I post a lot of the books I read on Instagram because I like to look back and remember what I read. It’s neat for me to see the photos on either side of the book pics. They give a bit of a biographical context to what I might have been doing while I read that particular book. I know what book I read immediately before and after.
I find the order books are read can have a very strong influence on how they are digested. When I read a few books in a row on the same subject, I find that the connections between the books’ ideas can really start to pop.
I’ve read three books recently about the process of building concentration and mastering things. Mastery by Robert Greene and Deep Work by Cal Newport both go over a lot of the same territory. Working on your concentration is a necessary condition to be a master. The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle gives some of the biological information about what’s going on in your brain while you learn to do something that takes concentration.
All three of these books together have reinforced some ideas I’ve already had about what I’m going to have to do to take my writing to the next level. Social media and other lowest common denominator entertainments are going to have to go. It’s definitely going to be screens off in favor of reading in the evening.
It’s not all gruesome monasticism, though. I have to get out in the world and do things. Talk to strangers. Hang out with old friends. Learn to do things. This is explicitly recommended in the creative self help book, The Artist’s Way. I’ve written about that book a million times, but I’ll give a quick recap. It’s a twelve week program for creative people to get back into being creative. There are basically just two things you have to do: write three hand written pages every morning and take yourself out to do something cool once a week.
I haven’t been doing the three hand written pages because I’ve been writing this blog. I think that may be a mistake. There’s just something different about scribbling away in a notebook where no one will ever see it. The writing I do in my notebooks is actually never very good, but the ideas I explore are a little weirder and rawer. I’m going to try adding them back in and doing the blog posts. It’ll be sort of like a bodybuilding splits two-a-day.
I’ve actually been thinking about my writing in the context of physical training lately. The information I take into my mind is my mental diet. Just like you’d want to remove junk food from your diet, it’s good to remove junk info from your mind. There are so many world class books to read, there is no excuse at all to burn life up reading shit.
My writing needs to get pushed as well. My new deadline is one horror short story finished per month. I don’t have a length requirement, but I imagine I’d want at least three pages. Having deadlines is very helpful. I’m not sure what my plan for them will be. I guess I could post them once a month on this blog. Maybe on the last day of the month.
Anway, that’s not what’s important. What’s important is to get better and that’s just not going to happen if I’m just lazily blogging. I mean, you just read this shit. What the hell? That was pure garbage. Who’s in charge around here?