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Austin Kleon’s Curious Elder

Image nicked off Ali’s Website

I heard about Austin Kleon’s curious elder in Ali Abdaal’s podcast, Not Overthinking, the episode entitled Austin Kleon on Writing, Creativity and the Importance of Idleness.

It’s one of Ali’s deep dives, where he talks to creative people he admires in industry. Interestingly, Ali touches upon what these deep dives are in response to Austin’s talking about what he finds to be the best thing about doing what he does: getting to hang with like-minded people from all over the world! I can relate, as indeed I will later on in this post.

Austin Kleon is the author of Show Your Work!, Steal Like an Artist and Keep Going, three books that have become very popular with artists and creative people of all types. I’ve read Show Your Work!, and just bought the other two this morning. I can’t wait to get into them!

As I listened to the conversation, I sat with Roam open on my desktop and made notes. There were so many takeaways and a lot of the conversation snippets inspired thoughts in me, so I’m going to explore that a bit here. Some of the quotes won’t be word-for-word, as I was paraphrasing in my notes, but as jumping off points, they’ll do just fine.

The Curious Elder

This is such a good turn of phrase. That guy should be a writer! Oh, wait…

I’m only 37 but I’m basically an old dad in Internet years. I’m going to have to flip the switch and be like a curious elder now.

Austin kleon

So if he’s an old dad at 37, I guess I’m a granddad, right?

I’m definitely a curious elder too, but do I really have to take my cues on what’s culturally relevant from the young whippersnappers who are crushing it in the knowledge space right now?

Well, yes and no. A LOT of what they come up with is actually really helpful, or really entertaining, or really inspiring, and is sometimes all of those things at the same time.

You do you!

Gary vaynerchuck

GaryVee has the right of it. I can take inspiration from the creators whose content I enjoy and spin it into my own thing. Austin talks about this a lot in the conversation, and he should know as he literally wrote the book on it!

So I will be doing just that: taking inspiration and filtering it through my own points of view and experience and ‘doing me’.

I’m the lucky position at having failed at a lot of things and having learned what I DON’T want to do.

I also now have the time and the support of my family to explore new ideas without being encumbered by working a job that I hate. I feel at the peak of happiness in a lot of ways, and now is the time for me to start exploring and experimenting.

That’s the kind of thing I get from listening to such conversations as Ali and Austin’s.

What else came to mind?

Guitar People

And that is the best thing. I’m in touch with all these people that care about the same stuff that I do.

Austin Kleon

Back in 2005 I flew to Atlanta for my first Little Brother Jam. I got to meet a whole load of guitar nerds that I’d only ever spoken to online and had the time of my life. I went annually for the next few years, and also started attending a similar thing in the UK.

In 2018 I flew to Krakow in Poland to meet the DDaily crew, a bunch of creators who were publishing content on the Steem blockchain and are now active on the Hive platforms.

These events have been some of the most rewarding trips of my life and they have enriched my life in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. I guess that’s what Austin is talking about too.

Writing

In writing every day, you find out what you have to say. Writing is not just a way of communicating with the world, it’s a way of communicating with yourself. You are creating space in the day to connect with what’s here and what’s going on and figure out what you really think and feel.

Austin Kleon

This ties in nicely with a fantastic blog post I read by Scott Adams:

Writing is a skill that requires practice. So the first part of my system involves practicing on a regular basis. I didn’t know what I was practicing for, exactly, and that’s what makes it a system and not a goal. I was moving from a place with low odds (being an out-of-practice writer) to a place of good odds (a well-practiced writer with higher visibility).

Scott Adams

Together, these two quotes tell me what I need to do: I need to write. So that is what I’m doing!

Life-long Learner

Take the attitude that you’re a life-long learner.

Austin kleon

I’ve always had this attitude, sometimes to the detriment of producing anything. For example I have a course on the go right now and am about to start another one, both with my eye on becoming the person I want to be and finally get beyond my own limitations.

This is something I will be exploring more in my writing and video making.

Multipotentialite

I think of myself as a writer who does other things – eg. drawing. ‘Writer’ is my identity, but you can have something that’s the core and have other skills on top that make you stand out. There just weren’t that many writers who knew Internet stuff when I started. Blogs in 2005 were still kind of new. You needed some expertise to do it then. I would draw famous writers as they were doing their readings and then send them to them. How do I keep all the things in my life that I’m interested in and get them to talk to each other? What kind of life can come out of this?

Austin Kleon

This was like music to my ears. Of late I’ve been pondering why I never became a more prolific writer, a photographer, a musician, a video maker. I’ve been doing all of those things most of my adult life. I remember actually making the decision to quit taking photos because it was diluting the time I had for my music. Austin had this to say:

Steven Tomlinson told a story that’s in Steal Like an Artist – he went to his adviser and said ‘I love God; I love theatre and I also love business and being an entrepreneur. Which one should I choose?’ His adviser said ‘if you love all these things, your work is to figure out a way to keep all these things in your life. You might not have a career, but you’ll have a life.’ There will always be a phantom limb kind of feeling if you cut something out that you’re really into.

He was right – there was a phantom limb feeling when I wasn’t taking photos and I soon picked up the camera again. Now I understand that my job is to figure out how to keep the things I love and put them all together in some way and see what comes out. I mean it seems pretty obvious now, but now that I feel like I have the permission, it’ll help me a bit with the whole mindset thing.

Cyclical Seasons

This was another bit of the conversation I really enjoyed, the idea that work and creativity are cyclical, or ‘circular’ rather than ‘linear’.

When I’m thinking too linearly about life, eg. where will I be in five years, I like to read more eastern philosophy or Thoreau. I’ve almost abandoned linear thinking. I operate more on cycles. Stories are artificial to a certain extent. Cycles are not artificial. The earth goes around the sun, the moon goes around the earth. There are natural metaphors for our lives. The structures that our culture has given us – we need a reprieve from that. Is thinking about five years from now really the right thing? Do you see a timeline or do you see loops?

This was new to me and it makes sense. A lot of the online gurus I’m studying with now or have in the past get you to start out by imagining where you’ll be in x years’ time. Austin has got me questioning that approach now. I feel like, having reached the age of 49 and had a very varied life, I can see how making five year plans will never really work out. You could ask V.I. Lenin for his thoughts on that if he were here!

Austin goes deeper still on the concept of goals and questions the metaphors that we live our lives by. This is a fascinating topic and I hope he writes more on this. But if he doesn’t, maybe I will! Why the hell not – I have enough life experience to have shown me how living according to cultural metaphors has worked out for me and my family.

He gives some examples of authors that I can look at and talks about how women work with different metaphors than men. With men it’s all about competition and war and zero-sum games, whereas women don’t think so much in those terms.

Shall I Write?

Well, yes. Listening to conversations like this one really inspires me to believe that I can actually do this. This time it feels different, like I’ve given myself the permission to do this. I know I’ve been through cycles like this before and that they have petered out, but now I know that that’s okay.

I’m also learning about systems thinking with August Bradley and that will go a long way to helping me figure out what to do between the cycles, or how to link different parts of the cycle with something new – I’ve just learned that that is called emergence, and I’m really excited to see what emerges!


Resources Mentioned

Austin Kleon’s Books

Other Resources

Strong Women and Systems Thinking

I feel like writing, so that’s what I’m gonna do. I have no idea what will come out. Let’s just see, shall we?

Firstly, Rebecca Tracey of uncageyourbusiness.com sent a fantastic email newslettery thing called ‘Fuck that Guy’. I don’t know what it is, but I’m attracted to strong women how can speak their minds in that way. That was what attracted me to Amanda Bond and her course back when I was spending money on social media marketing courses like I had a never-ending supply.

I considered spending money on Rebecca Tracey’s course too. I was on holiday at the time and got a really nice glimpse into how to crush it in terms of marketing and reel in the little fishies on the hook. I got this close to it, with all those emotional butterflies and thoughts flying around my head saying: ‘This is IT! This is the ONE! Buy this course and everything will be GOLDEN!’ Rebecca even sent me a couple of personal voice memos with some feedback on my social media marketing business as it was then.

So. Close!

I talked it over with my ever-loving wife in the car on the way to Dudley Zoo, and kind of came to the conclusion that social media marketing isn’t really my thing, and that’s the reason it’s not working — not because I’ve not done enough learning, but because I don’t really want to do it. It took that experience to bring that out of me, that experience and a talk with my wife. I should do that more instead of being so insular with my thoughts. Note to self: your wife is your best friend and ally and supports you even when she disagrees.

That would’ve cost me $2k, money which, I hasten to add, my wife has earned, not I.

Okay, so it seems that my writing is about my attraction to strong women then. Ha!

So what exactly IS my plan then?

More courses, naturally.

Systems Thinking with August Bradley

I’m enjoying August Bradley’s Systems Thinking course right now. In fact after only two weeks I think I can say already that it’s one of the best courses I’ve done. I’m struggling to get my head round the Notion system that he’s teaching, but it’s not really about that so much as it is about learning how to think in terms of systems and really work out what I want to do and then how to do that. It was the first part that was missing, which is why I’ve been kind of wandering around aimlessly or aiming at the wrong things since I sold the post office a year ago.

As I watched the live call on Tuesday with about five layers on and my hood up (yes, the house is BALTIC!) I started making notes about my values and what August calls ‘value goals’. Without starting there, I’m kind of in the weeds. Things like:

  1. Be the best guitar player I can be
  2. Satisfaction in life
  3. Mind improvement
  4. To be loved
  5. To have a comfortable, warm, uncluttered house
  6. To live more minimally (minimalistically?)

They’re pretty nebulous and unmeasurable, right? That’s the idea though; to start with some top level life goals and then work back to come up with goal outcomes that will move me towards those value goals. Value goals have to come from the heart, and that’s the key. If I just put something like ‘be an awesome social media manager’, it’s not really a heart-felt thing that will drive me, you see?

But if I take the first one: Be the best guitar player I can be, I can come up with some goal outcomes for that:

  1. Complete Mike Dawes’ video course
  2. Finish Fred Noad Solo Guitar Playing Book
  3. Finish Mary Flowers’ blues DVD

Then I can use habits or projects to work towards those goals. The goal outcomes will be set to one or two quarters, then the projects or habits will break down into weeks and months, so let’s say:

  1. Finish half of the Solo Guitar Playing book by the end of November
    • Chapter 3 by end of next week
      • Two exercises today
      • Two exercises tomorrow
    • Chapter 4 by end of following week

That kind of thing.

So how does Notion help with this? To be honest I’m still kind of in the weeds with that. I’ve tried to implement this kind of thing but so far unsuccessfully.

I’m still very much at the learning stage as the course is still at the beginning more or less, and I should spend the time until the end of the year working on my value goals and learning how to use Notion and create my own personal operating system.

Ali Abdaal’s YouTube Academy

This is the second of two courses I’ve enrolled for. As I consider my value goals and figure out just what it is that I want to do, rather than what I think I should do, this seems like it.

I’ve been enjoying Ali’s content for a couple of months now and his candour in giving away his revenue numbers is one of the things that pushed me over the edge with my (wife’s) money in my hand.

I’ve been on YouTube since before the Google days and I feel like if I’d had a systems way of thinking back then, I’d be one of the YouTube celebs by now. I don’t say that flippantly, I actually believe that. And if I can carry that belief forward to today, well, why the hell not! I’ll learn how to make videos with an eye on systems, both my own and YouTube’s and find a way of making them work together to earn me enough to pay the bills. That’s my goal: pay the bills. I don’t need a Tesla but I do need a way of spending my time in exchange for money that I can use to pay the bills. Simple.

https://academy.aliabdaal.com/

Right, I really better get on with my day. This turned out to be way longer than I was expecting!

By the way, it seems like this would make two or maybe three actual blog posts with value for people if I were to work on the content a little. Could there be room for that over at camscampbell.com? I really do like writing …

Letter from Bruce Springsteen

Up early again. I woke up at 4 and got up to pee, then got back to sleep till 6, but that was it. So I’m up! First cup of coffee is finished and I have the urge to write out my thoughts, so that’s what I’m gonna do.

It strikes me that some of my previous morning pages entries have ended up more like blog posts that brain dumps, and that’s kinda not the point of morning pages as I understand them.

I watched Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You last night and it was fantastic. It helped me with a decision, which was whether to help a friend out or not. I decided that I would. Dónal asked if I would like to record with him for a support slot to go out on one of his friend’s music channels. He wants me to bring my video gear and record and edit the whole thing as well as play with him. It’s actually a LOT of work, and that’s why I balked at first. My thought processes went like this:

  1. Do I fuck want to play (my typical spectrumy response to pretty much any request for me to leave the house for anything at all).
  2. I kinda would like to play, but fuck me, that’s a lot of work for someone else’s channel.
  3. Actually, tearing down my gear out of my studio is far too tall an order.
  4. Is this a room for growth in any way? Is it a fixed mindset vs a growth mindset thing (based on this book that I’m reading just now).
  5. Is there any way I could do it without having to unplug my digital mixer?
  6. What’s in this for me?

So I walked the dogs and turned off the audiobook (Mindset) so I could think about it. By the time I got home, I was no closer to making a decision. It was dark and I was wet and cold. In fact, I was probably closer to saying no if I’m honest and I didn’t like how that made me feel.

I decided I would put on the new Springsteen studio concert movie Letter to You for some down time, wondering whether that would influence my decision. And d’you know what? It really did. And the decision I made was that yes, of course I would like to record.

It was partly thinking about the signal chain that tech that prevented my getting back to sleep at 6.

Systems Thinking Book

Am I continuing with the Systems Thinking book because of my all or nothing approach to life? Is the challenge I’m finding in understanding it a mindset thing? It’s very scientific and I’ve always said simply and emphatically that ‘my brain doesn’t do science’. That’s a fixed mindset right there. Languages? Yep. Music? Uh-huh. Science and maths? Nope.

If I look back on that, it’s almost certainly linked to my high school. Every single pupil in my O Grade chemistry class dropped it. We used to play cards. I got chucked of maths for bad behaviour and was permitted to take only arithmetic after that, which I failed.

Prestwick Academy was the worst.

And now I’m left with the fixed mindset that I don’t do science or maths. To be fair, I do find them difficult and I really have no desire to get better at them. But when I come upon a book like Thinking in Systems: A Primer and I know it’s a concept that I want to understand, I find my brain struggling to parse the diagrams and understand the jargon. I mean it’s fairly jargon free, but you can’t describe a thing without using the words that go with that thing really. As a linguist I can understand that.

So, do I continue? I’m half-way through and have understood some of it. That’s better than understanding none of it, right?

I write this knowing full well that I will continue because that’s my character. It’s almost like I want to be able to check the box and say that I’ve read it, even if it means skimming some of it and not really taking it in. Is there any point in doing that? That’s my question.

Playing Guitar

I played the Gretsch White Falcon a bit yesterday while watching the Springsteen movie. It was unplugged, so kind of silly, but it felt nice. I think that’s the first time I’ve picked up the guitar in over a week. I’ve been thinking about that as I read the Mindset book. It talks about how talent is overrated and that perseverance is a super power. If playing guitar REALLY is my passion, how come I’m not playing all the time? Yes, that old chestnut again. I got good because I played ALL THE TIME. What happened? I mean I’m not going out to work now and am home pretty much all the time, so how come I don’t play every day?

I don’t know.

I tell myself that the environment isn’t right. The house is so cluttered you wouldn’t believe it. I don’t have a comfortable place to read and the clutter really weighs me down. That’s why I love sitting out on the porch so much, but I won’t be doing that again until spring. And I like to have a relaxing space to play guitar and to read. But I do still read. I go and lie on my bed and try to block out the clutter and it kind of works. But I couldn’t really play guitar in the bedroom as there’s nowhere to sit. I tried using my daughter’s bedroom as she’s out at school on the mainland through the week, but her room is cluttered too and it’s not comfortable sitting on her bed.

I can’t really get rid of the clutter for reasons that I won’t go into here, so now I find myself wishing we had a bigger house, instead of being grateful for the fact that we have a house and that ain’t right.

Wait, that wasn’t really about playing guitar, was it? Hmmm.

Building a Personal Operating System

I’ve been enjoying reading over the past few weeks, both for pleasure and for education – not that education and pleasure are mutually exclusive of course!

Having started August Bradley’s course on building a personal operating system with Notion last week, I chose a book from his recommended reading list and started it yesterday. It’s called Thinking in Systems: A Primer, by Donella H. Meadows and it’s very good.

I’ve tried many different personal operating systems to help me achieve my goals, but have never really understood how to plan for the weak points. I tend to have an ‘all or nothing’ character, so I’m either merrily ticking off my habit tracker every day or not ticking it off at all on any day. I’ve tried bullet journalling, OmniFocus, GTD, Things, Streaks. They all have the same problem – me!

What I like about August’s course is that its fundamental focus is on systems with flexible software that you don’t have to try and shoehorn into your personality. He’s just put up his Notion template, which I haven’t duplicated to my own Notion account yet or even really looked at. I’m a little hesitant to do it because it will have that ‘shoehorn’ feeling, but I’m pretty certain that the course will teach me not only how his system works, but how to change it to fit my own goals and aspirations.

I’ll be diving into his videos over the weekend, while keeping my all-or-nothing character in check so that I don’t get grumpy when my daughter needs to use my studio to record her audition pieces. To that end, part of setting up my own personal operating system will have to include a way of adding flexibility and the expectation of distractions. It’s probably more of a Mindset issue, the idea that what I call distractions are actually distractions, or if they’re just life encroaching into my unrealistic expectations of myself. So not over planning will be important, and also being able to focus for fixed periods of time and plan for that by not picking up my phone when it buzzes and by actually communicating with my family in a nice way that I’m unavailable for this chunk of time.

I’m really looking forward to this!

Mindset

Oh, and speaking of Mindset, I’ve also started another of August’s recommended reading books, Mindset, by Carol Dweck.

So far it’s okay, but not really telling me anything that I didn’t already know. Still, I’d never really had it explained to me before by someone else so I think it will be helpful in the long run.

It talks about the growth mindset vs the fixed mindset and I think my characters has elements of both, but probably tending towards more growth than fixed. I’m sure I’ll be able to use what I learn from this book to tweak my personal operating system and make allowances for potential points of failure.

Or will it end up being Yet Another Course that I’ve spent money on and changes nothing? Again, I refer you to Mindset! I think I’ve got this!

Cornwall Trip

Cornwall Trip Thumbnail

Tired. I woke up at half 6. What’s that all about? I awoke from a dream about working at the post office. I suppose that’s a thing that’s going to happen now, just like my recurring dreams of being in Russia or Ukraine or Kazakhstan, the milestones of personal growth and challenge, you know? It was pretty awful though, dreaming about the post office. I was serving a ‘customer’ who wanted me to go through all the bullshit of opening a bank account for him, but have the transaction coded to his branch in Knaresborough. Fucking Knaresborough? I don’t think so. So I was back in that ‘rude skin’ I inhabited whilst working there. That’s the part that will haunt me I think, how that job turned me into someone I really didn’t like at all.

Holiday

I’m just back from a week’s holiday in Cornwall and it was amazing. There were many highlights, including walking on the beach at Harlyn Bay and taking some great photos of my daughter and her boyfriend. It got me thinking that shooting engagements and weddings would actually be something that I would enjoy and I wouldn’t be terrible at.

Harlyn Bay, Cornwall

Tintagel was fantastic – what a place. The cream tea at Merrymoor in Mawgan Porth was superb, and I’m so grateful that my wife moved us on from The Catch, a seafood joint that we’d managed to get a table at.

Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall

The views at Bedruthan Steps are spectacular. That was my number 1 spot to visit on my itinerary, because I have some really nice memories of visiting there with my wife before we were married on my first trip to Cornwall. We bought a painting of that location in Wadebridge and it hangs above my desk now.

The sunset at Daymer Bay while our kids hung out with some family friends kids, making an awesome sand fort – that was a moment.

Future

I was asked a few times – so, what are you doing with yourself these days? It’s got me thinking – why am I reading all these ‘improve your mind’ books, or business books? Why was I thinking about spending $2k on Uncage Your Business? I must admit I got pretty close to ‘converting’ on that one, mainly due to the great marketing job that Rachel and her team did, including TWO personal voice mails after having done a quick review of my ‘business’. I felt almost obliged after that.

But seriously, what AM I trying to do? The honest answer is that I don’t know. I’m soooo lucky that I’m in a position of not having to worry toooo much about it, what with my wife’s job and all, but I do need to start bringing some money in soon. Is my investing into CashFX and Finiko and MTI and Finalmente really going to be all I need to do? Well, if it all works out as I hope it will, then yes, why not? I have a website idea that might work well for me to attract others to come and join and find some freedom. In fact I had a good convo with a family friend while we were away and she seemed interested, so I could really do with having a site that I could point people to with simple explanations of what I’m doing and what they could do too.

That should be my focus this week then.

Social Media Management

What about social media management? I’m not sure. I do enjoy doing that, but I never really got off the ground, or at least never higher off the ground than the Toll Flats in Prestwick. I do still like the idea of doing it for guitar makers and players, but then why have I not edited and published all the videos I made at Ullapool in 2019? I don’t know. I enjoyed recording them a lot – it took real courage and stepping out of my comfort zone even to ask people to do that, so why would I not then edit and publish in a timely fashion?

I don’t know.

I watched a really good 10-minute video tour of Tom Sands’ workshop yesterday on IGTV and thought – ‘hmmmm, I’d love to have done that’. And I probably could have if I’d asked. But of course Tom’s seen how slow I am at getting the final product out there, as it took me over a year to publish the interview I recorded with him and Daisy.

Maybe I need an editor. That’s what the YouTubers are doing these days. I’m so fucking slow at it and I think that’s what’s at the root of my procrastination. But then I’m not earning anything on my videos, so how do I justify paying an editor?

Yes, that old chestnut. Would it not be better to put out consistent content that cost me money in the hope that it would start to draw in viewers through the algorithm’s rewarding my consistency?

Perhaps. Probably.

Or, I just do the work. I mean it’s not like I’m super busy with anything else, even though I always feel like I am.

So I’m kinda glad I didn’t sign up for Yet Another Course. I also didn’t sign up for the Systems Thinking course of August Bradley’s that I wrote about last week. It starts today and I still can’t help but feel that that course might just have been the one that showed me how to build a system that would get me round my procrastination foibles. Oh well, it’s too late now.

15 Years Sober – Recovery from Alcoholism

It’s a cold morning, and raining. I woke up after 8 again. That’s two mornings in a row. Nice.

I’ve got a lot to do today, so I should plan. My number 1 goal is to be nice to my wife, to be helpful and available all day and not get snippy. That means I’ll have to get my computer work done and then get off the computer and be available. My Aspergers makes it really challenging to stop what I’m doing to deal with interruptions. It’s really tricky. My son is even worse, although I would say that he’s further along the spectrum than I and actually has a diagnosis. I, on the other hand, got a free diagnosis from the pediatric consultant when our son was in for his. Not that I need it. I know.

I did get Malagueña done yesterday, and I’m sure that that is partly because I wrote my goals down in a public post. I’m quite surprised at that, although I suppose I shouldn’t be. It’s a really nice piece actually and I’m really starting to enjoy going through the Solo Guitar Playing book.

Double Anniversary

Today is an auspicious day on my calendar. Firstly, it’s 18 years since our wedding day. And secondly, it’s 15 years since my last drink. So yes, my wife put up with three years of being married to a practising alcoholic, and for the four years before that too. I don’t know that I would have stayed with me during those years.

A kitchen table with a dictionary and some notebooks and pens and a bottle of vodka`
I spent my Christmas eve feeling blue and doing Russian revision with vodka.

Normally I would attend an AA meeting to share my birthday share, but none of that is happening right now for obvious reasons.

Recovery from alcoholism is an ongoing thing and never really stops.

Yesterday’s Productivity

Instead of reading Carol Dweck’s Mindset book yesterday, I binged Utopia on Amazon Prime. I saw the original series back in 2013 and loved it, but never followed up with Season 2. I saw that Amazon had remade it so jumped into that. I’m not actually that into Americans’ copying other countries’ content in theory, but in practice, well, I like good shows! So The Office, Utopia, Les Revenants, Old Boy — those are just a few that spring to mind.

The new Utopia was good, but I immediately followed up by watching the original series again and it was very good. This time I jumped into the first episode of season 2 and boy oh boy, was it good! So I’ve got a few more of those to watch.

I don’t really subscribe to the idea that watching TV or movies is a bad idea, you know, the old GaryVee hustle porn shit that says you shouldn’t be wasting time binging TV shows. It’s not a waste of time unless I’m using it as a means of procrastination or hiding from the world, which is a thing that I do, but this wasn’t that. I’m not trying to justify my binging, I’m just saying that I had given myself permission to have a night off, and d’you know what? It was great!

I did read some 4-Day Work Week though. Well, I say ‘read’. I have the audiobook as well, so I fired that on while folding laundry and I’m really enjoying it. One quote really stood out:

I endure a lot through clever rationalisation for sure. I think that’s why my mum’s dying in 2016 was such a cleansing experience. It showed me that there are bigger things that matter and that I should make some changes in my life. I didn’t make any changes, but it was nice to feel that I could for awhile.

So, time to get on with my day. This keyboard though. It makes me want to continue writing because it’s just so darned nice to type on. D’you ever get that?

Rhymes with Peachy

Oh, I just remembered my dream! I was cycling through Ayr and it had been all changed. I was at the traffic lights at the bottom of the high street and they weren’t changing, so we got off our bikes and went into fort to graffiti the walls. In there I met a guy who was a YouTuber but I can’t remember what his name was. He had a new Mac Pro and was setting it up with an external drive and I told him that I had the LG 49 inch monitor. ‘The Sara Dietschy one?’ ‘Yes, that one’. And then Sara was in my dream and I asked her if I could get a tour of her studio.

And I’ve not even been watching any Sara Deitschy videos recently. Weird.

Do I Need 5k Followers?

Just saw this Tweet from Tiago Forte.

So what’s a Bear to do? Ideally build a list. Mmmm, okay. How does one do that? Should I shift this blog to Ghost? But I’m really enjoying WordPress right now! Build a list with my ActiveCampaign CRM? I could to that. Okay, let’s add a field below and then it really is time for me to get on with my day. If you want to help a Bear out, drop your deets in the box below and I’ll figure this thing out!

I Bought MarsEdit 4

Okay, I did the thing. RedSweater replied to my Tweet really quickly and I got the upgrade price of $24.95, so I’m in!

I’ve got my Applet ready in IFTTT but so far it has been failing. It triggers when a new post is made to the RSS feed that it’s monitoring so this is my testing that again, rather than a notable post. Although it might turn out that way. I don’t really know what I’m going to say yet!

Ah, yes, micro.blog. Have you heard of that? I got an email from Manton Reece—remember him, the buy behind App.net?—with some info about micro.blog. It sounded neat, so I checked it out and went to sign up, only to find that I had already signed up. Presumably that’s how I was on his email list. D’oh!

I put my $5 down and installed the iOS app yesterday and have been quite enjoying it. I wondered whether it would give me a place with a similar vibe to what Vox.com used to be back in my early blogging days. I’ve heard comments that it feels like the early days of Twitter, which is exactly how App.net felt too. So it might have some legs and become a thing that I do, along with this blog here. It’s currently at camscampbell.micro.bog, but if it sticks I’ll get a domain for it.

Should I try MarsEdit again?

Back in the day I used RedSweater’s MarsEdit to post to this blog so that I could write in Markdown. Ironically I’m looking at it again now, but to go the other way.

Eh?

Well, I like writing in the native WordPress posting window. It’s got so much better over the last year with the Gutenberg blocks and all that, but I can’t get posts OUT of WordPress to sit nicely in my DayOne journal, so I was wondering if I could use MarEdit as a way of converting WordPress code into Markdown, maybe with BBEdit or Atom? But so far I haven’t been able to figure it out.

Brett Terpstra’s Slogger used to be good for getting blog posts in DayOne, but I got way into the weeds with Slogger too many times. I’m not a developer and spent way too much time typing sudo this and sudo that and eventually I gave up and started using IFTTT.

So, I’m now wondering if there is a way of using IFTTT to get my blog posts published into DayOne with RSS? Hmmm. I’m going to give that a try.

Still, MarsEdit is kinda cool for browsing through and editing blog posts once they’ve been published, editing tags and all that sort of stuff. I didn’t install it through the App Store though, so I can’t get an upgrade price. V3 doesn’t install from the downloads on Redsweater’s site.

IFTTT

Oh no, IFTTT has gone subscription only. Aaargh. Ah, but I can do it with the Standard account if it’s an applet that someone else has created and put in the Explore section. Thank you, Funky Penguin, whoever you are!

Right, I’m going to test it with this post, but the real gravy will be if it works properly with posts entered directly in the WordPress CMS.

Except I’m NOT going to test it with this post from MarsEdit, because I don’t have a licence. I’ll have to copy and paste this into the CMS. Wish me luck!

Writing is a Skill that Requires Practice.

Slept until 08:46. Result! Still feeling tired though. I made Illy coffee again because Len was still sleeping. She got up just as the last drips dropped into the mug. Ugh.

I read a nice quote from Scott Adams’ blog yesterday that kind of sums up what I’m trying to do here:

Writing is a skill that requires practice. So the first part of my system involves practicing on a regular basis. I didn’t know what I was practicing for, exactly, and that’s what makes it a system and not a goal. I was moving from a place with low odds (being an out-of-practice writer) to a place of good odds (a well-practiced writer with higher visibility).

Scott Adams

It was that that inspired me to make this a thing that I do and not just a thing that I think about. And besides, I LOVE this Ducky One 2 keyboard with cherry red switches!

Yesterday’s Goals

What were yesterday’s goals? Let me check…

  1. I didn’t decide on the Notion course yet. I’m letting it percolate. I did reread August Bradley’s sales page and it *almost* converted and still very well might.
  2. Profits reinvested into Finiko and Finalmente as well. I had four plans cash out in Finalmente yesterday!
  3. Adding more Last.fm posts seems like a thing to do maybe one at a time as it’s not moving the needle on anything.
  4. I did get all the guitar exercises done, and done well too, including recording one and playing the teacher part to the recording AND tabbing one out in Guitar Pro.

Small Wins

Installing Guitar Pro and tabbing out a tune. That was a bit of a hurdle that I’d been putting off for a long time. There’s a real learning curve to that software, but I managed to figure out enough to notate a whole exercise!

Content Consumed

I did the dog walk loop in the middle of the day and listened to an enjoyable episode of Roderick on the Line. John Roderick talked at length about a relationship and went into the emotion behind it. It really get a lot from John’s candour, but this one in particular was quite moving and inspirational.

I started reading Mindset, by Carol Dweck. This came up on Jim Kwik’s talk for Teachable’s Share What You Know Summit, but the reviews put me off buying it at that time. It came up again on August Bradley’s course page as a prerequisite for the course, so I thought I’d give it a go. So far I haven’t learned anything from it that I didn’t already know. One reviewer suggested not bothering with it but reading Scott Adams’ book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life, instead. That seems more in my wheelhouse.

Can I do the thing that Ali Abdaal recommended in a YouTube video and stop reading a book? Can I really do that?

But wait, let me give Carol Dweck’s book a proper chance. I’ll read more today.

Today’s Goals

  1. Post the Blue Compass mic clamp back for a refund
  2. Post a book away from someone who asked for it on Bookmooch
  3. Learn Malagueña from the Solo Guitar Playing book.
  4. Read Carol Dweck’s book.
  5. Walk the dogs around the circuit.
  6. Write to Teachable with my questions. They didn’t respond to my Tweets.

Doesn’t sound like a really full day, does it? I could do more guitar but I want to NOT over extend with my goals and end up not fulfilling them. And I can spend as much time as is left reading and making notes.

Thoughts like Flies – Systems Thinking

Morning Pages - Thoughts Like Flies

Tired. It’s 07:46 and I’ve been awake for an hour. This happened yesterday, except that I woke up at 05:45 and did manage to get back to sleep. This morning though? Nope. As soon as I awake, the thoughts that are buzzing round my head like flies see that sliver of consciousness and pounce.

Let me just say that Illy coffee though? Yuck. When I wake up early, I use my tin of Illy instead of grinding beans because the family is still asleep, so it’s really an emergency supply. It reminds me of my Luxembourg days, when Maria Cristina and Leo would argue out over Illy vs Lavazza like it was the Mac vs PC wars all over again. It’s a happy memory though. I loved working with them.

Once you start getting freshly roasted beans though, the prepackaged preground stuff becomes emergency only. Even Costa is nicer than that!

August Bradley’s New Course

So, what’s on my mind? It’s actually August Bradley’s new course. You’ll remember yesterday that I talked about Nat Eliason and Roam Research? You obviously do, oh avid reader of mine.

Well, I asked on Twitter if there was a similar Notion course, and I got a helpful reply pointing me to August Bradley’s Notion Playlist on his YouTube channel.

I watched the first few videos and honestly felt like what I was watching was potentially life-changing. And this wasn’t marketing copy, although obviously this is part of August’s master plan of giving away incredibly valuable content as a way of marketing for his paid course—I get that now and can also learn from how he did that.

August talked at length about systems before he even opened up Notion to show us his workflow. And that is where I’m failing. I’ve tried various different tactics over the last year and longer to come up with habits and productivity and none of them have worked. I understand that there is more of a psychological reason here that should be explored, but I feel like August’s holistic approach will help me to understand where my points of failure are and plan for that in my system. In fact it’s not just a feeling—he actually said as much in his early Notion videos.

Sounds like I’m talking myself into buying, doesn’t it?

I scrolled through his page to get to the price, expecting it to be $1197 at least, and yes, it will be that ($1250 actually), but today it’s mine for the low low price of $750!

Sorry, I didn’t mean to be facetious there; I’m sure that it’s actually really good value at that price point, but the fact is that I’m earning fuck all right now and have been earning that much since lockdown started, more or less. Affordability is the kicker.

But if I don’t solve this systems problem that I have, I’ll never make a successful living as a content creator, because I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and that is not working.

Gratitude

I should keep a gratitude list though, right? Of course I should.

  1. Lying in bed this morning before getting up. Instead of feeling frustrated at not being able to get back to sleep, I chose to be mindful of the feeling of warmth as I listened to the wind outside and felt a really nice peaceful feeling of having everything that I need.
  2. I felt gratitude that my wife was lying beside me, not only because she’s amazing in so many ways, but because she was actually in bed. She’s dealing with incredible workloads right now and doesn’t always make it to bed.
  3. A sense of achievement at having started this writing project on this website and at having tidied up some old posts, particularly my book reviews—adding Amazon affiliate links to the beginning of the posts—and my weekly Last.fm chart posts.
  4. Not having to get up to run the post office. That’s something I should be mindful of every day. That was a period of my life that I suppose I had to go through, but fuck me was it brutal! The leg injury period was easier. Twelve years I did that.

What did I Read Yesterday

  1. I finished The Elves of Cintra, by Terry Brooks.
  2. Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets, by Svetlana Alexievich. It’s really good.
  3. Four exercises from Solo Guitar Playing, by Frederick Noad, the book I’m planning to launch a course on.

Disclaimer: Some links are Amazon affiliate links.

Today’s Goals

  1. Decide on the Notion course purchase and own the decision.
  2. Buy the next Finiko product with profits earned over the last two weeks.
  3. Decide whether to add more Last.fm posts from my Hive blog.
  4. Complete Lesson 8 of Solo Guitar Playing by the end of the week, so six exercises and three compositions. Let’s make today’s goal the six exercises. Anything else is a bonus.