Archive for the 'Zen' Category

LIMITATIONS AND BOUNDARIES ARE LIBERATING…

January 7th, 2017

I think that if my possibilities are limitless then I’m less likely to do what I want to do: if I can do anything, then I’m likely to do nothing. One example I sometimes use with my students is to suggest that when writing poetry, constraints—certain meters or form such as the Sonnet or the […]

SO, WHAT IF WILLPOWER ISN’T REALLY A THING…?

January 7th, 2017

Six years ago I lost 80 pounds, dropping from an obese 265 pounds to my high school weight of 185 pounds in about six months. I accomplished the feat principally by eliminating junk and fast foods from my diet. I kept the weight off for more than four years, but over the past two years […]

TO SLEEP, PERCHANCE TO DREAM GET SOME REST…

December 30th, 2016

I can’t recall the last time I got a restful eight hours of sleep. If I get a solid six hours I’m ecstatic because most nights I hit five, maybe five-and-a-half hours and can then choose to either stare at the ceiling or get up and write. By mid-morning I’m drowsy and need a nap. […]

WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK, SUCCESS…

December 16th, 2016

Cal Newport hammers at this concept—what matters is doing the work, lots and lots of the work—again and again. There can be no magic formula or genie in the bottle that can ever substitute for doing the work. Oliver Burkeman—back from maternity leave (congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Burkeman)—writing in Are you too old to find […]

BOOKS AS FESTERING WOUNDS TO BE LANCED…

December 11th, 2016

One of the aspects of The Guardian’s My Writing Day series that I appreciate most is that some writers, like Sarah Perry, are honest about being horrible unproductive, of procrastinating, of flat out fucking off instead of writing. Writers need to know that we’re not all writing dynamos like Stephen King or Joyce Carol Oates […]

EMBRACING THE JOY OF MISSING OUT…

December 9th, 2016

So, I’ve had this mantra for a few decades: So many books, so little time. That fits with my fantasy that if there could be such reality as a Faustian deal, I would take the deal in a heart beat with the demand that I live until I no longer found books I wished to […]

THE WISDOM OF TAKING A SYSTEMS APPROACH…

December 2nd, 2016

I read Scott Adam’s How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big when the book came out in 2014 and I thought the central thesis of the book: approach life as a system as opposed to a set of goals—made sense. So too, I now learn, did Oliver Burkeman who, writing in Want […]

ANNDDD… I’M BACK…

November 25th, 2016

As promised, I’m back from a mini-retreat from the news, but over the course of the last 16 days a lot of news was published and guess what? My world didn’t collapse. So I’ve decided to ease my way back in over the balance of 2016 and decide, probably somewhere short of my previous deep […]

TAKING A MUCH NEEDED BREAK FROM THE NEWS…

November 24th, 2016

Between now and the morning of 25 November, I’ll be taking a news break. I’ve removed all of my usual news-source links from my blogroll and I won’t be listening to the radio in my car. The only story I intend to follow will be events surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline and I’ll be doing […]

EVERY TIME I THINK OF GOING BACK ON TWITTER…

November 24th, 2016

So, you know I ditched both Twitter and Facebook more than three years ago, but occasionally I think about returning. Thankfully, on this Thanksgiving, someone writes a post or an article reinforcing my position that all social media (not just Twitter and Facebook) are addictive time sucks designed to be addictive time sucks and, like […]

THIS COLUMN POST WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE…

November 23rd, 2016

So, I’ve been a devotee of Julia Cameron’s morning pages from her 1992 book, The Artist’s Way, since the mid-90s when I began writing my first (yet unpublished) novel Cold Silence. My morning writing routine consisted of: Step 1—complete my morning pages, Step 2—read a Lawrence Block article from his collections of Writing Fiction columns […]

GODZILLA—DR. ROBERT CIALDINI—EMERGES…

November 22nd, 2016

So, about two years ago Oliver Burkeman wrote in This column will change your life: false reasons for The Guardian, about how people convince us to elect them to public office. That column now, in retrospect, seems a template for the past 15 months. Everyone knows politics is a cynical game: to last a week […]

DON’T WAVE THE CARROT; LIGHT THE FIRE…!

November 18th, 2016

I first came across Alfie Kohn’s work fifteen years, or so, ago when I read Punished By Rewards. The basic idea is that punishment and rewards are equally bad for a student’s education because the central message of both tactics is that the task at hand really sucks and that no one in their right […]

OUT OF SORTS…? MISE EN PLACE…!

November 12th, 2016

Over the course of my life I have found that when I feel out of sorts the reason lies in the chaos or clutter in my surroundings. If I want to be focused and deliberate then I have to ensure that my place is focused and deliberate. This is the lesson of Mise En Place, […]

I REALLY LIKE THIS: COMFORT IN, DUMP OUT

November 10th, 2016

I once lost a job opportunity in my 20s because, I believe, I didn’t know what to say when I learned of someone’s potential tragedy. I simply didn’t know what to say. How do you respond when you learn (as I did this morning) of a death? What words are right when someone you know […]

MY PLAN FOR 9-24 NOVEMBER: (NEARLY) NO NEWS…

November 5th, 2016

For the 16 days running from Wednesday, 9 November to Friday, 25 November, I have a plan. With a single exception—events in and around the Dakota Access Pipe Line (I’ve set up a Google alert for this purpose)—I’m not going to read any news. Full stop. I’m also not going to write any news here […]

THE VERY REAL DANGERS OF PRECRASTIONATION…

October 28th, 2016

I’ve been told that I’m a Johnny On The Spot kind of guy. When presented with a task that I can deal with in less than five minutes, I do the task. I even have a phrase for such tasks on my Daily Action lists: Two-Minute Drills. (No, I’m not a football fan, I just […]

AM I, ARE YOU, A PEACH OR A COCONUT…?

October 22nd, 2016

We all want to grossly oversimplify and bifurcate our world into dichotomies, into black and white. There are, of course two kinds of people, those who embrace the aforementioned and those, wiser, people who think that is pure rubbish. Like determining if a person is a peach or a coconut. Oliver Burkeman, writing in Are […]

WHEN BAD PEOPLE GIVE GOOD ADVICE…

October 11th, 2016

I own a copy of Richard Bach’s Illusions and while I wouldn’t call the book life-altering, I did learn a bit of wisdom from what Bach had to share. That was why when I read Oliver Burkeman’s Good advice from bad people this morning I was pleased to read him quote Bach: You teach best […]

WELL, THE RED QUEEN NEVER PROCRASTINATED…

October 8th, 2016

My first-draft mantra is I’m OK when the writing sucks. No one ever wrote a perfect first draft. Hell, no one ever wrote a perfect 10th, 100th or 1,000th draft. The work gets better with ever pass, but at some point you have allow the editor to pry the manuscript from your fingers. I once […]

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