Revel in the Process and you’re more likely to make it to the finishing line

Nothing is ever completely abandoned.

I become discouraged from projects without much discouragement. I make lofty long term goals and remind myself of them to stay motivated. But I still get so discouraged. I learned I’m going about it all wrong. These scientists concluded,

External rewards can backfire. Offer a child treats for making pretty drawings and whereas they used to scribble away for the sheer joy of it, now they’ll only put pen to paper for that candy you promised. The difference here is that Fishbach and Choi believe that our intrinsic motivation can be imperilled even without the offer of rewards from a third party. By focusing on the ultimate goals of an activity, we risk destroying our intrinsic motivation all by ourselves…

Visualize your goals to help get yourself started in the first place, but once you’re underway, try to let your long-term mission fade a little into the background. Revel in the process and you’re more likely to make it to the finishing line. (via 99%)

I always thought it’d be the other way around. I focus on having a book finished and published. I don’t even think about it selling well, just published. But my focus should be in the moment of the sentence, the paragraph, the chapter, the characters, etc.

But what happens when you get stuck, when it’s not any fun, when the present moment sucks and won’t make any progress?

One way to move toward creative thinking (heating the crystal) when your thinking has crystallized is to forget your problem and think about some other unrelated subject. Then conceptually blend the two dissimilar subjects to provoke different thinking patterns in your brain. These new patterns will make new connections which will give you different ways to focus your attention and different ways to interpret what you are focusing on. It is impossible to think of two or more dissimilar subjects, no matter how unrelated, without connections being formed.

Think for a moment about a pinecone. What relationship does a pinecone have with the processes of reading and writing? In France, in 1818, a 9-year-old boy accidentally blinded himself with a hole puncher while helping his father make horse harnesses. A few years later the boy was sitting in the yard thinking about his inability to read and write when a friend handed him a pinecone. He ran his fingers over the cone and noted the tiny differences between the scales. He conceptually blended the feel of different pinecone scales with reading and writing, and realized he could create an alphabet of raised dots on paper so the blind could feel and read what was written with it. In this way, Louis Braille opened up a whole new world for the blind. (via PT)

I did this very thing, started thinking about paintings on iPads and then my brain was making all kinds of connections and metaphors to the main subject on my mind.

What’s your intrinsic motivation?
What has you stuck?

Two redheads with long hair sat in the grass. They both wore green plaid dresses. One was a dude.

I live in downtown Portland with my wife.

I brought her a jacket while she ran an event booth outside. Two redheads with long hair sat in the grass. They both wore green plaid dresses. One was a dude. The dude in the green plaid dress also held up an umbrella to shade his pale skin from the sun. It was 7pm. His hair was a mullet.

Then a guy stepped out of his van blaring music. He started dancing to his music. The van was designed with aliens and ghoulish figures on all sides. The guy wore blue jeans, sandals, and a monkey mask. I thought maybe his wife or girlfriend was sitting in the passengers seat—she looked white faced and embarrassed—but it was just an Elvis mannequin. The sticker on the side window said: God knows this van is on the road.

Maybe I should have taken pictures—I should have taken pictures—but I don’t think the pictures could have fully explained what I’d witnessed.

Calvino said that the proper use of language enables us to approach things seen or unseen with discretion, attention, and caution, with respect for what things seen and unseen communicate without words.

I think the gingers communicated a lot and not just in their plaid skirts and hair-do’s. And the monkey dancer communicated a lot in his unencumbered dancing and artistic flare.

But even if I say the dancing monkey was Extremo the Clown and the redhead in a dress was just some university student named Larry but goes by Laura, there’s still more being said without words.

She fell in love with a Cuban General, had his baby, and then moved home to San Francisco because Cuba was no place to raise a child

I had a fascinating American Literature professor. Her favorite student was a psychology major and she allowed him to speak, but often cutoff anyone else who wanted to talk about meaningless things like symbols which don’t speak to anything at all in a story, so she said. (The image above is an example of a smug psychology student. Just judging everyone.)

She told us about how she fell in love with a Cuban General, having his baby, and then moving home because Cuba was no place to raise a child. She never did say Cuba. I guess it could have been Panama or something similar. But I met her son randomly at a friends house. I didn’t ask him about his biological father. He’d been discussing a trip he took with his adopted father, a doctor, where they volunteered at a clinic in Port au Prince.

But this fascinating professor talked longingly about teaching at a well respected university where she could have longstanding conversations about literature with her adept and well-attuned students. Instead of us–except for the psychology student–Portland students. She was Jewish, an atheist, and adopted two girls from China.

From her I learned about structures and tropes and that Gertrude Stein’s sentences are like branches upon branches.

Of my work she said, “I like your voice, but you need to say more.”

Which was nice because I want my writing voice to be liked and also because I have a little bit of pride for my holding back. And this might be a silly pride because I don’t often write beyond what I think needs to be said. Which isn’t much. I could stop here. I’m fighting myself not to stop here.

I’m an introvert. Whatever that means. But it doesn’t mean I don’t have things to say. It’s just that in order for me to form my thoughts I must write them out first. So writing is often more than just saying what I want to say, it’s also wading through my subconscious to figure out what I feel and believe. I am hidden from myself.

Again, I’m fighting. I feel like I’m through. I don’t have an opinion any more.

Last thought then: writing for me is hard because it often involves a super-concentrated form of thinking mixed with an unknown and hyperactive agent called feeling. I can write when I don’t feel, but it’s often dull and lifeless. But it’s close to impossible for me to write when I don’t concentrate.

So when I’m stuck, when I’m tired and I don’t want to think, I imagine my American Lit professor, turning away from the class and facing that smug psychology student and asking his opinion. And then I start writing. I start saying more. Because I hate smug psychology students who know so much about literature that they don’t major in it. And I also hate when professors condescend.

Another thought, now that I imagine myself in the class again: I wasn’t prepared for American Literature. I needed milk, but I was fed beef. I hadn’t prepared myself, that’s for sure, but I didn’t know how to prepare. I wonder if literature would thrive with more priming. I took every literature and writing class in high school. High-brow literature needs the equivalent of a gateway drug. Maybe that’s what they call Young Adult lit. Or maybe I’ve become smug.

Conversations With My Novel In The Middle Of The Night

Do you have conversations with your book? Jim Behrle does,

Over my bed, or the thing I call my bed which used to be a couch but is kinda now more of a cot, suddenly bathed in an unnatural moonlight, is a seven-foot book with arms and legs. It’s a hardcover with a shiny commercial trade book cover. The title is set in a silvery font that jags and blurs out a little, like frost. It reads: THE COLDEST NIGHT OF THE YEAR. This was the title of a play the Drama Guild of my high school wrote and performed about homeless people for a one-act play competition. We didn’t win, but I always liked that title. I always wanted to use it for a kind of hard-boiled thriller thing. So here it is, looking down at me in the middle of the night as I lie awake worrying about writing it. Except this book is bigger than me and has huge, unblinking “Simpsons”-character eyes. And a vague look of frustrated disgust across its mouth. It even has an arched eyebrow. It lifts a lit cigar to its teeth and squints.

—So how am I coming along?

It even speaks without scare quotes, like one of those soulless characters in a Cormac McCarthy novel. The kind that kill people with like a special silver spork they’ve had made out of the cavity fillings of all their victims.

I’ll never look at my black moleskine notebook the same. And I’ll never turn my back to it  either. Or look it straight in the eye. It’s always judging me.

What’s your book saying?

These are the Places Where I Write My Book (Video)

A writer’s brain is full of little gifts, like a piñata at a birthday party

A writer’s brain is full of little gifts, like a piñata at a birthday party. It’s also full of demons, like a piñata at a birthday party in a mental hospital. The truth is, it’s demons that keep a tortured writer’s spirit alive, not Tootsie Rolls. Sure they’ll give you a tiny burst of energy, but they won’t do squat for your writing. So treat your demons with the respect they deserve, and with enough prescriptions to keep you wearing pants.

From “The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Do” by Colin Nissan

Wiffle Ball The Show: Press Conference

Season 2 Episode 1 of Wiffle Ball The Show.

Hockey House Wiffle Ball League Part 6: Steroid Scandal

The Hockey House Wiffle Ball League stars talk about their steroid use.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Hockey House Wiffle Ball League Part 5: Who’s the Toughest Guy in the League

Part 5 of the Hockey House Wiffle Ball League. Team Faith plays a night game and tries to figure out who’s the toughest guy in the league.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Hockey House Wiffle Ball League Part 4

Another wiffle ball extravaganza. This week it’s an offensive barrage.

Vodpod videos no longer available.