Pages aren’t precious

Sometimes you need to find momentum in the act of writing before you can find your story.

Pages you throw out don’t count as wasted effort if they helped you find the good stuff.

Overcoming The Funk

The funk creeps in disguised as a search for something better.

Procrastinating by reading up on a better way to organize and prioritize, or scrolling for one more interesting bite of content — Flipping back the pages on an overstuffed menu, thinking you missed what you actually want to order.

The funk waves a pennant in the stands, pretending to be a supporter shouting “You can do better!” It wears your team colors, but placed bets against your victory.

The funk wins not by convincing you to stop doing anything, but by making you believe there is a right thing to do. It gets you asking the wrong questions.

I find the way to get the upper hand is when I can ask “What can I do?” instead of “What should I do?”

Momentum is the funk’s natural enemy, not perfection or strategy.

The order of my to-do list doesn’t matter if I’m not checking anything off.

I need to remind myself: Prioritize when there’s energy and clarity. Otherwise, don’t be ashamed of reaching for low-hanging fruit.

My future self will appreciate not having to pick up the slack.

As we get older, we can replace curiosity with anticipation.

I was thinking about this while watching Button play with a cup in the tub.

It has holes in the bottom like a colander. Every time he filled the cup and lifted it, first he was curious, then delighted, as the water sprinkled out.

He wasn’t sure what would happen each time. He needed to test and observe.

Knowledge vs. Judgement

For some things, like how fire is hot and can burn us, it’s good that we don’t need to re-learn them. We have a locked in sense of cause-and-effect.

With some things, we infer too much. We treat a part as representative of the whole, or one instance of something as a confirmation that this is the way things always go.

I think about the times I’ve skimmed a news article because everything after the headline seemed like a foregone conclusion. Or how many times I’ve had a conversation where everyone nods their heads about how they’re so certain, and so defeated, about what’s going to happen next when discussing a contentious current event.

There’s a fatigue to feeling like you always know what’s going to happen (or not happen) next. That life is infinitely predictable — cynically clinging to the belief that everything follows the same, disappointing script. That no one and nothing is truly capable of change or surprising action.

Turning off knee jerk reactions isn’t about letting everything slide

If a problem can be solved, there is no use worrying about it. If it can’t be solved, worrying will do no good.

The Dalai Lama

After deliberation, you might still come away angry or disappointed, but if you come away with a more positive perspective on a person or an idea after some time to process, that’s a good thing.

If you find that your gut reaction checks out, and your negative impressions were confirmed, you can feel secure in your judgement.

If you’re not in a life-or-death, fight-or-flight moment, what do you gain by being angry as fast as possible?

Attention? Likes and subscribes?

All fiat currency prone to hyperinflation.

Being slower to anger makes space to find better outlets for a response; to take action instead of only reacting.

Reacting amplifies the moment. It clings to the pain.

Considered action has the chance to move past the pain.

The power of “What if…”

Cynical certainty isn’t confidence, but defense.

It prevents vulnerability, takes away opportunities for curiosity or learning, and leaves the hard work to other people. It lets you run along with blinders on, blundering toward a non-existent finish line powered by fury.

Something I’m trying is sticking “What if” at the beginning of these negative, judgmental thoughts when they crop up.

Instead of treating them like a mental certainty, they’re a question. A hypothesis to be tested. One option with at least one other alternative (and maybe many others).

It doesn’t always ward off the judgmental impulses, but at least I know I’m trying.

Judging Yourself vs. Judging Your Work

This flow chart shows up in Adam Grant’s Think Again:

Any writer having trouble with this difference should print it out and stick it up where they work.

Recognizing your work isn’t as good as you’d like it to be is a necessary step toward recognizing what needs to be fixed.

And this is a concise way to remember why your attitude matters.

It’s kind of a retcon

Last week I tweeted out something that may have been a little more cryptic than intended:

Coming from the person who announced his engagement on Facebook by saying “In the parlance of our times, I liked it, so I put a ring on it,” this tweet was definitely #onbrand, but maybe not on point.

Since my blog is a better place to unpack things than Twitter, here goes.

Yes, I’m bi. No, this isn’t news to me. I’ve had some pretty clear ideas about it since high school.

But I grew up in a community where most of the people around me at that time didn’t see bisexual as a valid identity. It was a transition, like poking one foot out of the closet.

The one person I opened up to about this at that time reacted with a fairly forceful argument that amounted to, “Chris, you’re not gay.”

That wasn’t what I was saying, but that’s what they heard.

That fundamental misunderstanding lived rent free in my brain. I let it silence a lot of questions for a while. Even when I consciously knew better, or had a stronger grasp of who I am, it was hard to walk away from those doubts that had taken root long ago.

So why say anything now?

Because I couldn’t not say it any longer.

As somebody who survives with depression, and has a pretty regular fight with imposter syndrome, honesty and objectivity are essential tools for me.

I need to be honest, because being able to have that baseline is helpful in keeping me going. And being able to be open with other people helps me feel connected to others. When depression is at its worst, I often try to isolate myself.

When I was teaching Intro to Media Writing, I used a quote from Socrates when talking about understanding how to write fictional characters:

The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.

It was always about helping students think through this notion that people are more complicated than they seem, and that for someone to be a character worth admiring or emulating, they should have some consistency between what they show and what they believe.

If I continued to pass as heterosexual, I wouldn’t be living honorably.

I’d prefer to live honorably.

For my kids, who are going to have their own feelings to work through as they get older. For my spouse, who deserves my honesty and to know that I feel secure enough with her to be vulnerable.

And for the people who were like me and had more questions than answers, who might need to see somebody claim an identity in a way that makes them feel they can lay claim to it, too.