Six Tips On Writing From John Steinbeck

Via Brain Picking. Sourced from The Fall 1975 Issue of The Paris Review.

  1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
  2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.
  3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.
  4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.
  5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.
  6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.

Great tips.

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This made my day, yesterday.

Missing Missy.

A Thousand No’s For Every Yes

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things. ~ Steve Jobs, WWDC 1997

Lessons Learned While Binging on House of Cards Season 2

Having a cold sucks. It starts with a sore throat. For me, that sore throat reared its ugly face during President’s Day Weekend. Maybe Valentine’s Day was a bit too indulgent this year. The sore throat inevitably led to muscle aches, a runny nose, headaches, and miserable congestion. Being out on sick leave for a week provided me with the perfect opportunity to binge watch House of Cards. Released, ironically, on Valentine’s Day. Nice work, Netflix. Forcing people to choose between their loved one or conniving Frank Underwood.

My existence, for the past week anyways, has been threefold:

  1. Sleep
  2. Watch House of Cards
  3. Take NyQuil

That was it. And so, as you can imagine, I’ve had some time to really digest Season 2 of House of Cards. What did I learn? A lot. Here are ten bullet points, in no particular order:

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Walking Away From 100,000

In November 2011, this website reached its peak with over 95,000 unique views. In fact, the exact number is 97,075. Just a tad under 100,000 views. Up to that point, I had been blogging about T-Shirts religiously. I’d blog about as many new tees as I cold keep up with. I did monthly lists that were designed to drive in traffic (one of these lists has nearly a million views). I’d do posts whenever there was a T-Shirt sale. I was earning good affiliate income, gaining ad revenue, and receiving tons of free tee swag. Getting 10 free T-Shirts in the mail a week was not an unusual thing for me. And then I stopped blogging.

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There is but one rule: Hunt or be hunted.

~ Francis Underwood

The French Know How To Vacation

The French know how to vacation the right way. While on our way to Château de Fontainebleau in France last summer, our driver, a frantic French man, pointed to the traffic on the nearby Highway. He emphasized how he was smart to avoid all the Parisians leaving for holiday. Holiday? He explained that, in France, people leave the city in either July or August for vacation. And they’re gone for the entire month. Yes, month.

As an American, this was a novel idea to me. I had never heard of such a thing and had a difficult time imagining what a month long vacation was like. Americans get a lousy two weeks off. Most people view those two weeks as something to brag about. In reality, those two weeks are rushed and hectic. Two weeks of rushed vacation time, trying to hit every landmark before the clock stops ticking. Two weeks of running away from the inevitable return to the mundane 9-to-5. American vacation is work outside of work. Two weeks is not enough.

The Parisian’s know how to vacation right. They take things slow. They slowly roll out of bed at 9am (maybe 10am, there’s no rush) and sip on a hot cup of café au lait. They enjoy a novel. They make love. But, more importantly, they relax. Relaxation during vacation is something that we can all learn how to do better. To do so, all we need to do is look at the experts in the field. The French.

In France, expect beaucoup de vacation.