Journal: My first podcast

This is a running journal of thoughts. Parts of these might serve as drafts of future videos and posts. This week, I did a lot of planning followed by straying from those plans.

Monday —
I followed the plan I laid out for the week. I did some mind mapping and took a longer daily walk (this time on The High Line) to do a longer recording. The post will be about your body and mind as an API. Tomorrow I’ll set up the draft post with section titles. Then I’ll storyboard the video and record a draft version using the Notability storyboard.

Tuesday —
Today I strayed from the plan. Instead of storyboarding and doing a rough draft take of the video, I recorded a podcast and wrote some show notes. The podcast goes over five things that I’ve been listening to, reading, or watching.

This shows a lack of focus, but I’m pretty happy with how the podcast and show notes turned out.

Wednesday —
I strayed again. Instead of working toward the topic for the week, I recorded a screencast about making marker time-lapse videos. Not ideal.

Oh I did draw this skull and Snapchat recognized it as a face so I could put eyeballs on it.

Tomorrow I’ll do a draft run.

Thursday —
I strayed again. This time I re-drew an animation out of The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams. It’s a great book.

It made me think about if I’m practicing the right things with drawing. There’s something to the idea of getting good at painting regular clocks before painting melted clocks.

But for the most part, I want to draw good stick figures. I want to learn to tell a good story over many frames instead of going deep on one frame. Drawing simpler things could be good since I want to make a bunch of simple images as part of a video.

Back to The Animator’s Survival Kit. Williams explains different animation concepts and goes over an example frame by frame. I was one small step removed from just tracing the frames out of the book. I put each on a separate layer and recorded as I toggled layers on and off.

Friday: figuring out a focusing question —
As far as straying goes, I read a Blinkist summary for Will It Make the Boat Go Faster? and liked the idea of a focusing question. I’m trying to figure out what mine will be for this blog and other creative proejcts.

Potential focus questions I came up with:

I’m listening to Designing Your Life and a major concept in the book is The Good Time Journal. First you track your activities then you figure out which ones you enjoy doing based on how engaged you are during it and how energized you feel. Which makes me think of this question:

  • Are you having a good time doing this?

When I ask myself that, I get a good amount of clarity. I know it means the combination of engagement and energy.

This reminds me of some recent discussion of star ratings vs thumbs (I enjoyed Jason Snell’s thoughts on this).

Here’s a look at some of my morning activities and how they rank with this scale:

  • Making a podcast: I’m engaged and energized when making these.
  • Making a screencast: My highest engagement is recording the final version of a screencast.
  • Writing about one topic: This is research and outlining. At its best, it sets up a good opportunity for flow when typing the actual typing words in sequence. At its worst, it’s a draining activity of switching back and forth from writing and looking stuff up.
  • Writing without planning: I’m more engaged when I write without planning. I enjoy writing these journals more than writing a long article about one topic. They end up very ramble-y though. (Ahem.)

There’s a difference between enjoying doing something and enjoying having done it. Which seems to align with the enjoyment/toward-your-goals grid I wrote about last week. With “enjoying have done it” replacing “does it go toward your goals”.

I don’t always enjoy working out but I always enjoy having done it. It’s the same thing with photography for me. I enjoy having taken pictures but am not super engaged while doing it.

Even more examples: I enjoy having written and can be pretty engaged while writing. For podcasts, I enjoy having recorded them and am also more engaged while recording.

Highest on having-done-it: I enjoy having made a screencast. This allows me to draw on my iPad a lot. While doing this and drawing slides, I’m also thinking about the topic deeply.

Highest on engagement: I enjoy recording audio. It also serves as a rough pass at outlining ideas. Then I can write notes and add links to it.

Which leads to another idea I’m calling 3-2-1. Or 1-2-3.

  • 1 podcast: talking about things I learned from books, podcasts, or videos
  • 2 screencasts: one is for a single topic, the second is some making-of journal type iPad tutorial
  • 3 posts: the podcast and topic screencast get show notes posts. Then the third post is the journal that doubles as a newsletter. (Which you’re reading right now.)

I’ll try aiming to do this through June and re-evaluate from there.

Sunday —

I’ve been watching a lot of AsapSCIENCE videos. Most of them are 2 to 7 minute time-lapsed whiteboard drawings explaining science. The visuals are interesting with some fun stop-motion animation techniques.

I want to make something like that for topics that I cover on my blog. These would be things I’m learning from things I’m reading, listening to, or watching.

It’s still in line with what I described with the 3-2-1 idea. I’ll try this out next week.

Journal: My first video

Saturday —
I’m writing some of this on the train.

I got pretty excited after making a video with content almost entirely made on my iPad: The Grid of Activities. (That’s my own post and the video is embedded.)

I doubled down on making things with the iPad. Literally. We’ll sort of. I just bought an iPad Pro 9.7″.

I’ll do a comparison sometime but this will be good. Eventually the next gen version will come out and I’ll have a good idea of which size is best for me.

I’m going to try to make this journal post each week and it’ll strictly be a journal. It’ll be the place where I blog about blogging.

Otherwise I’ll work on posts about single topics.

Every week I’ll mark two files as favorites in Ulysses. One for the journal and the other for the topic post. This is the focus I need.

Well, one is sort of unfocused and the other is very focused.

You can build a habit by being mindful until it’s mindless. I’ll try to build an audience of millions or dozens by being mindful and mindless, but in different places.

Enjoy the rest of my more mindless writing.

Sunday —
I’m writing some of this at the gym. Why? I’m between sets right now and don’t usually write anything between sets. It reminds me of an article that I re-read this week: Fuckarounditis, by Martin Berkhan:

“The problem at the core of the fuckarounditis epidemic is the overabundance of information we have available to us. If there are so many theories, articles and opinions on a topic, we perceive it as something complex, something hard to understand. An illusion of complexity is created.”

I’ve had a bad case of it at the gym. I read this five years ago and have about the same body as I had five years ago. I’m a little stronger, but definitely not demonstrating five years of progress. That’s frustrating.

I’ll try re-reading this every week so that I don’t look back five years from now, still frustrated.

The new setup, and my journey into screencasting/vlogging/YouTube-starring—

I have a better setup for recording my hand and screen while making things on the iPad. (I told you, I got pretty excited about this whole video thing.)

I often think about what Derek Sivers has to say about identifying things that are obvious to you and amazing to others.

I know how to make screencasts. Not excellent screencasts, but recording a couple screens and cutting it together isn’t a huge deal for me now that I’ve had some practice. It’s obvious to me and maybe not amazing to others, but it’s at least not obvious to others.

There are some amazing artists on YouTube who share their digital art process. I can only be half of that, by sharing my process. Now that I’m all set up, I’m hoping I can make some cool videos about using the iPad for creative work.

I’m hoping I’ll be able to relate to others who were just like me: I wanted to use my iPad to be more creative, more often. With no intention of painting masterpieces.

Here’s my first attempt at showing the process: Making things with an iPad Pro: Paper, Procreate, and Keynote.

Next up, I’ll thank my millions of subscribers in my journey to become a creative and give away an eBook in exchange for an email address but then also sell eBooks with links back to my newsletter sign-up page.

And that’s the time when I’ll start saying I use an iPad Pro and also am The iPad pro.

Thank you for joining me at the start of my journey.

The four pillars of health

Note: This would be Journal 21 or Issue 4, depending on how you’re counting. I’m going to stop numbering these. Eventually I’ll stop writing notes explaining that I’ve stopped numbering these.

After reading Tools of Titans earlier this year, I wanted to prioritize my health. If I really want to prioritize health, my daily choices should go toward that. Including media consumption. I’m trying to read and listen to less about productivity/career/business and more about fitness/nutrition/meditation.

A great place to start is Robb Wolf’s latest book, Wired to Eat: Transform Your Appetite and Personalize Your Diet for Rapid Weight Loss and Amazing Health. It builds on guidelines he popularized in The Paleo Solution.

Wired to Eat is about finding out what works for you. In his podcast appearances, he says he used lean closer to there being One True Way. But he saw more and more that the answer was often “it depends”.

The best I’ve felt was when I was eating around 80-90% paleo. Then I tried white rice out and seemed to digest it pretty well. It became part of my mental model of paleo. Then things got off the rails because I can eat a lot of rice, and I did.

White rice is my best example of “it depends”. I can digest it well, but now I know it’s something I’ll eat way too much of.

Wired to Eat has a great chapter looking beyond nutrition. Your food is one pillar of four. The other three are movement, sleep, and community.

Move move move

Nutrition and fitness go hand in hand. Here are some guidelines from Wired to Eat:

Most days: Get out and move. As much as you can, doing as many things as you can. You don’t need to exhaust yourself. Make it fun and “leave a little in the tank” so you are not so tired and sore that you either do nothing for a week or give up entirely.

I’ve been walking more. I’ve tried different activities while walking to make walking without a destination an activity itself. When there is a destination, the walks feel shorter and are more enjoyable.

I re-joined my old gym because it’s the nicest gym I’ve been a part of. It’s not a chore to go there. I sit in the sauna as a reward for lifting weights. They have basketball courts so I enjoy shooting around once in a while. Once in a while I play pick-up. (And am sore for a longer while.)

I’m trying to work yoga back into my schedule because it’s hard, I learn a lot each time, but it also lets me keep something in the tank.

I’m trying a lot of things to find a lot of things I enjoy so that I’ll move more.

Eight hours is good, but you can do more

I’ve generally been pretty good with sleep. We have blackout curtains the bedroom, I have blue blocker goggles, I spray myself with magnesium after a shower at night (learned that from Shawn Stevenson’s Sleep Smarter), I have apple cider and honey before sleep, and on and on.

Im doing a lot of small things but miss a big one: I often don’t sleep early enough. From Wired to Eat:

You may think sleeping midnight to eight A.M. is as good as ten P.M. to six A.M., but studies show this is not the case.

I’m going to work on this. I know 10:00am might not be realistic, but my goal is usually midnight which often means 12:30am or 1:00am. Shooting for 10:45pm will work well.

Make some friends

From Wired to Eat:

Some are pretty active, others less so, but the key point is that you like the activity and enjoy the community: yoga, martial arts, CrossFit, a walking or running group, an art class, a language class, volunteer work, etc. I don’t know what the right fit is for you, but I strongly encourage you to find ways to improve your social connectivity.

I want to apply this in some way and have been trying a few different things. I’ve mentioned that I started doing yoga. I haven’t gone back to the studio in a while (my ClassPass subscription ended). I tried Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a couple times. I’m still trying it out to see if it’s something I want to keep trying out long term.

That might be hard to find, but it might be worth the search.

I took a few yoga classes earlier this year. I’ve taken CrossFit. I’ve taken a couple Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes. I’ve been playing basketball every few weeks. I don’t know which one I want to do regularly. Basketball is highest on the list as far as which activity I enjoy. It’s also the one that’s the least in my control—I could play pick-up at the gym but then it becomes an activity I don’t enjoy. (I’m short.)

I’m also thinking about non-fitness communities. In 18 Minutes (check out my book notes), Peter Bergman describes some steps to figuring out your best activities.

Look at the activities you do alone and figure out if you can (and want to) do them in a way that includes other people. For example, join a garden club. Or a reading or meditation group. Or write something that other people read. If you can (and want to) make them activities that include other people, keep them on the list. If not, then cross them off.

Along with media input, I know my own output is important also. If you’re writing about something, you end up thinking about those concepts a lot. I’m going to try writing more about being healthier and happier.

I can’t wait to show you my future six pack and the happiness I gained in the journey there. (Affirmations, baby!)

Journal 20: What I’m skimming

Welcome to issue 3 or issue 20, depending on how you’re counting. I wrote new things this week, which I’ll probably share next week. Because I have a small backlog of writing that from previous weeks. Now I can finally practice scheduling posts.

I can also do some quick links to things right here. It’s like the honorable mentions of things you might want to take a look at.

What I’m watching — Jerrod Carmichael: 8 (HBO, trailer on YouTube)

A few weeks ago, I wrote notes for Jerrod Carmichael’s appearance on Tim Ferriss’s podcast. I didn’t realize he had a new HBO special until I was browsing HBO last night. If you liked Jerrod’s first special, you’ll like this also.

Oh and the Dave Chappelle Netflix specials are great also, but I’m guessing you’ve already seen them. Chappelle has a bit about going to a Kevin Hart show. I like Kevin Hart but a tier below Chappelle and Chris Rock. I really liked Kevin’s tweet responding to someone saying Chappelle is better.

What I’m reading

Next week I’ll share some things I’ve written about prioritizing health. I’ve been trying to shift my media consumption in that direction. I bought Michael Matthews’s Bigger, Leaner, Stronger on Kindle and Audible because they were on sale for a couple bucks. I didn’t know what to expect, but it’s great and the workouts look reasonable. Particularly amongst other material written for guys who are like 19 and function better with a hangover than I would now after 10 hours of sleep.

I also bought Robb Wolf’s Wired to Eat. He wrote The Paleo Solution, so that might give you a sense of what Wired to Eat is about. I always say that the time in my life that I felt healthiest was when I was following a paleo diet pretty closely. (I also was like 24 and functioned better with a hangover than I would now after 10 hours of sleep.)

If you’ve got time, check out Robb Wolf’s appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast.

The hodgepodge that comes from treating books like blogs and audiobooks like podcasts

In March, I’ve been experimenting with skimming more and not feeling the need to finish books from cover to cover. Oh yeah, so I’ve been reading:

  • Wired to Eat
  • Bigger, Leaner, Stronger
  • Hitman by Bret Hart (my favorite wrestler but man nothing is ever his fault according to him)
  • Born to Fight (MMA fighter Mark Hunt’s biography)
  • Flow (finally reading something by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi instead of something referencing him a dozen times)
  • Snow Crash (I finished this and it reminds me of Infinite Jest in that the writing and world-building is great but I needed to do some Googling to know what the hell happened)

And then an assortment of audiobooks:

  • Sapiens
  • How to Build Self-Discipline to Exercise
  • The Urban Monk
  • The Power of Thought
  • Designing Your Life
  • The Art of Possibility

What’s happened is that I’m skimming more but still feeling like I should read some of them thoroughly, which causes some kind of anxiety. I’ll stick to it for a few more weeks, but it seems to be a step back in practicing focus.

Shane Parrish and Naval Ravikant: Monkey mind

Ravikant talks about the monkey mind and throughout the podcast he talks about not being as angry as he used to be. He says that he would go through a lot of the same things but without the emotion and anger.

To be able to control the monkey mind you need to recognize that it’s there in the first place. When you sit down and meditate for the first time one of the things that you can accomplish pretty quickly is recognizing how many thoughts you have banging around your brain.

I’ve been reading Snow Crash and one of the excerpts I liked is where he talks about hearing some crazy story and taking all the facts in and what that process feels like.

Hiro puts his head in his hands. He’s not exactly thinking about this; he’s letting it ricochet around in his skull, waiting for it to come to rest.

Our minds really can be like those lottery things where all of the ping-pong balls are bouncing around. Or like the Crystal Maze where all the money is flying around in the chamber.

With enough meditation I’m hoping I can be more like bubble bobble where all the balls are organized and I can choose which one to focus on and move them around freely.

Being a straight-A student, even after school ends

I wrote about Cal Newport’s appearance on Pat Flynn’s podcast. I mentioned that they go through Cal’s history as an author. They talk briefly about How to Become a Straight-A Student, and Cal says that the one thing that matters above all others as a student is active recall.

In the past couple weeks since listening to the podcast, I’ve been recording voice notes to try applying the concept in a non-academic setting. It’s been good exercise just talking through post ideas to organize my thoughts.

That made me realize that these blog posts are very short essays. It struck me that How to Become a Straight-A Student might have some other useful tools.

It did. He talks about falling off the wagon:

To date, I have yet to have successfully followed any time-management system without interruption for longer than two months. I try, but inevitably I hit a rough patch. Typically, this happens during the few days following a really busy period—I’m so exhausted from the intensity of the preceding work that I find myself unable to even mention the word “to-do” without breaking into a cold sweat.

There’s value in knowing you’ll fall off the wagon. Mostly because you can prepare for it. He explains how a student can reset and get back on the system.

Let’s apply that elsewhere… say you signed up for a gym to re-prioritize your health. I’m trying to improve on planning workouts ahead of time. Now I know to also look for speed bumps where I’ll fall off the wagon and have a plan to reset and get back on it.

I’m going to a bachelor party in Austin in a couple weeks. There’s going to be barbecue in amounts ranging from mental guilt from eating to just plain physical pain from eating.

It’s a very, very clear speed bump. I’ve got a free training session as a sign-up bonus so I’m planning to schedule that for the week that I get back from Austin. Getting back on the wagon is easier with a little help, and I’ll be ready to be a straight-A student.

NAQ (Never asked questions): Why are you using voice notes for rough drafts?

I wrote about The Clown vs. The Editor as part of book notes for How to Write Funny by Scott Dikkers. Here’s my description of the collaboration between the clown and editor:

The Clown, being an irresponsible clown, hands this pile of scraps to The Editor and expects him to get to work. It’s better if the scraps have been sitting for a few days. Otherwise The Editor is aware that he’s actually me, except with much less face paint.

Getting to the first draft is important. Speed is good here. Authors call it the throw-up draft, the down draft, and many other names emphasizing that whatever’s going on the page is bad, and that’s okay.

I’m hoping that voice notes serve as a very first, very rough draft. A clown doesn’t sit at a desk at all. But he would certainly do some voice recordings.

I’ve experimented with dictating text. I would end up with giant walls of text that were unusable because I didn’t want to revise. Dictation meant talking out punctuation, which felt stilted. It was a middle ground that wasn’t thoughtful or fluid.

Voice notes are very fluid because you can’t self edit.

I want to make sure to stick to a process. I’ll use the right tool:

  • Working on ideas and organizing information: mind maps and outlines
  • Voice draft: record a five minute voice note
  • First draft: Ulysses

Five minutes is a good amount of time to feel out whether I know what I’m trying to say. It gives me time to reorganize a little bit. And it lets me go off on a tangent. When I hit five minutes, I can start a new note to either re-focus or go ahead and explore that other idea. Five minutes is short enough that I don’t feel like it’s really wasting any significant time, even if nothing usable comes from it.

For the past couple weeks, the recording part has been working pretty well.

Now I’m practicing going through voice notes and write a first draft. This is the beginning of a system I see a lot of promise in and plan to improve on in future posts.

Journal 19: Frank’s Neo-Xanga

Every week or two, I change my mind about which direction to take this blog.

I started by posting daily, then thought I wanted to put together short videos (and then didn’t make any), then I thought I’d focus on learning to draw, then I tried focusing on book notes, then I said I’d do photo walks every few days. Lately I’ve been trying to focus on the newsletter and share three excerpts from things I’m watching, reading, or listening to.

I’ve been testing recording voice notes through the week to do some parts of writing while walking around. They’re supposed to act as rough first drafts but now I have a bunch of rough first drafts I’m putting off parsing through. I think it’ll be useful but I need to build a system around it.

I started listening to the audiobook version of Designing Your Life. It reminded me of the value of prototyping and testing. Where I slip up is failing to factor results into my future actions. I find out something doesn’t work, then wait a few weeks and I try it again without really changing much.

It’s been a few weeks, but my enthusiasm for drawing is back. Today I went to a coffee shop and drew for 40 minutes. So I’m thinking I might draw more and have the newsletter be primarily my thoughts on learning to draw. So I might test this out next week. I’ll draw something about New York and write about it. Then start an Instagram account and build up some momentum. Then get sponsored posts and kiss this old life goodbye!

Or not, but I’ll keep trying things out. What I’m learning is that my enthusiasm for any particular direction will have ups and downs. But having consistent enthusiasm for putting work into this blog is encouraging.

Oh yeah, steering this back to drawing, here’s what drawing New York things might look like.

Drawing New York: Ikinari, East Village

The other week, my girlfriend and I went to Ikinari. It’s a Japanese chain where you order meat by the gram and eat standing up. You go to the meat counter, tell them what cut you want (rib eye, sirloin, or filet) and how many grams you want. They give it their best guess, cut it, weigh it, then cut off a piece to get it to your requested weight.

(This might be the best hand I’ve drawn.)

You got to your standing table and they bring the steak out with corn and onions cooked on a flat top.

I enjoyed it. If you want a good steak in a casual setting, it’s a great spot. I’ve heard the wait is getting longer and longer. I like most food, which becomes a problem when talking about food places. Introducing my how-long-would-I-wait-in-a-line rating: I’d wait 25 minutes to eat here.

For calibration, here are some places off the top of my head and their ratings, given about 15 seconds of thought.

  • Shake Shack, Madison Square Park: 15 minutes (But if it were my first time then I’d wait for however long.)
  • Hometown (AYCE hot pot and BBQ): I waited 3 hours with a friend that turned into 2 hours but we went to a bar nearby during the wait so definitely take that into account. Completely worth it.

Now I want to make a giant spreadsheet. I’ll stop here for now.

Re-reading books and remembering they’re a part of us

Last week, I wrote about Naval Ravikant’s appearance on Shane Parrish’s podcast. Ravikant skims a lot of books. He describes books becoming a part of you:

“I don’t know about you, but I have a very poor attention. I skim. I speed read. I jump around. I could not tell you specific passages or quotes from books. At some deep level, you do absorb them and they become part of the threads of the tapestry of your psyche. They do kind of weave in there.”

Ravikant says that he finds himself re-reading as much as he reads new material. In one of Tim Ferris’s podcast episodes, his guest asks when he’ll stop with the podcast. Tim says that he still loves doing it because he gets to talk to so many interesting people. But he does acknowledge that the amount of knowledge and his current library could be abstracted to provide guidelines for anyone to live a good life.

At a certain point, I feel like I’ve read enough books to have the guidance to live the life I want to live. I’ll probably be better off reading an old book that I know is great than diving into an old one. So I’ve started re-reading some of my favorite books from the past few years.

It’s always shocking seeing how much I’ve forgotten from the books. If it’s been a year or more, it’s almost entirely a new book. Sometimes I barely remember any specific passages but I know they’ve had lasting influence on me. It’s similar to how all our early lessons are a part of us even though our memory is very faulty.

Enthusiasm and happiness

A good way to remember things from books I’ve read is to just browse through my highlights. I’ve highlighted pretty heavily in Kindle books for the past few years. This week, I took a look through my highlights from Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. Here’s something she wrote about enthusiasm, expertise, and practice.

“Enthusiasm is more important to mastery than innate ability, it turns out, because the single most important element in developing an expertise is your willingness to practice.”

She’s comparing enthusiasm and ability to mastery. It’s interesting to think that when I first read this, I probably entirely agreed. (“Follow your passion!”) Now I think it’s closer to a chicken and the egg thing.

If enthusiasm comes first, then you’ll be able to master things that you like. People say to think about what you liked doing as a kid and that’s what you’re really passionate about. However, I loved video games and would never want to be a professional gamer. Watching behind the scenes of high-level sponsored gamers, I get the sense that it isn’t much fun in tournaments or in training. It seems like… work.

If ability comes first, you’ll practice enough to get good at it. You’ll then become enthusiastic about it because you’re good at it. The things we loved as kids were also usually things we were good at. I liked video games and was good at them. Computers were sort of like games in that you have some kind of control that changes things on screen.

Making websites has been my job for the past few years. I didn’t know what a website was until I was eleven. Was I enthusiastic about them? Only for consuming them. Did I have innate ability? I got good math grades but had no experience with computers.

In that case, enthusiasm and ability grew together: I learned to make them and became enthusiastic about making them, built my skill up, and got more enthusiastic about making them.

Follow your passion and you’ll want to practice enough to master it. Or practice something enough and you’ll get good enough to have real passion for it. They… both make sense. If instead of making websites I was building my writing and thinking skills up, I might be able to parse this and make a better point.

But I want to focus on drawing, so here’s an egg.

Journal 18: The Duel

Welcome to the first edition of this newsletter that I’m actually sending out to subscribers. I was thinking of different names so that it wouldn’t just be called Francis’s Newsletter.

My content has been centered around three things: walking, drawing, and shooting. Maybe I’ll call it The Duel. I can look at the name and remember what’s important.

The duel is against myself. When I walk, I clear my mind by silencing my negative thoughts. When I draw, my pencil battles against forces trying to keep creativity stagnant. When I shoot, I open up a third eye that sees new worlds outside and within.


I’m gonna go ahead with Francis’s Newsletter.

Treating my blog like a blog

My March experiment will be returning to writing single posts with ideas from multiple books. I’ll move away from writing multiple posts about single books. I think this will get me away from the guilt of a (virtual) pile of unfinished books.

I’m also trying more voice recording. I’ve tried writing strictly with dictation and it never really works out. I can generate a lot of text that nobody wants to read by rambling. I’d never edit it down.

Instead I’ve been using Just Press Record. It’s less stilted than when I dictate because I don’t have to say the punctuation and things like that. It transcribes the audio and what comes out is, well, text without punctuation and things like that.

While the wall of text is useless on its own, talking things out gives me a good sense of what my main point is. Also, timing myself speaking is more effective than timing myself writing. If I set a timer for three or five minutes then I only talk for that amount of time. And I’ll really talk the entire time.

If I set that same timer for writing it could be that I think and then self edit and only have a few sentences by the end of it. I might not have even figured out what I want to say.

Naval Ravikant on reading books like blogs

I’ve been reading through the transcript for Naval Ravikant on the Farnam Street podcast . It’s 46 pages and I’ve gotten through about a quarter of it and am going to listen to the rest. It reminds me of just how much content podcasts have.

Ravikant says he doesn’t really consider books a cost. It’s more of an investment in himself. I have the same approach to books as far as not feeling guilty about buying books. I think it comes from how my parents treated books.

Growing up, I had a weekly allowance but my parents would pay for any book without taking it out of my allowance. On weekend mall trips, I’d always look forward to Waldenbooks. I would go to game stores, book stores, and then the arcade.

Ravikant says he treats books like they’re blogs1. I like his comparison to blog archives. You wouldn’t just read an archive from start to finish. You would look and try to find the most interesting posts. In the same way, he goes through books and reads the most interesting sections.

Ravikant estimates that he reads about $20 of every $200 of book purchases. I’m at around $120 of every $200 of book purchases. There are good and bad things going either way. My percentage read is higher but I bet his totals are much higher. I might be reading a lot of things that aren’t all that valuable.

He calls out the societal idea that we need to finish reading books from start to end. If I’m reading nonfiction from cover to cover, I could probably afford to skip around more. If the table of contents looks like a blog archive, I should consider skipping through different parts of it rather than treating it like a novel.

Unless it’s a Michael Lewis book. He maintains a single deep narrative with lessons woven throughout. It’d be great if he weren’t the exception and more books were like his.

Instead, I’ll try skipping when I come upon the seventeenth person’s interpretation of the marshmallow study.

A map from the gist

Ravikant treats books like they’re blogs—I’m gonna try treating my next few audiobooks like they’re podcasts. I’ll jump around or skip forward if the chapter isn’t interesting.

I tried this with The 12-Week Year and was able to get the gist of the book on my first listen. One advantage of listening this way is being able to see all the connections between ideas. One disadvantage is I got the gist and only the gist. I’ll have to re-listen to understand it deeper.

The book in three sentences (took this idea from James Clear): Make 12 week plans instead of annual plans. Execute on your weekly plan. Score each week.

I liked the emphasis on trusting your weekly plan. You don’t want to create plans from scratch every week or else your weekly plan will always look like a list of urgent things. Not all of them are important for long term goals.

This is something I fall into. I don’t look at my monthly or yearly plans often enough. My weekly planning often resembles how I used to do daily planning: I move all my unfinished things from last week into this week.

Here’s a very rough 12-week plan for this blog.

  • Big goal: get to my first 1,000 subscribers: I want to double the number of mailing list subscribers each week. That would get me to 2048—which seems entirely out of reach right now. So I’ll try for 1,000.

That’s measurable. So then grouping a few of the weeks.

  • Weeks 1 to 4: 8 posts, 10 subscribers — Redesign the front page and single posts.
  • Weeks 5 to 8: 16 posts, 100 subscribers — Start sharing content on Instagram and Pinterest.
  • Weeks 9 to 12: 32 posts, 1000 subscribers — Write an eBook with links to a mailing list sign-up on every other page.

That last one is a joke, god I hate when I see that. I don’t have a weekly plan yet but I do have one idea in mind.

  • Every week: Share a post with one person I haven’t shared content with before.

Oh yeah, and a lot of reviewers say that the book ignores the fact that companies already plan this way and they’re called quarters. The Quarter Year isn’t as catchy. I liked some of the ideas in the book so I’ll give it a re-listen.

Trevor Noah on using language to fit in

I finished listening to Born a Crime a couple weeks ago. If you want to get into audiobooks it’s probably good to start with a comedian you enjoy who narrates his own book. This has never failed me.

A lot of what Trevor Noah talks about in Born a Crime revolves around language. One of the themes is how knowing so many different languages helped him in many situations. He says it’s one of the quickest ways to connect with another person. It also depends on the context.

He says that growing up he wasn’t a popular kid and he wasn’t an outcast. She could be a part of any group as long as they laughed together. He could drop by, tell a few jokes and then leave before wearing out his welcome.

In this way he described himself as a chameleon.

This concept of using language to fit in is really powerful. It’s also important to know some of the pitfalls that can happen. If you try to fit in using someone else’s language then it becomes very apparent if you fumble something. In a way it could be worse than not knowing the language at all.

Language doesn’t have to be foreign language either. If you work in some specialization you’re probably speaking a certain language. Slang or jargon you use day-to-day is part of some kind subsection of language.

If you’re trying to fit in and you say oh man I can’t wait for this football match, hopefully you’re in Europe and not a Steelers bar.

  1. This is great because with the rise of self-publishing, a lot of people are treating their blogs like they’re books. Nothing like a mailing list link in the introduction to make you more aware that you’re somewhere in their cross channel marketing funnel.

Journal 17: More Things I Learned

(Then even more things I learned, then scary things to learn in the dark, etc.)

I didn’t draw as much this week. I did write a few posts:

  • Podcast Notes: Cal Newport and Pat Flynn — I’ve been reviewing Cal Newport’s Deep Work lately. His appearance on Pat Flynn’s podcast was a nice surprise. I wrote some notes about their discussion.
  • Book Notes: The Alchemist — I finished reading the alchemist last week and wrote some notes for it I haven’t quite posted to the front page because I don’t have a drawing related to it right now. My book notes expand on the blurb about The Alchemist that I wrote in my last journal post: passion isn’t everything (Hey hey, Newport and Flynn talk about that on a certain podcast), but affirmations do have a lot of power.
  • Book notes: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running — I listen to this audiobook in a day or two. I’ve been doing this more often just walking around listening to audiobooks in a few days. It seems much more effective than when I read through but very quickly and and mostly skimming it. Getting through large chunks of books in one go that makes it easier to see connections. It’s like binge watching a TV show over a weekend versus watching the season through normal weekly releases. I imagine the same negatives come with that as well. Oh yeah, the book. It could basically be called what I write about when I write about writing. There’s so much insight into how he approaches writing and what it means to live his life as a writer. There are pitfalls and there are great things about it and he’s able to explain that and related to his other interest: long distance running.

This week, I’ll try again with notes from three different sources. Last week it was all books. It won’t be that way every week. I want to mix some podcast notes, YouTube videos, and any other thing I might find some inspiration from.

(As I’m writing that I’m realizing this is just about the standard newsletter format.)

Laughing every day

In the past year, I’ve read a handful of books about writing comedy. Unfortunately (for me), you wouldn’t be able to guess that by my writing. I started another one, Comedy Writing Secrets by Mark Shatz and Mel Helitzer. Here’s one of the early suggested exercises:

List your ten favorite comedians and humorists, and use the Internet to search for jokes or quotes by each of these individuals. After you amass twenty jokes, write each joke on an index card. On the back of each card, identify the subject or target of the joke, and explain why you think the joke is funny. This exercise will help you become aware of the format of successful jokes and provide you with insight into your own comedic preferences.

I’m realizing just how little I’ve actually executed on the different exercises offered up in all the comedy writing books. My takeaway from all of those books and any interview with comedians is that it can be learned but it’s very hard work. Then I proceed to not do any of the hard work. I haven’t tried creating association lists or anything like that.

I used to have a template for daily journaling. It had the usual things like gratitudes and picking out most important tasks. I also wrote one thing that made me laugh every day.

By far, those laugh sections are the best reason to go back and read those old journal entries. It best captures how much there is to enjoy day to day. A lot of the entries would be about some dumb thing a friend texted. And I’m able to remember how I felt reading it.

I suspect doing this would have a similar effect to writing gratitudes every day. I’ll try that on my own and also try explaining why I found it funny. Because jokes you have to explain are the best kind.

Daily decrease

I read Declutter Your Mind last week and came across this Bruce Lee quote:

“It’s not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.”

In college I managed to lock down a single room at one of the dorms my sophomore year. I heard they were small, but then I opened the door and saw this.

It redefined what a small room was to me. Now that I’ve experienced New York apartments, it doesn’t seem so bad. In either case, spending a year in that dorm room showed me how much I needed to live comfortably. The answer: not much. I did a pretty good job avoiding acquiring stuff throughout the years. I did a suitcase-only move to New York.

In the past couple years I’ve really been able to start applying that type of thinking to other aspects in life. I’ve been enjoying just walking around for the sake of walking lately. Which is taking advantage of the city and taking it for granted at the same time.

I also ordered an iMac earlier this week and canceled and then ordered it again. I still like stuff, so I know I’m not quite ready to turn into a ball of plasma and join the energy stream. But maybe I can increase meditation sessions to 15 minutes.


I’ve been reading Snow Crash and I came into it thinking it was a super serious book about VR. I didn’t expect so much hilarious writing. Descriptions here and there keep making me chuckle. I’ll have to read more Neal Stephenson books. Here’s a description of gargoyles, who attached computers to themselves to become advanced PIs but look more like human surveillance systems:

Nothing looks stupider; these getups are the modern-day equivalent of the slide-rule scabbard or the calculator pouch on the belt, marking the user as belonging to a class that is at once above and far below human society.

It’s a perfect description of so many contemporary things. I used to use an armband with a slot to slide your iPhone into during workouts. When I wanted to change tracks I’d tap some things on my bicep or tricep depending on how much the armband moved around. It was just a few taps away from the Predator trying to blow up Arnold and the jungle.

Technology and startups are cool now. They’ll always be able to trace their lineage to some calculator pouch. I’ll always trace my lineage to weekends looked like this:

Journal 15: Working on a new layout

I started working on a simplified layout for posts after writing my pseudo-live walking blog. (The first of what I hope will be many.)

I’ve been drawing again and haven’t ever quite figured out a good way to share sketches. Most people will be looking at this on a phone so I need to remember that and work toward a good format. I don’t think I’ll start sketching in 600px boxes, but I just might be sharing it that way.

This week I read an ESPN feature with Hollywood screenwriters writing a story for the Warriors season. I saw it on my phone and liked how it looked. I figured it’d have some sort of responsive design treatment so I hopped on the computer to take a look.

I was surprised at how straightforward it was. The header image went wide but everything else just had a max width of 600px. (Which, if you opened this post up in developer tools, you’ll see I’m trying nearly the same setup for this first iteration.)

Sort of a breath of fresh air and it just reminded me of the pleasant time in web development when it wasn’t tooling hell. (I’ll also acknowledge that the same tooling is what helped me put a first version of this layout together in an hour.)


This always feels a little uglier than I’d like. I’m a designer by day but you probably wouldn’t have guessed looking at the state of my site. I wanted to focus on the writing and drawing. I still do, but I know I can put 20% effort into the design and development of the layouts and it can go a pretty long way.

What’s with the farmers?
I’ve been reviewing my notes from Deep Work. It’s one of my favorite books from the last few years. I wrote a bunch of notes to do some kind of epic post I had in mind and I of course never got around to it.

I want to write some book notes posts for it though. One thing that’s stuck with me is the story he tells about a farmer and his tools. The point it is getting across is that useful tools might not be worth it. Particularly because the resources for that tool could potentially be used to get a better tool.

The resource is time and the tool he’s arguing against is social media. I’ve found a lot of value through Twitter. My current career wouldn’t be the same without Twitter.

Now is a different season though. It doesn’t provide as much value. Especially weighed against the amount of time I lose using it. There’s a lot of interesting stuff that I find through Twitter. I can and have spent entire days just reading cool things on Twitter.

Kotler and Flow, again
I re-listened to part of the Joe Rogan Experience episode with Steven Kotler through this clip about creativity and flow states. Kotler says he wakes up and wants to be writing within minutes.

For me it’s, wake up at 3:30, 4:00 AM. And I like to be… I like to be writing before my brain is awake. I want to be writing within 4 minutes of getting out of bed.


He goes on to explain that he wants to keep his brain waves in the creative phase.

For more from Kotler, check out my book notes on The Rise of Superman.

What’s with the people at brunch?

I was thinking of drawings I could do for my book notes for We Learn Nothing by  Tim Kreider. A major theme through the book is that we worry too much about things that aren’t so important in the big picture. Namely, work and careers. They’re important but we take for granted how important spending a day with friends is.

I started trying to schedule posts in really rough states. It was supposed to act as a forcing function to finish posts. Surprisingly, it worked. Along with those We Learn Nothing notes, here are three other book notes posts I wrote in the past week:

I’m slowly converging on the proper mix of writing, drawing, consistency, and ease in the system. In writing, drawing, editing photos, editing drawings, and adding them all to a WordPress post, there are just a lot of places where friction exists. Bit by bit, I’m removing inessential things from the system and posting things I’m happy to share with others.

Journal Issue 13: The Blog of Five Things

My progress on this blog reminds me of Seth Godin’s concept of The Dip. The total effort is accumulating but the results aren’t increasing. A dip can come before a breakthrough. If there’s no breakthrough coming, it’s not a dip it’s just a dead end. The trouble is that they look similar. Is this a dip or is it a dead end?

If I read the book maybe I could take a look at my situation and answer that in a few minutes. But I haven’t, so I’ll just assume the breakthrough is coming.

A template for five things

I’ll continue a rough format of five sections. Earlier posts that were more fun, both to write and read. They involved drawing. I haven’t drawn at all in over a week and haven’t been drawing regularly in a month.

I want to get back in the drawing habit. One of the best things I did regularly a couple months ago was was use storyboard templates for brainstorming.

In my effort to get back to that, I made a storyboard template that moves everything into one column to follow the blog post format better.

Each page has five of the blocks with a place for a doodle and a few lines below it. Here’s a look at a rough explanation of Warren Buffet’s goal-setting technique.

Eventually I would write a post about focusing and one technique for happiness is not focusing on becoming a billionaire like Warren Buffet.

Writing through the book backlog

I’ve still been reading. Writing book notes increases the value of the book for me quite a bit. It’s a no-brainer to continue them. I can read a book faster than I write the posts, though, so a backlog continues growing.

Here are books I’ve finished in the past couple months that I want to write notes for:

  • Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler
  • Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow
  • We Learn Nothing by Tim Kreider
  • Momo by Michael Ende
  • The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis

When the year started, I increased the frequency of listening to an audiobook. There’s a backlog for them also:

  • Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
  • Joy on Demand by Chade-Meng Tan
  • Search Inside Yourself by Chade-Meng Tan
  • Live Right and Find Happiness (although beer is much faster) by Dave Barry
  • The Mindful Athlete by George Mumford
  • The Joy of Less by Francine Jay

I can’t write 3 posts for all of these books. I don’t want to be overwhelmed by the backlog. I need to work on a solution somewhere int he middle.

The first thought is to stop reading as much and write more. Except I can’t exactly. Reading time isn’t equivalent to writing time. Reading can be done in smaller chunks of time. It’s not ideal but it works better than trying to write full posts in smaller chunks of time.

I know you were waiting for a bad food analogy—don’t worry I’ve got one.

Reading in chunks adds up. It’s like making a crepe cake. Which I’ve never done. But you add a layer a time. 10 pages here, 10 pages there. Soon you’ve got the full cake and read the entire book.

Writing in small chunks is more like adding chunks of butter to a stew. What kind of stew it is that you add butter to, I don’t know. The small pieces disappear.

I have a few better options:

  • I can write single posts with collections of shorter thoughts. That at least helps give me the mental checkmark of completely finishing a book. I can move on and write about the next book. If I write 3 posts for a book, take it as a sign that I really enjoyed it.
  • I can skip writing a book notes post altogether. I’ll probably just give some brief thoughts in one of these journal posts.

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

I’ve been listening to more audiobooks. When the year started, I did a photo walk and really enjoyed it. Almost the entire time, I was listening to Steve Martin’s memoir Born Standing Up.

I never knew how big Steve Martin was until reading Judd Apatow’s Sick in the Head. Here’s how Apatow describes Steve Martin:

When I was young, I loved him without even understanding the premise of his act. I didn’t realize that he was poking fun at the self-importance of showbiz personalities, or the clichés of comedy. There was this whole meta thing going on that was completely over my head.

In Born Standing Up, Martin describes different points in his career and you see the development of the meta aspect of his act. He goes from being a magician doing someone else’s act to doing his own magic act to removing the magic and then realizing people are laughing at some parts that aren’t exactly part of the act to honing in and focusing on that.

Audiobooks and podcasts

Back to Sick in the Head. Key and Peele talk to Judd Apatow about improv and how it compares to stand-up. Peele talked about working with Key:

“The best moments I’ve ever seen in improv are funnier than the best stand-up bits that I’ve ever seen. There’s something that can only happen between two people collaborating, and I just think that two people with the same vision is better than one.”

The best moments from podcasts are funnier than the best audiobook moments. If you asked me a few months ago, I would’ve said audiobooks are a better use of time. I’ve changed my mind on that. Especially when listening for leisure. I’m more likely to laugh at a conversation between two people when they’re laughing.

Look out for my future post “17 ways podcasts are better than audiobooks except buy these audiobooks with the affiliate tag“.


A lot of my earliest memories involve watching my brother play videogames with his friends. They all seem to just have the blurred faces of memories or at least a tendency to never look at my memory camera. I remember them playing Street Fighter II over and over trying to it beat it with every character. It took them hours to beat it with Dhalsim. That’s my very first memory of yoga.

I’ve been telling friends “I started doing yoga”. I don’t know if taking an intro class counts as starting. “Starting” implies that I’ll be continuing.

A couple years ago I realized I couldn’t touch my toes anymore. This was never an issue until I went probably a decade without every trying it. Then it was an enormous struggle. I knew mobility was a part of CrossFit so I went with my normal pattern of joining a CrossFit gym and attending until I injure myself.

I’m going to try the combination of yoga and whatever meathead strength plan sounds good for the month at the local Globo gym. I’m 3 classes in and day to day I’m feeling pretty good.

Journal Issue 12: Still making, showing, and learning

“In that really enthusiastic moment I decided I’d do a 1-hour photo walk every day. I’ve since decided that’s definitely unsustainable but I might be able to do 3-4 times a week. I’ll post every Sunday. Starting, like many goals, on January 1st.” — Me in my last post, definitely more than a few Sundays back

Bill Simmons categorizes some teams as the best of the bad teams. If all excuses for not writing are bad, then mine is at least a one of the better bad reasons. I’ve been moving. Which mostly means I’ve been packing and unpacking. The move itself was miraculously only a couple hours.

I’ve wanted this blog to be sustainable. I’ll probably need more structure. Here’s what I’ll try this week

1 update

1 book excerpt

1 link

1 photo set

1 drawing

You’re reading the update. It should be some kind of dispatch. Aka where I write about writing. Blog about blogging. Shoot about shooting.

Book excerpt

I’ll stop quoting Tools of Titans. Someday. A lot of tools work that I’ve started using. I finally tried one that didn’t quite work. It involves getting to sleep:

Have trouble getting to sleep? Try 10 minutes of Tetris. Recent research has demonstrated that Tetris—or Candy Crush Saga or Bejeweled—can help overwrite negative visualization, which has applications for addiction (such as overeating), preventing PTSD, and, in my case, onset insomnia.

The problem with 10 minutes of Tetris is it’s enough to remember how fun Tetris is. It snowballed quickly. After a few games, I bought the premium version. Then it was 2am. Then I was sleepy the next day.


I liked what Tim had to say in this reply when someone asked about giving advice:

  • Speak from experience
  • Detailed specifics
  • Suggested next action.

I gave some detailed specifics. My suggested next action based on my experience: pick a worse game.

Photoset: It’s my last week in East Village

I haven’t been posting but I have been writing drafts. I wrote this before my move while I was in the process of packing.

I’ve taken my goal down from doing a photo walk every day to taking my camera with me regularly. That seems to be working. I remind myself that posting some pictures from the week doesn’t mean I need to take hundreds each day. It’s hard for one photo to stand on its own. To think I’d be able to take a dozen or more good photos in a week is a little too ambitious.

It reminds me of some of career advice by Scott Adams (2007)

In my case, I can draw better than most people, but I’m hardly an artist. And I’m not any funnier than the average standup comedian who never makes it big, but I’m funnier than most people. The magic is that few people can draw well and write jokes. It’s the combination of the two that makes what I do so rare.

That’s why I’ll be accompanying mediocre pictures with mediocre writing. Be like the traffic director. Work the intersection.

Oh yeah the pictures. Well a little more a do. Here are some things I have in mind for making this photo walking thing work:

I need a minimal workflow: I’ve stopped shooting RAW. Less thinking.

I’ll use Google Photos to edit: I stick my SD card in my MacBook, drag and drop to Photos, then move the files to an external hard drive. That’s enough backup for me right now.

(Disclaimer — I work at Google. Photos is one of my favorite digital products in the last few years.)

I’ll write in Ulysses and post with WordPress: I started using Ulysses a week or two ago. I’ve been using albums in Google Photos to sort out which ones I want to post.

I’ll edit on my iPhone and iPad: It’s fun.

And now, another photo story. I’ll start with 5 photos. Before leaving East Village, I was working through an East Village bucket list. There are plenty of better places by all sorts of measures. This isn’t representative of “real” New York. I’m a transplant. Here are places I like.

Boba Guys — I had a teammate at my old job and we’d get McDonald’s Frappes on Friday mornings. One tradition I miss. I took it back to work once and felt pure shame walking through the office with it. Never again. No domed lids and no big straws.“C’mon Frank.” But that was work. I can get them all I want when I’m at home.

I shot this blurry picture on one of the snow days before wiping the lens.

Cafe Matcha Wabi — Great matcha. Lots of shiba inu owners on the weekend.

Takahachi — I got a chirashi dinner for takeout here somewhere around once a month. I’ll usally go on runs where it’s once a week then I’ll cool off for a bit. Always reliable.

Sunny & Annie’s — My favorite deli. I went a few times through the years then probably weekly for the last couple months. Pho #1 on a wrap hits the spot in nearly every situation.

Oh yeah a drawing

I drew Jocko Willink and Michael Che earlier this week for a post about thinking positively about seemingly negative situations. It’s a book notes post for Sick in the Head.

I hadn’t drawn in a couple weeks so it did seem like the beginning stages of when a hobby ends. Drawing these made me remember how fun it is. Which is a weird thing to forget. It’s like bowling as an adult—always fun but then I forget about it after a day or two.

We’ll see where this goes.

Make, Show, Learn Issue 11: How to increase your readership 2100%

The key is to start with 4 viewers.

I posted a few things last week:

Well, I mean I posted them here but also finally shared a couple somewhere else. (Twitter and Hacker News.) Readership went up 2100%. Something tells me (that something is called common sense) that isn’t sustainable.
It made me wonder, is this blog a “Yes” or a “HELL YEAH”? I first heard that prioritizing question in Anything You Want by Derek Sivers. He recently wrote this post: How to do what you love and make good money

People take “and” to mean one thing that takes care of both. It’s certainly possible, but the success rate isn’t so high. Another problem is that sometimes you start making money doing what you love and then stop loving it because of what it takes to make money.

Derek points out that it’s two separate things, so it’s worth treating them as two separate things:

For both of them, I prescribe the lifestyle of the happiest people I know:

  1. Have a well-paying job
  2. Seriously pursue your art for love, not money

Through this blog, I’m trying to satisfy #2. Derek explains some advantages of being able to work on your art without needing for it to sell.

You don’t need to worry if it doesn’t sell. You don’t need to please the marketplace. No need to compromise your art, or value it based on others’ opinions.

You’re just doing this for yourself — art for its own sake.

Not every post I’ve written has been a “HELL YEAH”. Definitely not in terms of quality. As far as value to me, I’ve learned to sit down and write and finish things. So it’s at least a “yes”. Which is great because that’s the right direction toward “HELL YEAH”.

Moving in the right direction

Some posts are very fun to write. Some can feel like slogs. The posts that I put together last week about reading and writing unfortunately were closer to the latter. I knew I’d be sharing them, so a lot of times I was wondering “will other people like this”? Which is a good way to ensure the answer is “no”.

I put together a post with some photos of food I ate in 2016. It was fun to go through that. I also read an annual recap of things I did in 2013, which was fun to look back on. I went further back to a post from 2008 just recapping a weekend with friends. Like many blogs from back then, mine was pretty much a public journal. I captured mundane day to day things that grow more interesting with time. For the sake of having captured what that time is really like1.

These personal blogs captured that time differently than social media does. It’s fun to check out a “This day 5 years ago” feature in social networks, but it’s different than the posts I used write.

I would write not really caring what other people thought. Similar to early social media when I didn’t worry about polluting feeds with my dumb writing. I knew nobody cared what I wrote. It’s freeing. Now I think people might care what I write. Which is silly because they’d have to read it in the first place, and that’s not happening yet.

I used to write small blurbs about pictures showing what I did during a week or a month.I had fun writing those things regularly over a few years. To move the creation of this blog to “HELL YEAH”, I should get back to having that kind of fun while writing.

Of course, I’ll need pictures. So I took a walk.


I brought my camera along. I can’t remember enjoying taking photos like this in a long time. Years probably. Even when I was first in New York I was still trying to take long exposures at night. You need gear. You need to set it up. I was happy with the results but it wasn’t exactly a process I learned to love.

Instead of hauling gear, this time I would just take my camera, put an audiobook on, walk around and take some pictures. Here are some things I saw.

Seeing these balloon guys reminded me that I won’t always see things like this. But I’ll never see them if I’m in my apartment all the time. Walking around will remind me of why I moved here in the first place.

If I ever think there isn’t anything to take pictures of, I’ll remind myself that I’m a moron. I live in the middle of Manhattan. I don’t subscribe to it being the center of the universe, but it’s certainly photogenic. If anything, you’ll always see new people.

Also, if I’m not feeling inspired, I can remind myself that I just need to put the camera over my head and pretend I’m accepting an Olympic medal. I don’t have to lug a piano around to do my art.

It’s too easy to think there won’t be anything interesting to shoot. As if it’s the city’s responsibility to provide something to take pictures of. It’s like that saying about being interesting to talk to by actually being interested in what the other person is talking about.

I also need to figure out what I’ll write to go along with pictures. This bagel is from Tompkins Square Bagels. They’ve got a new location that’s slowly becoming just as busy as the original.

Katz’s is less than a ten minute walk away. I’ll just have to pick out some default places to walk to and try my best there. I can rely on Katz’s for a couple more weeks then I’m moving up a couple dozen streets.

I’m guessing I thought the delivery guys getting ready was interesting. Down the road, this might be the kind of picture I’ll simply leave out.

I was considering using this for the main image at the top of the post. I shot it looking up at The New School.

As mentioned, I’ll be moving out of East Village soon. Meaning I’m trying to hit some of my favorite spots in the next couple weeks. Today we went to Minca for some ramen.

I’m reading through Momo right now. It’s about a town where a group of gray men come through and offer everyone the opportunity to save your time at a bank. You lose it today but sometime down the road you can use it. It’s a novel for children (by the same author as The Neverending Story) with a lot of good lessons about what’s important.

The photo above reminded me of a part where Momo finds a Barbie doll and one of the book’s gray men encourages her to play with it:

“You see?” the gray man went on. “It’s all very simple. You just have to keep buying more and more, and then you’ll never get bored. But maybe you think that the complete Barbiegirl will one day have everything and that she’ll become boring again? No, little girl, don’t worry! We have the perfect companion for Barbiegirl.”’

Dark and heavy.

On a lighter and lighter note, walking and shooting was fun I figure pretty healthy. In that really enthusiastic moment I decided I’d do a 1-hour photo walk every day. I’ve since decided that’s definitely unsustainable but I might be able to do 3-4 times a week. I’ll post every Sunday. Starting, like many goals, on January 1st.

January 1st-ish

You might notice the post date is January 2nd. I tried hopping on the wagon and fell off the other side immediately. It’s okay. I’ll be okay posting a day late or missing a week. Once it gets to two weeks missed, then I’ll worry.

If I’m burning out just to post on time, then I’m doing this for the wrong reason. It’s supposed to be a fun outlet. I want to stretch myself but I don’t want to add something stressful as a hobby.

These walks won’t be daily, but I’ll find out what I can do

Walking daily is healthy. Shooting daily would be good to get my reps in. These can work together. I enjoyed this post by Eric Kim: Walk Your Camera

Walking gives me a reason to shoot and shooting gives me a reason to walk. If I don’t feel like doing one then I can remind myself of the benefits of doing the other.

I’ll see how this goes. I’m still thinking through what exactly this format will be. I’ll be sure to share those thoughts soon. In any case, I hope you’ll follow along this year.

  1. I always think back to Facebook in college. I wish I had a screencast of using it for ten or so minutes back then. Just a regular daily activity but it’s hard to remember exactly what it was like. Before the news feed, did I just do some cycle of searching by people’s names? ↩︎

Make, Show, Learn Issue 10

I’m at The Met right now1. I thought it’d be good to try a change of environment. On Saturday, I spent most of the day at home. It was snowing outside but I wasn’t snowed in or anything. I spent a few hours writing about the tools I’ve started using from Tools of Titans.

Friday night, I tinkered with the site2. I added feature images to the front page along with book covers for some of the book notes posts.

I probably should’ve done that a while ago. I also added a mailing list signup so feel free to be my first subscriber.

What will I send out to the mailing list? It won’t be every single post. I need to build up the courage to post those to Twitter.

When I was posting daily, I could always rely on two weekly posts to add shorter things to: Friday links posts and the Sunday journal.

These weekly issues are basically the Sunday journal. And I can definitely find five links to write about each week. The mailing list should capture new things I added to the site for the week.

Ten thousand, one thousand, but first, ten. Here are three links I’ve linked to before). They’re top of mind again after seeing two of them referenced in Tools of Titans.

First, Ten — Seth Godin

1,000 true fans — Kevin Kelly

The ten thousand reader rule — Shawn Coyne

All of them talk about audience sizes to aim for. They work together. You won’t reach 1,000 or 10,000 people without finding 10 willing to share. When you reach 10,000 people reading for free, not all of them will be willing to pay. When you can find 1,000 people willing to pay for anything you make, you can quit your day job.

But for me — first, one.

Oh yeah, I’m at the Met
I brought my iPad to draw some things. My drawing has been aimless the past few weeks so I started reading Keys to Drawing again. I’m still practicing sizing things properly. It’s something I can at least evaluate on my own by comparing to a photo.

I was drawing some of the statues in the American wing. I realized if I’m practicing sizing, the shapes can be pretty simple.

I looked up and noticed the left-most statue was way too short.

I’m still having a hard time drawing what I see. Adding on to fix that.


I tried drawing Cleopatra.

Well, a statue of Cleopatra.

I was a little self conscious drawing on an iPad in public. Then I realized I probably would’ve been self conscious with a sketch book too.

Then I remembered the eternal words of Don Draper:

“I don’t think about you at all.”

And I remembered the tourists aren’t thinking about what I’m doing at all. So many things are insignificant. It can be sad or it can be freeing. It’s up to you. Jerry Seinfeld has some tips for dealing with that.

Some other drawings
I’m writing a post going over my ten favorite books from the year and am trying to draw each author. Some have come out better than others.

That’s all for this week. One Sunday post left for this year! I’ll also try to finish a couple more Tools of Titans posts and the top-10 books post I mentioned above.

If I really push, I’ll finish a post about reading 52 books in 2016. It wasn’t as hard as I expected. Most people could do it by changing time spent reading whatever feeds or social news sites into time reading books. It also wasn’t as valuable as I expected. A lot of books weren’t great and I finished some for the sake of finishing them. I’d rather spend more time picking 26 books and digesting them properly.

  1. Well, I at least started writing this there. But I’m finishing it at home instead of in front of sculptures. ↩︎
  2. Maybe I shouldn’t mention I spent Friday night staring at a screen to wind down after a week of work staring at a screen. ↩︎

Make, Show, Learn Issue 9

The year is coming to a close. If I stick to posting issues on Sundays, there are 3 left: December 11th, 18th, and 25th.

I want to do some annual recap posts. Those can be long and should be written in parts. So I’m trying something this week. Every day I’ve been trying to do morning pages. I just keep everything in one file and add to it every morning for at least 25 minutes. Right after getting to the gym.

It’s because I read about morning pages again in How to Write Funny (check out my book notes). Everyone has slightly different takes on morning pages. I’ve started writing them with some idea that I’ll review them in the future for ideas.

Sundays are my time to review the morning pages from the week to figure out what I’ll take through to rewrite, revise, and post in the following week. I’m supposed to pick two topics.

I’m writing this on Thursday, so I have a few days of morning pages. It currently says 3038 words.

Here are some things I wrote about:

  • Cheesesteaks (I was in Philadelphia last week)
  • Flow (Still in mind because I read Rise of Superman a few weeks ago)
  • Tools of the Titans by Tim Ferriss
  • Healthy, wealthy, and wise (a life audit)
  • Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow and how it’s sort of been like tools of the titans of comedy
  • There are a few topics to write about from Sick in the Head: Make it shorter, make it funnier; Jon Stewart; Different time periods; Jerry Seinfeld and insignificance
  • As long as you get 7 hours of sleep
  • 10 favorite books of 2016
  • Reviewing morning pages
  • Mental diet part 2
  • Do I have the discipline to write about one or two things each week?

If I follow my plan, I’ll grab a couple of these topics to turn into full posts. Some of the morning pages sections are longer than the others. I’ve really been diving into Sick in the Head. I thought I’d buy it and just open it up over the next few months and read an interview here and an interview there. But I can’t put it down.

So I should write some book notes for it. Particularly a Jerry Seinfeld excerpt where he talks about looking at photos taken but the Hubble telescope to remind himself how unimportant he is. We’re drops in the bucket.

I should also post something I wrote sort of as a letter to myself. If I get 7 hours of sleep then I should go to the gym first thing in the morning. This post explains why.

I should keep the 10 favorite books of 2016 in mind for a couple weeks from now. I’d like to close out with a recap of all he books I read in 2016.

I’m gonna go ahead and drop some cheesesteak photos here instead of separating it into a different post.

Here are some progress shots from my drawings this week.

Shannon Briggs drawing. This was for my post about the importance of our mental diet.

Tim Ferriss drawing. This is for Tools of Titans. I’ve drawn Tim Ferriss before so it was good to see my progress.

I’m not improving as quickly as I’d like. I need to get back to reading Keys to Drawing. I also just need to draw more. I’ve been setting time aside to write. I need to do the same for drawing.

Arnold Schwarzenegger drawing. This is also for Tools of the Titans. My drawing seems to have skipped leg day.

Lion drawings.

I wanted to draw something to represent the low roar of the city in describing walking around with Bose QC35s. I wrote a review after a couple weeks of use.

Make, Show, Learn Issue 8

I’m writing directly in the WordPress editor again. Right now I have a few stray ideas in iA Writer along with a few stray drawings. I’m missing any sense of the bigger picture, though. So I’m trying to lay that out in WordPress.

In the past few weeks I’ve considered abandoning the weekly format.

I eventually want to write longer pieces that are about one topic. My approach was writing long posts made up of disparate topics. That’s what these posts have been. Then I’d slowly learn to weave things together until I really was writing about one topic each week. That doesn’t seem to be working.

Instead, it might be better to go the other way. Return to shorter posts focused on single topics. If I can’t get good at that then I won’t ever be good at writing a good section of a bigger piece.

Publishing every day earlier this year nearly burned me out. It reminds me of something I read in Judd Apatow’s Sick in the Head:

“This idea that your generation has about ‘you have to burn your material and start fresh every time’—it’s just so self-important. Not everybody’s watching everything you do, you know.” — Jerry Seinfeld to Amy Schumer to Judd Apatow

The difference between 75 posts and 100 posts isn’t actually much. Nobody is going to read everything. Even if they’re following closely, it’s the difference between writing 3 posts every 4 days and writing 4 posts every 4 days.

Nobody will be upset by the off day, especially if each post is of higher quality.

Even the difference between 50 and 100 isn’t much.

Here’s what I like about posting weekly:

  • I can handle once-a-week. Even if I’m busy during the week I know I’ll be able to pull something together and have a post ready on Sunday.
  • Nice mile markers. Even now, I enjoy going week by week and seeing how things are evolving. My drawing is improving. (My writing less so.) I have a good sense of how long a week is. It’s just nice to think in weeks.

Here’s what I don’t like about weekly posts:

  • I stopped creating book notes posts. Instead, potential book notes posts are sections in each of the weekly posts.
  • They’re too long. Even when actively trying to make them shorter, they just end up long. There are too many thoughts that the posts just come off a little scattered. Each post lacks focus. The long length also turns me off to editing at all.
  • I’m forgetting what’s in each post. When I had 4 issues, I knew what drawing was where. Now that I need two hands to count, I’m losing track of where that Gucci Mane drawing was.
  • It’s hard to share. It’s hard to do the ‘show’ part of Make, Show, Learn. Hard might be the wrong word. It’s still just a share button away. I’d love to be able to link directly to my thoughts on DHH and his appearance on the Tim Ferriss Show. I can do that with anchor tags to jump to the middle of the page, but it doesn’t feel quite right.

Here are some scattered ideas for what I can do moving forward:

  • Continue writing a weekly post. Blogging about blogging. If you’re not interested in that, you can skip it. The good thing is it gives me a dumping ground for any meta discussion. Without that, I tend to litter my other writing with those thoughts. The weekly post can be one giant footnote.
  • In the same weekly post, write about drawing. Weekly posts are nice mile markers. I can compile all the scraps and sketches and progress shots for any illustrations.
  • Write book notes posts each week. I already do the time-consuming part by reading the book. I even highlight a lot. It’s worth taking one extra step to really finish the book. I’ll go through the highlights, dedicate space to thinking about what I learned, and distill knowledge to share with others.
  • Write a podcast show note each week. I’m always listening to things, so I may as well share the good stuff.

I followed it a little bit this week.  I finished 3 book note posts for How to Write Funny. Focusing on one idea at a time was really nice. I don’t get so tempted to jump from section to section. And I can truly put the book away mentally.

I like it a lot for writing. Now I just need to get back to drawing.


Make, Show, Learn Issue 7


I was in Seattle and Vancouver this past week. I took a week off from drawing, instead showing my girlfriend the majesty of my hometown. Meaning showing that I wasn’t joking about Wal-Mart being one of the prime places to spend time at. And taking the 40-minute trip to the nearest mall.

To keep things running  this week, I had a post pretty much ready to post once I got back. I didn’t have it scheduled. I wanted to add this short dispatch section to keep everyone tuned into what I’ve been up to. Here are a few quick updates.

I finished a book this week — The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance by Steven Kotler. It’s about flow how it helped action sports progress rapidly in the past few decades. I enjoyed getting away from my usual echo chamber. It’s got me thinking I should be a lot more deliberate in the books I choose to read.

Anyway, it feels like the first time in a while that I finished a book in a week. Flights help with that. I took a quick look at my reading in the past couple months and realized I hit my goal of 52 books this year. Longer recap to come.

Thanks to my girlfriend, I now have a pair of Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones. I’ll write some thoughts about my first week with them. After a couple days using them, I only wish I had them earlier.

I also have these drawings of Conor McGregor and Mike Tyson. They had to do with something Joe Rogan said about knockouts.


What you see happen in the ring is only the beginning. Recovering from that is something that can take weeks and months. Eventually I’ll write something comparing this to burning out mentally. By the time you realize you’re burned out, it’s going to take a bit of time to recover from it.


I wish this was for a better topic, because I liked how this illustration turned out. (Though my struggle with faces continues.)


I’ve already started on a few drawings for the next post. A few will be expansions of the quick updates above. We’ll be back to the regularly scheduled program this Sunday.


What I’m Reading: What in God’s Name

I finished What in God’s Name a couple weeks ago. It was the last of Simon Rich’s books that I hadn’t read. In the book, God is a CEO and heaven is his company. Angels are employees and are able to make things happen on earth.

A few of the scenes involve a server that stores all of history. You can search and watch things like it’s YouTube.

That got me thinking about what places I would want to check out if I had access to the server.


The pyramids
I was very interested in the pyramids as a kid. Anytime I had a choice of topic to do in a school project, I tried doing something on the pyramids. I’d tell everyone I knew that they’re set in the earth following Orion’s Belt. There’s still speculation about how they were built and who built them. It’d be great to just go and see for myself.


Feudal Japan
I grew up in Japan (sort of). It’d be cool to see what it was like when samurai were prevalent. What in God’s Name describes the server as showing things that end up underwhelming. People aren’t as beautiful as the legends say. I have a feeling this is what it would be like without any specific battle to go to. I’d just see them practicing a lot.


The coliseum
Another cool time and place would be Ancient Rome. A lot of things in the server end up being reminders that modern cities are really great in many ways. One big landmark from then is the coliseum. This wouldn’t be as fun as watching Gladiator.

Things seemed to be getting more and more violent and I don’t handle gore well. Time to lighten things up a bit.


Macho Man proposal
The coliseum lives today through sports stadiums. It’d be great to go back in time to buzzer beaters, walk-off home runs, or successful hail marys (maries?). But those are a thousand times better if they’re for teams you root for. Nothing sticks out all that much for teams I root for.

But I’ve definitely rooted for babyfaces in wrestling. And plenty of things stand out. Macho Man proposing to Elizabeth would be a great non-violent palate cleanser.

(Or the Ultimate Warrior returning to help Hulk Hogan. Steve Austin returning to help Mankind would’ve been great too.)


2001 Slam Dunk Contest
Back to sports. I do root for Team USA. The 2008 final against Spain could be cool to see as an entire game. Then I remembered Vince Carter jumped over a guy a few years before that, which would be very very cool to see in person. Then it hit me that the 2001 dunk contest would be great to see from end to end.

I remember watching it live. I remember re-watching it in my dorm room with a few guys on my floor a few years later. And I don’t remember all the individual times I’ve re-watched it in the YouTube spirals after that. I just know I’ve seen it a lot. Seeing it live would be great.

Now I’m realizing I’ve mixed this up a bit. The server in the book lets you watch things like YouTube. It doesn’t let you jump into the place. And I can already watch these modern things on YouTube.

Consider the first three good answers and the wrestling and slam dunk ones answers if we’d be able to have some kind of VR experience of the event.

And of course
You have to see you parents when they were younger, right? There was a Sinbad special I used to watch over and over. One of his bits is reminding us that our parents used to be cool. We’re the ones that made them uncool.

Make, Show, Learn Issue 6

“I’m gonna try something” — Captain Jimmy Wilder

Being mindful of word count worked well last week. Each week, one section goes on much longer than the others.

I’m getting close to abandoning the single-post-each-week format. It often ends up being a hodgepodge of ideas baked to different temperatures. It makes sense to separate some things into their own post. Particularly when it’s about a single book.

A close friend called me on FaceTime earlier this week. I haven’t seen him in a few months. After talking about things that actually mattered, I mentioned that I started drawing. I showed him some of the work things from the last month.

It was good to see some improvement. There are still times when I wonder if this is something to pursue long-term. In the past, I could see myself saying, “Nope! Must not be passionate enough.”

This time, though, I remind myself of the end I have in mind. A year from now I’ll have 40 weekly posts with illustrations and writing. Issue #4 was better than issue #1. Issue #40 will be better than issue #4.

It won’t be fun every single time. It will be worth it every single time.

I had a plan this week. On Monday, I made five separate files (one for each section of the post) in iA Writer. I was going to fill them in, add drawings as I went along, then have a post ready to go. I pull the posts together on the weekend. By Friday, I had five sections filled in, but only one that I liked.

Something else I had was more ideas. I tossed my plan out along  with a few of the sections. I’m separating the one that I liked into a separate post.

I’ll have a varying amount of time to work on each weekly post. I’ll need a system for moving the extra time into weeks where I have no time at all. This upcoming holiday week will be my first test.

I’ve been brainstorming in Notability. It’s one of my favorite things to do. There’s a template I’ve been using that’s a vertical storyboard. Actually, here’s what it looks like:

I’ve been trying to write down the text side and then sketch things out on the left side after that. Here’s a look at some other pages I’ve done.

I wanted to try presenting things like that in a post. On Saturday, I tried things out in HTML/CSS and then converted it to WordPress. Actually, let me do a quick demo.

Images on the left. Text on the right. (One column on mobile.)
I didn’t say it was going to be mindblowing or anything.

In hindsight, I’m frustrated with how long it took to figure this out. The solution was more straightforward than I thought. Sometime in the next few months I need to sit down and learn WordPress.

Doodle from last week’s post
Last week I wrote a description of Joe Rogan talking about motivation always fading with time. The sketches were each done on a five minute timer. Before that, they were even rougher. I scribbled them down the side of one of the storyboard pages in Notability.

The voice in my head is an asshole
Dan Harris says that was one of the working titles for his book, 10% Happier (check out my book notes). It came to mind while reading The Creative’s Curse (blurb below). We say so many things to ourselves that stop us from being creative.

Anyway, that’s the end of the demo. It won’t be the last time you see it. I’ll also keep thinking of other layouts.

What I’m reading: A peek into the echo chamber

Remember, ‘stalagmite’ has a g in it so it’s on the ground. Note to self: use a different color for cave next time.

Last week a lot of us became a little more aware of the echo chambers we’re in. Over the past year I noticed that authors I liked were showing up on a bunch of podcasts I listen to. I’ve made an effort to consume media from more perspectives.

This week’s reading was not the best example of that effort. (Neither is my podcast rotation that’s basically only Joe Rogan, Tim Ferriss, Bill Simmons’s friends, or TADPOG.)

The Creative’s Curse by Todd Brison
I enjoyed The Creative’s Curse. You can get a sense of what the book will be like by reading Brison’s latest blog posts.

I’m guessing people read The War of Art and realize it’s like a collection of blog posts. Steven Pressfield says his nonfiction started as a bunch of separate essays in Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t.

People with their own collection of blog posts eventually try putting something similar together. The Creative’s Curse reminds me of those books, but it’s a hell of a lot better than other self-published eBooks I’ve read.

How to Write Funny by Scott Dikkers
Dikkers was a founding editor of The Onion. At the beginning of the book, he talks about writing about writing comedy.

A lot of people who write books about how to write humor feel a pressure to make the book funny.

The book captures someone very good at comedy trying not to be funny. It’s the exact inverse of my blog.

The One Thing by Gary Keller
I read this a couple years ago. I got the audiobook after hearing it recommended by Charles Poliquin on the Tim Ferriss Show.

For a few months I was using a couple templates from the book to plan my weeks. You take different areas in your life and figure out the one thing that’s most important in that area. Then plan your week to focus on those few things.

It becomes two things: 1.) the most important long term goal and 2.) the immediate task you can do to move toward it.

The challenge is picking both of those. (Check out my post on Angela Duckworth’s Grit to see her exercise for picking top-level and mid-level goals.)

The Systems Mindset by Sam Carpenter (Free eBook)
Last week I wrote about The Checklist Manifesto. The stories were great but it didn’t quite get down to making the checklists. The Systems Mindset does a great job complementing that book.

Carpenter explains that the first step is recognizing that systems are everywhere (that earth/ramen photo from earlier is supposed to be earth with clock internals). There’s an example of the system we have for drying towels. It’s automatic. You don’t ever think about it. You hang it up and never think about it.

When you recognize the systems then you can pick them out and improve the ones that aren’t working. You can then design systems for problems you run into.

What I’m drawing

Instead of commenting on drawings inline, I’ll try separating them into a different section and this section will go at the end. I want to be thoughtful about what I’m drawing each week. That way I’ll have a better way to see progress.

Vince Carter
This is a drawing for next week’s post (though I thought I was going to post it this week).

I took a screenshot of this to get the grid around it. I don’t know how much this is considering cheating and if it’s going to hurt or help my learning.

Even with the grid right in front of me, I needed to remind myself to just trust the grid. Some things didn’t seem right, like his leg seemed like it was too long or the shape of his left calf looked odd. Once it was all together, though, it was alright.

That’s a lesson in trusting what I see and not what I think I see.

The only problem with my drawing of Vince Carter is that it doesn’t look like Vince Carter. I can’t get his face right.

Vince Carter, pt II
I haven’t been coloring things in like I was the first couple weeks. It’s fun. When drawing, there’s a lot of thinking. When inking and coloring I can just go without thinking. I’m using those terms very very loosely because I know what I’m doing is a naive version of the actual inking or coloring process.

No thinking while inking. I can see why adult coloring books are a thing.

See you in a week! In the meantime I’ll be working on fixing his face. While we’re at it, let me color another one.


Make, Show, Learn Issue 5

Welcome to issue 5!

What I’m up to

Welcome to issue 5. Last week went well. I’m slowly finding my voice, but it’s going to take a while.

The end of October ended my ban on tinkering so I did small layout updates and will continue with small updates each weekend. I want to focus on creating enough content to warrant a redesign.

Looking at the rest of the year, I could potentially have 11 issues. If there’s a week to take off it’s going to either be Thanksgiving or Christmas. Ten issues seems like a good time to take a week off, redesign, and promote what I have so far.


Each post is still way too long. 1.) It’s not a great reading experience and 2.) it takes hours to gather passages and drawings from the week to finish the post.

The previous post could have been split up into two or three posts. Eventually I’ll need back up posts for weeks off so I’m going to look for good opportunities to make separate posts. 

This week, I want to see if being mindful of the word count will help the post in any way. I’m shooting for 1250 words. Which is 250 words each day.

At first, that sounds way too short, because I’ve been successful in the past hitting 750 words in a single day. All I need to do is remind myself that those words collectively weren’t very good. 

I also need to remind myself that writing shorter posts is entire point. I write too much so I’ll try to write less.

What I’m shooting: The size of El Capitan

Adding on to last week’s topic of climbing, I’ve been fascinated with the size of El Capitan. A quick search gives answers in gigabytes. Thank you Apple.

Comparing heights, what percent of the Empire State Building do you think El Capitan would be?

Having been to the observation area in the Empire State Building, things looked pretty freaking high.

Couldn’t imagine anyone climbing that high, so when I read the question I guessed 75%.

Depending on if you include the needle or not, El Capitan is 2-3 times higher.

I’ve been taking photos to clearly illustrate the size of The Empire State Building. That way I can unclearly illustrate the size of El Capitan.

What I’m reading: finished a couple

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

It’s been a while since I finished a book in a week. I went into this book with the wrong expectations, which was both good and bad.

I didn’t realize Gawande was a surgeon before starting the book. There are a bunch of surgical operation descriptions. They’re vivid, fascinating, and terrifying. We know a lot about the human body.

The book has me completely sold on the effectiveness of checklists across fields. Great stories sell things.

As for practical steps for making effective checklists in different fields, look elsewhere. I’m pretty interested in reading his books that are entirely about the operating room.

Shut Your Monkey by Danny Gregory

I mentioned this book last week and finished it this week. At the end of the book, Gregory recommends Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. Pressfield wrote three books centered around a concept called The Resistance, which is a close cousin of Gregory’s monkey.

In Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t, Pressfield says his nonfiction books started as piles of writing that he would hand to his editor. His editor would re-pile them to tell a better story for a first draft.

Shut Your Monkey is similarly 1-2 page chapters. Gregory says the book came together a thought at a time and he likens it to building a mountain one spoonful at a time.

Going the other way, he talks about breaking big things into pieces.

How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time.

I originally heard it as “How do you eat an elephant?” I imagine it’s pretty popular with different animals

A few months ago, I started seeing authors I liked showed up on multiple podcasts I listen to. It made me very conscious of one echo chamber I’m in. I’m guessing I’m in many more. 

To step out, I’ve been trying to read and listen to people writing and speaking from (at least slightly) different perspectives.
Joe Rogan provides a point of view that I don’t have with people I’m around day to day. He talks about the importance of friends with perspectives that don’t match your own. 

I wanted to see what Rogan thought about Tony Robbins. He mentions him in episode 846 with Michael Shermer. He thinks Robbins does a very good thing by giving people positive motivation. At the same time, he wonders what Robbins has done other than motivate people.

Rogan’s personal experience with motivation and things like that is that he’s been there. He knows what it’s like to go to a seminar or read a book and be completely inspired or motivated for a week. 

You’re ready to take on the world. You wake up at 5:30 and do the road work for two weeks. Now you’re ready to take on a different route.

On that route, you get to 6 am and the light flickers on.

Hot, fresh donuts. Maybe you resist it in the morning. Maybe the entire day. But the next day? Week 3? Week 4? The inspiration fades as temptation rises.

Motivation and inspiration are temporary. Self development is an industry for a reason.

Rogan says it’s too easy to slide back into your old ways. They’re comfortable. You can’t turn your decades old ship around in a day. You need that inspiration and motivation every day for years.

The internet makes it more more available now than it ever was. (Maybe too available.) There are videos, articles, books, podcasts, webinars, live streams, online courses, and more.

I was reading Julian Shapiro’ guide to building muscle and there’s a section on motivation with this video embedded: How Bad Do You Want It?

It’s got 39 million views and I’m guessing 50 of them are from me over the past few years. Based on my double blind study, 1000% of people who watch this the first time work out the very same day.

On the 100th view, you no longer want to run through a wall. Variety helps with motivation. Different stories with the same takeaways can inspire you at different times.

Inspiration from Shut Your Monkey is still pretty fresh. In a week or two it’ll begin fading. In a month or two I’ll only remember the core lesson: create things, finish them, and create more things.

It’s the only way to fight the monkey. 

What I’m listening to: TADPOG (Tyler and Dave Play Old Games)
I’m strangely addicted to TADPOG. Each podcast episode is a little over an hour. Each is centered around a specific game but a lot is random banter and returning segments: quizzes, reading from Wikipedia, voicemails. 

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been putting it on in the background like some people put regular season baseball on. Lately I’ve been a lot more interested in very long podcasts like this one. It’s easy to put something on and let my focus go in and out.   

Some of their listeners describe it as hanging out with friends. Tyler and Dave don’t quite remind me of any friends. I just enjoy their humor. It reminds me of the internet in the late 90s and early 2000s.

Some of the jokes are very very specific. When you understand the obscure reference it hits in just the right way. They were talking about Streets of Rage and how things flash on the ground and if you drop the item a couple times it flashes and disappears.

One of them talks about if that happened in real our iPhones would be long gone.

The best thing is the game discussion. They call out all the ridiculous things in old games. Like conveyor belt stages in beat em ups.

Tyler and Dave aren’t over-the-top like a lot of other retro game personalities. (Who always seem to be angry.)

Anytime they talk about experiences with video games growing up, nostalgia takes over. Like sitting in school zoning out thinking about coming home to play a new game.

Here are some episodes I’ve listened to:

What I’m drawing

I’ll send you off with some drawings from this week. This week I didn’t draw as much as I would’ve wanted. Next week I’ll get back to applying lessons from Keys to Drawing.

This starts with a couple Chrono Trigger characters before going off into random territory. 

(Through TADPOG, I learned about the connection between Chrono and the main character from Secret of Mana. I couldn’t believe I never noticed the resemblance.)

See you in a week!

Make, Show, Learn Issue 4: Speaking of faces

Welcome to issue 4! As always, I’ll be trying new things. October was supposed to be my tinker-free month so I’m doing a few layout updates today.

More and more this seems like this is becoming a way to share what I’ve been reading, listening to, and watching. With drawings related to those things. I’ll be more explicit about that format here. But first, a few inches that will likely affect issues to come.

What I’m up to

I exchanged my 9.7″ iPad Pro for the larger one. This was a little impulsive, done a couple days after seeing someone with the big one at a conference then another person with the big one at Smorgasburg.

Of course, the main reason to upgrade was for drawing. The 9.7″ sometimes felt cramped when any UI elements were on screen. Now that I’ve experienced the 13.1″, it’s like I didn’t know just how cramped I felt. There’s so much more room to breathe.

As for other things, the writing experience is better. The 13.1″ Smart Keyboard is way better to type on than 9.7″ keyboards—I tired both the Smart Keyboard and Logitech’s Create.

The larger device is great for creating content but consuming content is worse. Sometimes you get a mobile site that doesn’t scale to this large a screen. Depending on type settings, Kindle books look like science journal PDFs or books teaching kids how to read. (Though landscape with two pages displayed is actually pretty nice.)

What I’m reading: Create, create, create

So what have I been reading in this giant Kindle view?

Keys to Drawing by Bert Dodson

Continuing reading this and working through the exercises. Last week was focused on measuring properly and I’m still practicing that a lot. This week there’s been more on fundamental shapes and shadows.

Show and Tell by Dan Roam

Roam writes a lot about using drawing in a business setting. This is about storytelling to put presentations together. I’ll probably check out some of his other books about  sketching ideas.

Create or Hate by Dan Norris

A nice, easy read providing the right kick-in-the butt to go make something. Hate is the force that keeps people from creating things. It’s similar to The Resistance from Steven Pressfield’s books.

Shut Your Monkey by Danny Gregory

The Resistance and Hate are aggressive forces actively working to stop you from creating. Gregory talks about overcoming The Monkey. It’s a more lighthearted enemy but it stops you from creating all the same.

Word of the day: anthropomorphism. That’s also the title of my future post talking about the various enemies of creativity.

What I’m watching: Free solo

A friend visited New York a couple weeks ago with his girlfriend. Talking to them about climbing (they climb, I don’t) led to me watching some climbing videos. The one video to watch is his appearance on 60 Minutes: The Ascent of Alex Honnold

I checked my main reference source, the Joe Rogan Experience, and found an Alex Honnold interview.

Rogan asks him about being scared of what might happen if he falls from so high up. After about 90 feet, the result of falling would be the same. You’ll explode like a water balloon at 500 feet the same way you would at 1000 feet. What you don’t want is to fall below 90 feet, break all your bones and bleed out.


As I reattached my carabiner to my keys and shifted my learning aspirations from free-soloing back to drawing, I thought about how this lesson could be abstracted. If the consequences are the same at a certain threshold, go as big as possible?

Maybe climbing thousand foot rock faces shouldn’t be compared to drawing.

Speaking of faces. Actually, hold that thought. Let’s talk bodies.

I’m still working through Keys to Drawing and I recently read a section about the foundational shapes:

Even the human figure can be seen as a series of cylinders.

I tried applying this by drawing Alex Honnold

And again in a different position.

Thinking this way was really helpful. It’s a lot easier to visualize two cylinders connecting than it is to think about arm anatomy.

Speaking of faces! I’ve continued with trying to draw faces. I tried drawing without reference photos.

I’m getting better at drawing eye shapes when the face isn’t facing directly forward. At least relative to my life to this point where I thought it was impossible. To draw a face, first you draw an egg.

I’m always amazed that programming allows you to create so much by writing and combining text files. You can build a world.

Now I’m appreciating something similar with drawing. These faces aren’t great, they don’t have stories, and they aren’t particulary interesting. But they came from my head. Now they exist in this virtual sketchbook.

What I’m listening to: DHH on the Tim Ferriss Show

SNFPTAM: a sketched edition!
I’ll continue thinking of pronounceable abbreviations for show notes for podcasts that aren’t mine. I start probably every fifth sentence in conversation with “I heard this on a podcast…” I may as well write notes for them. It gives me something to write about.

We can’t multitask like we’d hope. It’s usually just rapid context switching. If there’s something I can do that looks like the idea of multitasking, it’s listening to a podcast while drawing something about what I’m hearing.

Speaking of faces! Here’s David Heinemeier Hansson, who you might know better as DHH.

He’s a co-founder of Basecamp and a proponent of work-life balance. Some things in work are critical, but so much can wait.

DHH recently appeared on the Tim Ferriss Show. They went for three and a half hours—long even for a Tim Ferriss podcast. As you can imagine, they covered a lot of topics. Here’s a drawing of Tim Ferriss from issue 1. (And a guest appearance from a Seattle legend.)

In the context of startup founders, they discuss goals sometimes being out of line with the journey to get there. Out of line is an understatement. Startup founders compress (aka nearly exhaust themselves to death) for 7-10 years.

All to possibly hit the jackpot and a vision of relaxation and rest and escaping the rat race. Then they go sit on a beach for a couple weeks and it’s not for them. So they start another company and, since luck is involved, they aren’t as successful. It’s not the best formula for happiness.

Well, it’s not quite happiness

In talking about happiness, DHH says tranquility might be key. He wrote about this in The Day I Became a Millionaire’:

If anything, I began to appreciate even more intently that flow and tranquility were the true sources of happiness for me all along. It was like I had pulled back the curtain on that millionaire’s dream and found, to my surprise, that most of the things on the other side were things I already had.

If you don’t have things that make you happy now, a bunch of money might not change that. (Assuming you can afford to eat and have a roof.) Ferriss talks about practicing being rich.

If you want to be good and hope to enjoy all these things and have fun when you have money, you have to practice these things before you have money.

Stone Cold Steve Austin is one of the most successful wrestlers ever. He was his real life persona with the volume cranked to 110%. You can get this amplification without being a pro wrestler.

Ferriss points out that one way is through alcohol and that money works similiarly. You’ve gotta be ready for it. Thinking through what you would do with a lot of money is a good step to finding tranquility without becoming a millionaire.

People love things they usually have some access to without money. If can’t afford to travel freely, you might have access to some aspects of traveling. Try a new restaurant. Check out an unexplored part of your city.

This made me think: If money weren’t an issue, what would I do? Spend as much time with family, my girlfriend, and friends as possible. Which also means traveling. In my alone time I’d blog about how drawing on my yacht being wobbly but enjoyable.


Mark Cuban hit the jackpot like many others during the dot com boom. Unlike many others, he stayed rich through diversification.

DHH suggests being mindful about diversifying your interests. If programming were his only interest and it was taken away, he might feel empty. But it’s not. If you took programming away from DHH, he’s still got his family, race car driving, and photography.

He’d rather go 80/20 in his interests to become very good at a few things instead of giving it 100 for a chance to be the best at one thing. He compares it to NBA players. You can live a good life as a mid-tier NBA player or you can have a completely awful chance at being Michael Jordan.

What this completely awful drawing of Michael Jordan represents is expectation. If my goal was to be the Michael Jordan of drawing Michael Jordan, clearly I’d be forever unhappy.

If we change the expectation from being a good Michael Jordan drawing to being a bad drawing of someone else, let’s see what we can do.

We’ll start with Kama, a wrestler whose gimmick was being a shoot fighter. Which is like being his persona with the volume turned to 7.

(Kama found extreme success a few years later with a different gimmick. As a pimp. I don’t know what lesson to pull from that.)

Why Kama? Well, we want to take MJ’s rings and melt them down, like Kama did to the Undertaker’s urn to make them into a chain.

Anyway, let’s melt down some of those rings:

Then throw that chain on.

And that’s how you draw Gucci Mane.

It’s always your fault

Startup success requires some amount of good luck. Though there’s the idea that you make your own luck and prepare yourself for opportunities. On the other hand, it’s important to then also accept there isn’t bad luck. You need to take responsibility for things that go wrong.

DHH says you can’t just stop at attributing things to bad luck. Something caused it. A lack of preparation often looks like back luck. DHH and Ferriss discuss stoic principles and Tim brings up a very important question.

How are you complicit in creating the conditions you say you don’t want?

This really stuck with me and I’m sharing it here partially to remind myself of it in the future.

What I’m coloring

DHH talks about letting kids binge on candy or letting them use an iPad for an entire day. They’ll learn firsthand why it’s not the best idea to overdo things. I’ve been on this iPad for most of the day now and am learning that same lesson.

Here’s a colored version of the bike — see you in a week!

Make, Show, Learn Issue 3

Three years from now if I looked back and thought about what I learned over the last three years, is this what I want to be doing? — Me, naval gazing

Welcome to week three! I’ll continue with these dispatches. Blogging about blogging. My lesson from week one was twelve topics was too many. Even with five, the post got way too long. No idea is good enough to save for some better day. If my writing and drawing improve to a point that I’d be able to tell a shockingly improved story with the same raw material, well, I’ll just re-tell it.

Right now I’m still working a little haphazardly. I have notes in, Notability, Procreate, Google Docs, probably strips of post its.

The final form is a WordPress post. But the bulk of writing and editing is in Google Docs. Editing in WordPress is mostly fixing typos.

This week’s big takeaway: It starts with words.

Last week, I mentioned that I bought three DC Comics Guide to… books. This week I’ve been reading through them. I don’t plans to make a comic, but the deepest stories told through images and text are probably in comics. Each of the DC Comics Guides has some reminder that that comics start with words. Art is based on the script.

I finished reading The DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics. A lot of it details using Photoshop to create comics. I enjoyed this image of some wireframing of text.


I also enjoyed some of the career advice in The DC Comics Guide to Pencilling Comics:

You may be multitalented, but it’s important to keep your portfolio simple and direct. If you feel that you want to be a penciller, inker, and colorist, you may certainly present a portfolio that showcases all of those skills.

I’m trying a lot of different things on this blog. And I’m at the opposite end where I’m multi-not-good-at-this-yet. Eventually I’ll pick a style to focus on. I’ve still got a years-long road of learning fundamentals.

Speaking of…

This week I learned

I’ve continued reading through Keys to Drawing to keep learning. The main lesson from this week has been measuring midpoints and estimating sizes. Dodson describes drawing a small thing in the middle of a giant page or drawing a person and cutting their shins in half to fit the feet on the page.With practice, this is preventable. To start with, you can measure things by holding your pencil (or

Pencil) out in front of you. The midpoint acts as a great reference for drawing other parts of whatever you’re drawing. I’ve been trying it. This is one of those things you can just always keep improving.

Evaluating your own work: Until I have an audience giving feedback (it might be a while), I’ll just need to get better at evaluating my own work. This early on it’s easy to critique fundamentals. Sizes are pretty objective. Especially if I make sure to take pictures of things or share the reference photos. Here’s a venti iced coconut milk latte. It’s borderline for max number of syllables I like to order.


The straw is way huger than I estimated. You’d think I drew this before the lesson because everything is so off.


This guy in lotus position is better measured.


I have that Dr. Strange drawing (that my brother said looks like Khal Goro) and have drawn it a couple times. It struck me that I’m just copying. Which is fine for learning. Eventually I want to draw things from my imagination. I’ll storyboard this and hopefully be able to have the camera rotate around him over a couple panels and then have him stand up. It might be good to draw this sequence once a month to track my progress. Here’s my first go at it.


A few thoughts on audiobooks

This year I’ve been trying to read one book each week. I don’t count audiobooks, but I do listen to them. They digest differently. It never feels like I’ve quite read the book. Listening can be a passive activity. The first listen is never quite as satisfying as the first read.

Podcasts are great for this because they’re so rough. A lot of them are free flowing conversations. People don’t make their points quickly. Usually this is bad, but if you’re not paying full attention then it’s fine to miss some things and just listen to the rest.

Audiobooks are books first. Authors have taken time to revise and edit over and over. They think about economy of words. If you zone out for a minute or two, you may have missed key information.In fiction, given enough time, I didn’t know what was going on at all. I tried listening to fiction audiobooks and that’s when I realized my attention goes in and out. It might be better suited for a driving commute. Not walking.

I stick to nonfiction. Sometimes I rewind chapters, but often I just let it run. The key is knowing I’ll listen to an audiobook way more times than I would re-read a book. In the end, multiple listens might be better for retaining information than reading deeply through it once.

A couple books I’m listening to

The two audiobooks currently in rotation have depictions of brains on the cover. One is made by very long computer cables. The other is made of broccoli.


The books are Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions and Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain–for Life. I’ll be sure to write up some notes for each. After a few more listens, of course.

Some miscellaneous drawings

I also just drew a lot in Starbucks this week. And on planes because I was traveling. I’m going to save it for next week. This week’s motto will be There’s always next week. No need to press right now.

Make, Show, Learn Issue 2

From The DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics:

But I encourage you to zoom out (by going to View > Fit on Screen) every once in a while just to make sure you aren’t getting stress out over an area no one will notice. — Freddie Williams II

That’s my preview of issue 17: Life advice from drawing books. In the meantime, welcome to issue 2!



I wrote 100 posts in 100 days (and will probably mention it 1000 times in the next 100 days). Quality varied way too much but it was good seeing the amount of content at the end. Writing daily adds up.

I made some sacrifices to make it happen. (If I was a better writer, I’d have a lighter word than sacrifice.) I said no to some social events. I skipped workouts.


Was it worth it? Well…

Yes. To learn from. I followed a routine and got a tiny taste of what people mean when they say they can’t wait around for inspiration to write.

And no. Those things I sacrificed are important. Long term, my relationships and my body are more important than this hobby.

Nutrition and fitness advice often revolves around making it a lifestyle change. Otherwise you’ll just try yo-yo diet after yo-yo diet. It needs to be sustainable.

However, it’s useful to go to one extreme for a short period of time, like eating completely clean temporarily. You can then re-introduce foods and see if the costs are worth it. You can figure out the 80/20 and adapt the most effective aspects long-term.

Oh yeah, this is about writing. I want this creative project to be sustainable. I don’t want to lose sleep and take small steps in the wrong direction. Those add up over time just like writing one page a day adds up.

One step at a time toward 40 issues

So how can I make things sustainable? High level, my goal is 40 episodes and issues instead of 52. That gives me some breathing room. One week off each month.

I won’t get to 52 in a year. Not without sacrificing things that are more important to me in the long run.

If I was new to a site and clicked “archive” and saw 40 posts or 52 posts, they’re basically the same. It’s like if an ebook is $4 or $5.

What it does affect is consistency. As long as I don’t take two or three weeks off in a row, the consistency will be there. It’s much better than pushing to do 13 weeks in a row, then quitting entirely because I’m burned out.

I can make up for it with consistency in other channels. Those are hypothetical right now. It’ll probably be instagram. On weeks off, I can put the growth hacker hat on. “I won’t be here this week but follow me on Instagram!” That was supposed to be a joke but I can really see that happening.

5 sections a week. Well, maybe

Zooming in a bit, what can I finish in a week? A lot is learning how long things take. Last week’s issue was too long. Both in the time it took to make and just the length of the post.

I’m kissing the weekly dozen goodbye. This week I’m trying 5 sections.

When learning something new, it can be useful to apply concepts from fields you’re more familiar with. I’m learning to draw, so maybe there’s a good way to apply product design or software development concepts to all this.

Design sprints come to mind. Each issue of this has some design elements. Drawing is already a core part of design sprints. In sprints, different kinds of sketches are usually timed. Actually, nearly everything in the sprint is timed.

From Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days:

We use Time Timers in our sprints to mark small chunks of time, anywhere from three minutes to one hour. These tiny deadlines give everyone an added sense of focus and urgency.

I’ll start timing things as I work on my process on each of these issues. If I can get an accurate time of things then I can set a timer, do that thing, and move on.

Avoiding the shallows

I’ve mentioned a few times that I want to try doing an entire issue—drawings and writing both—focused on single themes or topics. If it’s going to be about a book, Cal Newport’s Deep Work is at the top of the list.

The illustration above is a colored-in version of a sketch I found from earlier this year. I had an idea for a former version of this blog where each post would be a long-form book notes post.

It became another unfinished project.

The shark illustration is supposed to represent the idea of getting lost in the shallows. Deep work involves long stretches of focused time. The shallows are the opposite. Sometimes they involve work—glancing at email, bouncing around between 3 somewhat related tasks and making slow progress on all of them. Usually it’s not work related at all. Social media, texting friends, cycling through news sites.

Eventually, I’d like to sit down and finish that book notes post, because Deep Work has been a major influence for me this year.

Keys to Drawing

Deep work has a close cousin: deliberate practice. They both require the same sort of focus. I’m thinking a lot about how I can apply deliberate practice in learning to draw.

Anders Ericsson knows a lot about deliberate practice and shares a lot of the knowledge in Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise:

If you’re in a field where deliberate practice is an option, you should take that option. If not, apply the principles of deliberate practice as much as possible. In practice this often boils down to purposeful practice with a few extra steps: first, identify the expert performers, then figure out what they do that makes them so good, then come up with training techniques that allow you to do it, too.

I don’t have a mentor to watch me draw right now. Tough luck, right? Maybe not.

This is where I might be able to really leverage technology. Recording and sharing my process is possible. You can watch me practice. I can hypothetically get feedback on that practice. First I’ll need readers and I’ll need to make interesting things.

I’ll work toward building an audience of people more skilled than I am that can give frequent feedback. That would be amazing.

In the meantime, I’ll find guidance from experts in the form of books. I’m currently working through Keys to Drawing by Bert Dodson. He explains different drawing techniques and provides exercises and suggestions for how much time to spend on them.

This week’s video portion is a look at an exercise of my own.

It’s inspired by something Simon Rich does to generate ideas:

When I was writing Free Range Chickens, I had just discovered Wikipedia and one of the ways I came up with ideas was to just keep refreshing, and keep clicking the random article until a premise occurred to me.

So I just set a timer to do three 5-minute intervals. At the start of each interval, I jam Wikipedia’s random button until a decent image showed up. Then I drew the subject with the remaining time.

Random images keep me from drawing the 17th plastic coffee cup of the week. It was a lot of fun. And it takes a set amount of time. This might become the first recurring feature of every issue.

DC Comics

Last week, I wrote about learning to create narrated images for each week’s video. Somehow comics never came to mind. But they moved to the front burner this week. When I drew as a kid, a lot of it was just trying to draw either comic characters or video game characters.

I bought a bunch of DC Comics books about making comics:

Having skimmed through these, here’s the main takeaway: I still need to learn to draw first. I’ll keep working through traditional drawing books.


However, comics provide a style I’m interested in learning. Comics shine in a particular way when it comes to learning.

Comic artists show their work. Many artists do signings and drawings at conventions and things. A lot of times, they’re happy to let people record over-the-shoulder videos showing their process. These are available on YouTube.

Artists also often share their own process videos on social media accounts. There just seems to be an endless amount of videos of experts at work. A lot of their thoughts end up visible on the page. You can see things progress from very rough lines to final prints. It’s a resource that doesn’t exist for every craft.

You could time-lapse a writer writing and typing, but it’s not the same. You’d need to see drafts with revision notes to get any real insight. You might be able to find some of this for authors you like. But they don’t sit at conventions writing one-page stories for people to watch and learn from.

I knew a little bit when I started this project. Two weeks later, I have a better idea of how little I know. Hopefully 50 weeks later, this will provide a deep look at my learning process.

In the meantime, I’ll be looking for another plastic cup to sketch. This time with cross-hatching!