Still Working on Trains

Ever since moving to the island, my travel times within Germany have vastly expanded. Living close to the Danish border, even a simple trip to Hamburg will take about four hours. Four hours with no wi-fi, bad cellphone coverage and little distractions in a beautiful, but flat and repetitive landscape: The perfect place to get some work done.

Some day, I’d like to get my own railcar, just like the millionaires featured in this piece. Austin Kleon is right with his assessment: “Most of the time I think money is wasted on dumb rich people, but at least this is interesting.” Certainly more interesting than buying yet another mansion!

“In the face of the increasingly materialist and pragmatic orientation of our age … it would not be eccentric in future to contemplate a society in which those who live for the pleasures of the mind will no longer have the right to demand their place in the sun. The writer, the thinker, the dreamer, the poet, the metaphysician, the observer … he who tries to solve a riddle or to pass judgement will become an anachronistic figure, destined to disappear from the face of the earth like the ichthyosaur and the mammoth.”

– Giorgio de Chirico1

  1. From a footnote of this inspiring talk/essay by Jenny Odell that deserves a blog post on its own, but should be read by you in the meantime, anyway. You can tell I liked it by the fact that I even made it through the footnotes. []

“Life gets bigger, with grand adventures, and achievements, and meeting important people, and acquiring new skills and talents, and accumulating resources and fancy possessions. But bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. If your life gets bigger, but veers away from your values and essential nature, you’re stuck with the wrong life, and you have to reboot the whole system.”

J.D. Moyer

Sunrise in the Mists

Writing a Book on the Side

Excellent (2010) piece by Michael Lopp on writing a book on the side:

„Writing is a game of inches. No author I know sits down every morning in their home office and steadily produces three pages a day. I’m sure they’re out there, but these annoyingly efficient and profitable authors aren’t doing this on the side.“

So true. When I wrote my two short books, I would sometimes write an entire chapter in one afternoon and sometimes spend an entire day straightening out a single sentence. In general, what really helped me were friendly kicks in the butt by my coach and friend Jonathan. Knowing that I had to explain to him what I had (or hadn’t) done since our last call was more motivating than anything else. So I guess for some of us having a co-conspirator can help if you can’t get going on your own.

The second major thing was place: I wrote both books while being on the road. And while this normally isn’t conducive to getting things done, I made sure I traveled to places where I would find some quietude and inspiration. One of these places turned out to be so wonderful I ended up moving here.1

This made me crack up a little:

As I settle into one of these (writing) mornings, it’s just as likely that I’ll write as it is that I’ll count the number of folks in the room who’ve chosen to drink from ceramic mugs versus paper cups.

The bottomline is that if we’re looking for distractions, we’re going to find them. You can leave your smartphone at home and block all the internet that you want, but if you’re not focussed, you’re not focussed. So to add a third piece of advice from my experience: Make it easy for yourself to get going. I know some people like to stop writing when they know exactly what they’re going to write next. Some even stop mid-sentence. As for me, a short outline or a few notes on the upcoming chapter can work wonders to skip the mug-counting and get into writing mode the next day.

  1. Don’t get me started on the irony of abandoning TFA after this move. We were busy doing other things out there while nobody was watching. Which was (and is) a nice thing to do. []

More browser, less Facebook

Jason Kottke links to a worthwhile piece on Mashable (of all things). If you want to make the internet better in 2018, it states, stop getting your stories on Facebook and start to…:

Use your browser bar.*

[*Or bookmarked websites.]

That’s it.

Literally, all you need to do: Type in web addresses. Use autofill! Or even: Google the website you want to go to, and go to it. Then bookmark it. Then go back every now and again.

Instead of reading stories that get to you because they’re popular, or just happen to be in your feed at that moment, you’ll read stories that get to you because you chose to go to them. 

And while we’re RSS people more than bookmarks people here on TFA, I still wanted to second that recommendation. Of course, you already know that. But help a friend. Help your mum. Show them the beauty of the indieweb and assist them get off their social media drugs.

P.S. Austin Kleon on the matter: