Issue № 74

Do not hoard ideas

Holding on to a lot of ideas takes a great deal of time and energy. If, like me, you’re a systems person you can make things much worse. I can build personal knowledge systemsslipboxes, databases, custom software and bend all sorts of technology into new shapes. It turns out—as I hope you’ve already guessed—that if you have too many ideas, and then build and deploy a bunch of clever tools and systems, you just end up with even more ideas. (There isn’t quite an XKCD for that, but number 927 is close.)

One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water.

~ Annie Dillard from,

Building tools and systems is also a terrific way to hide. It’s a variation of the old idea that I cannot start on the real work until I get all this other stuff organized and cleaned up and set up and just so.

Instead, I’m so much happier if I simply take something that brings me joy, and share it.


In the blink of an eye, something happens by chance—when you least expect it—sets you on a course that you never planned, into a future you never imagined.

~ Nicholas Sparks

A package deal

I often find myself drawn into looking at what other creatives are looking at; I find interest in that second degree of separation. I may be interested in a particular creative person, but only if I’m interested in their specific work. But nearly every creative person I encounter, I’m always asking (literally, or in my internal dialog): Where did they get that idea? What were the inspirations that led to that_composition. I suppose that’s right next to being interested in the creative process itself—but that’s not quite it. I don’t really want to know _how they do what they do. I want to know who they are, and why they do what they do.

The key thing is that unique minds have to be accepted as a full package, because the things they do well and that we admire cannot be separated from the things we wouldn’t want for ourselves or look down upon.

~ Morgan Housel from,

I think it was Homer (Simpson, I mean) who said, just because you are unique, doesn’t mean you are useful. That too harsh by half. It’s not necessary that one be useful (but it’s nice if you want to be able to say, buy food or put a roof over your head.) I want to push back against ‘ol Homer there and amend that to be: Just because you are unique, doesn’t mean people will understand you.


Good conversation mixes opinions, feelings, facts and ideas in an improvisational exchange with one or more individuals in an atmosphere of good will. It inspires mutual insight, respect and, most of all joy. It is a way of relaxing the mind, opening the heart and connecting, authentically, with others To converse well is surprising, humanizing and fun.

~ Paula Marantz Cohen

Connecting and respecting

The idea of narrowing the number of people we’re intending to serve with our creative efforts is freeing. Kevin Kelly‘s 1000 True Fans is liberating in the sense that it frees us from having to imagine: How am I supposed to create something that excites and engages with millions of people. But even “just” those 1,000 fans is a daunting group to imagine.

It turns out that finding, connecting and respecting a small group of supporters and customers always outperforms the hustle for more. And that if you can create a remarkable story that’s worth spreading, it’ll spread. Not because you need it to, but because your customers do.

~ Seth Godin from,

Unfortunately, I’ve not yet found my people. Yes, certainly, people tell me they love what I create—but I’ve not yet found something that goes beyond being interesting to people. I’ve not yet found something that solves a problem for them… Excites them to action… Enables them to create something of their own…


If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; That is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

~ Henry David Thoreau


I could do a lot worse than sitting staring at trees. We know they’re alive, and yet they’re so still.

Trees are the longest-living life form we know, and manifest their temporal and geographic histories within their very bodies. In both form and function, trees tell the stories of their individual past, which is intimately connected to the history of their microenvironments as well as that of the planet. This distinctive and intimate relation between trees and their temporal and geographic histories is what we call the ‘embodied history of trees’.

~ Dalia Nassar from,

“You must understand, young Hobbit, it takes a long time to say anything in Old Entish. And we never say anything unless it is worth taking a long time to say.” ~ JRR Tolkien

Until next time, thanks for reading.



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