you. Now please consider closing your browser so you can go make something cool.

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6 Hot New Reasons to Turbocharge Your Day by Not Reading Shovelblogs!

"Shovelblog" is a term I coined for sites that try to generate lots of inbound traffic by posting a high-volume shitstorm of link lists.

"137 More Productive Ways to Open Firefox!" or "290 Gorgeous Steampunk Doorstop Cases!" or "5000 Slightly Different Ways to Move Your Bowels While Posting a List!" It's all the same pile of styrofoam peanuts shaped, into content-free posts with Digg-friendly headlines, and rocking a completely cynical approach to web publishing that requires little original work apart from finding an employable chimp who can hit "Post" 12 times each business day. And, oh, the link lists you'll see!

Lists of external links; lists of self-links; lists of links to other lists of links; lists of links to resources where you can learn how to start your own "pro blog" about slapping run-of-network ads around a list of links to a lists of links. Et cetera until the snake's tail is so far down its throat that

Well. Owing to the enormous popularity of shovelblogs as the medium for today's aspiring "pro blogger," I wanted to share a list of my own that you might find useful. Perhaps, even definitive.

IMPORTANT: Please do not bother to "Digg" this page; inbound links will simply rewrite to a drawing of a pony on a coffee filter -- which pony you are free to "Digg" all you like. Naturally. Consider it "viral."

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How to Use 43 Folders

A very simple guide to leaving here quickly so you can get back to making something awesome.

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Recap: 43 Folders' Corvette Summer

Welcome back, friend. Per what I wrote in your yearbook back in June, I hope you had a nice summer and stayed sweet and cool. You look great. Did you lose weight or something?

Somewhere along the way over the past few weeks, I seem to have got my game on again here at 43 Folders. I wrote a few items that I'm proud of and that lots of people seemed to enjoy. I'm once again posting about stuff that means a lot to me, and I'm feeling good about the site and where it (and I) will be heading over the next year. (More on that soon)

But, if you were tanning on Ibiza or building houses with Jimmy Carter and missed out on my wordy comeback season, here's a few articles I hope you will enjoy.

It's nice to have you back; I found the Vette, and I'm pumped for Fall.

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TOPICS: Recaps

"Right Now, What Are You Doing?"

Right Now: What Are You Doing?

Right Now: What Are You Doing? I've started to become a lot pickier about where my attention goes as I observe what it means to my work when it drifts. But, I still have a long way to go. Long way.

Like a lot of people I have a bad habit of CMD-Clicking tab sets in my browser, which then spawns a dozen or more new panes of potential distraction, pointless horseshit, and 10,000 excuses not to focus on what I really want to be making right now.

I whipped up this (rather plain and inefficiently coded) page this morning, and stuck it into every tab set that I tend to abuse: as the first tab I see.

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Posts, posts, posts.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

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