43 Folders

Back to Work

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

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

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


43 Folders - Interview with "Linchpin" author, Seth Godin

43 Folders - Interview with "Linchpin" author, Seth Godin (audio mp3, free on iTunes)

I talk with Seth Godin, whose new book, Linchpin (Kindle, Hardcover, Worldcat, ISBN), comes out today. Topics include, "The Lizard Brain," Bob Dylan, protecting the well, and beating back the fear and resistance that drive mediocrity.

read more »

NaNoWriMo: A Pep Talk and a Warning

I honor any project to write something — especially to write a long piece of fiction. It's something I've always wanted to do but, like most people, I have always been too scared to attempt it.

So, kudos.

But, here's the thing: it's hard to start writing, and it's almost as hard to keep writing. Believe me, I know. And, there will be times every day when you get discouraged or you want to throw in the towel because you feel lost or depressed or useless or just plain tired. Empty. That's the word. Empty.

All I want to say is, keep at it. You can do this.

read more »

Makebelieve Help, Old Butchers, and Figuring Out Who You Are (For Now)

Here's a video I made about a video I made. Consequently, it's also about writing a book, fake self-help, the long road to developing expertise, and the ups and downs of repeatedly asking the world to tell you who you are.

The video is long. As usual. This is how it works.

read more »

Fake Rocks, Salami Commanders, and Just Enough to Start

MaxFunCon: Merlin Mann on Doing Creative Work (via TSoYA)

Here’s the audio from a short talk I presented a few weeks ago at Jesse Thorn’s awesome1 MaxFunCon in Lake Arrowhead, CA. The talk is subtitled, “With All Due Respect to the Seduction Community2, and it contains my typically NSFW use of, well, words, I guess.

It’s about how to get started—just started—with any project that really matters to you.

read more »

Michael Bierut's Notebooks

Design Observer: 26 Years, 85 Notebooks

Why a notebook link from the guy who’s supposedly over notebook pr0n? Easy. This is all about how Michael Bierut has used his 85 notebooks over the past 26 years.

read more »

Video: Merlin's Talk, "Toward Patterns for Creativity"

Merlin Mann - "Toward Patterns for Creativity" - Macworld PULSE

Here's a video of my presentation, "Toward Patterns for Creativity," from earlier this month at Macworld, here in SF.

read more »

Twyla’s Box: It’s Where Everything Goes

Self-Reliant Film » Blog Archive » Twyla Tharp: Getting Things Done (with Boxes)

This post by Paul Harrill is a great take on what I've been saucily referring to as, "Twyla's Box." (Yes, again with the Twyla Tharp book.)

I'm sharing it here, because in addition to delivering a thought-provoking slap at the self-abuse of productivity pr0n ("Certainly if you find yourself reading productivity book after productivity book you’re missing the point" [ouch]), it includes a canny synthesis of the overlap between (the best, non-fiddly parts of) GTD and those patterns that seem to help folks like Twyla Tharp to keep making for decades. Nice work, Paul. Loved this (and sorry for arriving so late to the party; I am now subscribed).

So, first a quote from Paul's post, followed by (forgive me) a long-ass re-quoting of Tharp's chapter, "Start with a Box", which I've lovingly copied straight from Paul's swell post. Paul said:

read more »

The Problem with “Feeling Creative”

If your mall's bookstores look anything like mine (and it's probably safe to assume that they do), you'll find numerous sections devoted to helping writers, painters, musicians, and other aspiring artists to become successful in one way or another. There are books chock full of tips on finding an agent, on painting like the masters, and on composing and selling a hit song.

There are also dozens of books on "creativity" itself. Guides that are meant to help you access and unlock the artist within and to see the world in more creative ways. How to "be" creative, how to generate ideas, and how to learn to think "laterally."

Some of these books are just terrific, many are atrocious, and, at least in my anecdotal experience, only a handful challenge their readers with a fundamentally unmarketable premise:

Creative work only seems like a magic trick to people who don't understand that it's ultimately still work.

read more »

Eric Idle, on John Cleese's Writing Process

Eric Idle, on John Cleese’s Approach to Writing

John Cleese sweated every word — to the point of exhausting collaborators like Eric Idle.

In other places, I’ve heard Cleese himself talk about his work ethic within the Pythons, mentioning how Graham Chapman might slip out early to start drinking, while Cleese would stick around and revise a sketch for another half-hour or longer. Over time, he felt the extra effort was what made the difference in the enduring appeal of his material.

read more »

Ze Frank: Executing and Theoretical Perfection

the show with zefrank (2007-11-06 / “washington, ideas, brain crack”)

Ze Frank, on executing ideas even, or especially, when you can’t do them perfectly. (PNSFW)

[video via Waxy Links]

As some pals and I have been banging around ideas for new projects, I’ve been thinking a lot about Ze Frank, and realizing what a talented and brave fellow he is.

read more »



An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


Subscribe with Google Reader

Subscribe on Netvibes

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe on Pageflakes

Add RSS feed

The Podcast Feed


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. »

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »