Creative Work, Internet Famous, Merlin Mann, and Zen in Martial Arts

Only the good stuff - the best things I read last week:

  1. Your Guide to Surviving Self-Employed Software Development - Some great advice from Marc about being a freelance software developer. If you’ve ever thought about jumping ship and going freelance, you need to read this.

  2. The 10 Commandments of Clean Communication - A great article for anyone in a relationship who wants to have healthy communication. This is important stuff to learn in general; good communication opens doors. It’s a skill you need to develop.

  3. This is Phil Fish - “Using Phil Fish, the person responsible for critically acclaimed indie game Fez, this video by Ian Danskin explores what it means to be internet famous, something everyone who writes/creates/posts/tweets online has experienced to some extent.”

  4. Merlin Mann: Advanced Tricyling - I love everything Merlin does. If you aren’t listening to Back to Work and Roderick on the Line, you’re missing out. In this talk, he gets into how to know what you should be trying to get better at. Take an hour and watch it. Entertaining, insightful, wonderful. That’s Merlin in a nutshell.

  5. Podcasts are back — and making money - As someone who makes a living from editing podcasts, I can tell you that they are here to stay. The only problem is that there isn’t enough time to listen to all the amazing shows that people are putting out!

  6. Good Design Is About Process, Not Product - “I am continually inspired by a little book called Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams. Hyams was a journalist who developed a late-blooming passion for martial arts. His book has little to do with either Zen or the martial arts, except incidentally. The real joy of the book is the copious practical wisdom it has to offer.”

This section of that book hit me so hard:

One afternoon following a workout, Master Han invited me to have tea with him. After he had served the tea, he began, “You will never learn to do any endeavor properly unless you are willing to give yourself time. I think you are accustomed to having everything come easily to you, but this is not the way of life or of the martial arts.”

“I am patient,” I said.

“We are not talking now about patience,” he answered. “To be patient is to have the capacity of calm endurance. To give yourself time is to actively work toward a goal without setting a limit on how long you will work.”

He had touched the core of my problem. I had given myself a set amount of time to become reasonably proficient in his style, and I was frustrating myself because I didn’t seem to be achieving the goal quickly enough. When I eliminated the deadline from my mind it was like removing a weight from my body. Within a few months I was able to perform with the rest of the class.

Deadlines VS Unlimited Time

Deadlines are important. But sometimes, I feel the need to study things that don’t really have anything to do with my current career path:

  1. Web Development - At the time, in 2009, I wanted to be a professional drummer. I thought maybe I could learn how to make websites so I could earn money while touring.

  2. Audio Engineering & Production - In 2010, I started learning Logic Pro X and Ableton Live, because I wanted to work in a recording studio or produce electronic music. I had no idea that my combined audio and web design skills would eventually allow me to transition into being a podcast editor. I didn’t even know that was a job until a year into studying.

Sometimes, I just feel like I should be studying something even if I’m not sure how it will fit into my life in the future. Programming is that thing right now: I don’t know for sure that someday I’ll be a programmer, but I think it’s an invaluable skill to have, so I’m spending some of my free time absorbing as much as I can. I’m not giving myself a deadline for accomplishing anything, I’m just learning.