Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.
Merlin Mann | Dec 9 2008
danah boyd is finishing her dissertation, then going on vacation for a month. While, she's gone, she's not accepting email. At all. Got that?
No apology. No "vacation message" to pretend she'll read it later. And no implied promise that the stuff people send to her will magically be tended to by an invisble army of interns and elves. While she's away, every message she receives is simply discarded with a friendly response as to why. danah writes:
If you roll your eyes at such fancy, uppity, big-city behavior, consider the alternatives most of us suffer in order to pretend we're listening. Even when we know we're not.read more »
Merlin Mann | Dec 3 2008
In the wonderful Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott talks about the incredible, ripping pain she felt after having her tonsils removed. All she wanted to do was chug pain killers and let the stupid thing heal, but, Anne's doctor gave her some advice that she found as unbelievable as it was painful: he told her to chew some gum.
Turns out that, as with a lot of injuries, the entirely sensible impulse to protect and baby a wounded area was the opposite of what Anne actually needed in order to fix the problem. So, by enduring the excruciating pain of chewing gum for just a few minutes, the muscles in her throat suddenly unclenched, and Anne's pain went away forever.
The advice Anne wanted wasn't the advice she needed. And, like we all eventually learn, the best advice you'll get in life hurts like hell at the time. Because it has to.
And, maybe that's part of what what bugs me about all the "tips."read more »
Merlin Mann | Dec 1 2008
As I've started shooting photos more often, I've picked up on some interesting patterns: habits, if you like. And, as I struggle to absorb the insane physics of capturing light with some glass and a black box, I accept upfront that the improvements to my actual photos will be slow, incremental, and, largely undetectable to anybody but me -- a fact that's never more painfully clear than when I swoon over the work of the more talented friends who inspire me (Heather, Ryan and Chris each come to mind here).
But, being instantly great at this couldn't be further from the point. Although I started taking photos to become a better photographer, I keep taking them because I've learned to love the process. And, luckily, at least as far as I can tell, dedication to the process can't help but make you a better photographer -- or a better whatever, for that matter.read more »
Merlin Mann | Dec 1 2008
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life (Free 1st Chapter)
As long as I've outed myself as an obsessive fan of Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit, it seems sensible to point you to this free excerpt of the book, which includes the full text of the book's first chapter.
While it doesn't capture the clear-eyed usefulness of the book nearly as satisfyingly as each subsequent chapter does, it will give you a feel for why this book's different from your garden-variety aspirational artist porn -- this woman does not believe in "natural genius," and she damned well expects you to work your ass off, every day:read more »
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