It’s been interesting to recognize certain themes and events in my life reflected in my reading. As mentioned in my final takeaway this week, stoicism and similar philosophies show up in unexpected places more often than I’d expect. I can’t say that’s a reflection of my reading choices, at least not intentionally.
Unlike “how to be a better writer” (marketer, entrepreneur, etc…) — those are quite intentional. The issue I have with those is that there are so many that either say nothing, or the same old platitudes. Since I seem to be currently enamored with a couple of writers on Medium, my challenge is to find equivalently worthy writers elsewhere. (Medium does make it easy to find this type of content, though.)
It’s also interesting to note how many current writers — myself probably included — are choosing topics that complement current events.
Have a good week,
“Life is an art, not a science.”
Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad – Auston Kleon – (ebook) – Honestly, I thought I’d read this already, but I found it on my “to be read” list over on Goodreads, and the title seems too appropriate for the times we’re living in. If you’re struggling to create — or perhaps just struggling — this one’s a great reminder that we’re all doing this day by day, making it up as we go along. “Yesterday’s over, tomorrow may never come, there’s just today and what you can do with it.”
“Anger makes us believe dumb things”
Mindf*ck Monday #65: Why Good Minds Believe Bad Ideas – Mark Manson – (blog/email) – This, more than anything recently, really drove home not only how what’s happening around us could be happening at all, but it really helps me understand why some people believe some really crazy, outlandish, wacky things. Look around you — you already know who I’m talking about in your own circle of acquaintances. I’ll bet they’re also, on average, the angrier of your cohorts. Anger is poison. Yes, I know it can motivate, but it’s toxic, easily manipulated, and honestly — you can find your motivation elsewhere. If you find yourself getting angry about just about anything, be aware that your rational mind might be on a “time out”.
Manson’s the author of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”. I think I’ve mentioned that I consider him one of the most insightful thinkers of our time. I strongly recommend his books and newsletter. There will be swearing.
“those of us who make things online are generally incentivized to seek attention above truth.”
Why It’s No Longer Ethical to Be “Just a Blogger” – Todd Brison – (Medium) – Last week, there was some takeaway that I wanted to hit people over the head with. This is another. More correctly, when you post online it’s your responsibility to do it ethically. What does that mean? “Do your research. Verify your facts. Credit your sources. Please do this. Please. Even if the attention never comes, it is far better to be credible in front of a small audience than to be negligent in front of millions.”
Brison talks about bloggers, but anyone who posts anything online needs to be held to a higher standard. And yes, that includes your social media posts, shares, retweets, and everything.
“What if shutting the hell up was a superpower?”
Not Every Situation Requires Your Awesome Commentary – Tim Denning – (Medium) – This hit home because as I sit here, I have a blog post rattling around in my head that needs to come out. The question is, does it need to be public?
How do you know whether something needs to be said, or needs to be said publicly? Denning talks about both sides of the coin: sometimes we should keep our thoughts to ourselves, and sometimes we’re the ones to make an important point that adds to the conversation. Social media has us erring on the side of over-sharing; that much is certain. He also talks about what we might do instead: amplify the voices of others. “Raising the voice of others is as important as having your voice heard.”
“Talking too much is your ego desperately wanting love.”
Quiet People Are Hidden Geniuses – Tim Denning – (Medium) – Yes, same author, same topic, but this hit one of my prior takeaways; “surprises while reading are literally note-worthy.” There are several surprises for you here. Another of my favorites: “Be the peaceful quietness you wish to see more of in the world.”
“Treat every paragraph as a single tweet: concise and relevant.”
The Best Thing I’ve Done for My Writing This Year – Jessie van Breugel – (Medium) – The premise here is simple: use Twitter not just as a model for writing, but as a testbed as well. Crafting something meaningful in 280 characters that stands alone is an art, as is crafting a series of them into a meaningful whole. Using artificial constraints is nothing really new, but explicitly using Twitter as a tool to improve your writing does feel a little like it comes out of left field.
“Suffering in and of itself is meaningless; we give our suffering meaning by the way in which we respond to it.”
Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl – (ebook) – It’s been many years since I first read Man’s Search for Meaning, and I’m glad I’m re-reading it. I’m a different person now.
What I find perhaps most interesting about the entire experience so far (not quite done, as I write this) is how closely aligned some of Frankl’s statements are with Stoic and Buddhist philosophies. These are schools of thought I gravitate towards, and for some reason, that makes the book resonate all that much more for me. Perhaps the clearest example might be the overarching theme that everything can be taken from us, but we still have control over our response. Indeed, our choice of response is the only thing truly and completely in our control at any time.
What I’m Reading
I finished Several Short Sentences on Writing this week. It hit my takeaway list a week or so ago, but honestly, if you’re a writer, it’s full of ’em. It’s an interesting style; one chapter, very aspirational, with many good nuggets. A few others that are worth mentioning:
You can’t prevent yourself from repeating a mistake you haven’t noticed.
Every sentence is optional until it proves otherwise.
It’s never hard to work when you’re interested in what you’re working on.
There’s no objective measure of “done.”
Anyway, I recommend this one and will add it to my “re-read periodically” pile.
I also finished: Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad, mentioned above. I’ll generally try to pull one takeaway when it comes to books, but this is another that has many. It’s also spurred a concept I want to capture here: my “infinite reading list”—more on that in the future.
Currently rereading Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, also mentioned above. It’s been years.