Dave Grohl on The Truth About How to Succeed in the Music Industry

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If You’re Going to Ponder, Ponder With a Pink Feather Pen

Ponder this way:           Not this way: … [Read more...]

Sleep Deprivation and Early School Starts May Be Driving Your Teen Crazy

Many teens are chronically sleep deprived, and many would do MUCH better if school started later: Evidence that sleep is important is overwhelming. Elegant research has demonstrated its critical role in memory consolidation and our ability to generate innovative solutions to complex problems. Sleep disruption increases the level of the stress hormone cortisol. Impulsive behaviors, lack of empathy, sense of humor, and mood are similarly affected. All in all, a tired adolescent is a grumpy, moody, insensitive, angry, and stressed one. Perhaps less obviously, sleep loss is associated with metabolic changes. Research has shown that blood-glucose regulation was greatly impaired in young men who slept only four hours on six consecutive nights, with their insulin levels comparable to the early stages of diabetes. Similar studies have shown higher levels of the hormone ghrelin, which promotes hunger, and lower levels of leptin, which creates a sense of feeling full. The suggestion is that long-term … [Read more...]

Yoga Can Help With Creative Block

This article recommending yoga as a solution for creative block makes a lot of sense. First, as the article points out, a lot of creative endeavors, including even writing, can tax the body: As a yoga teacher, Bobowicz was concerned about the repetitive stress that plagues artists as they work. "Jewelers can hammer over and over again, painters use their hands and wrists to do brush strokes, and writers crouch at their desks and type -- stress that builds up on important parts of the body can become a block so the creative force can't flow through," Bobowicz said. "We want to keep these body parts open and healthy. I see this as occupational therapy for artists." For writers and others who are sedentary, that's also a big problem. Beyond that, getting passionately involved in yoga or any other endeavor can take the pressure off your writing. Finally, physical exercise is a great catalyst for creativity, and many people (including me!) get useful ideas or fresh perspectives while walking or … [Read more...]

Enid Blyton: Prolific Writer

The Guardian reports on a new exhibit on famed British children's writer Enid Blyton. She produced more than 700 books, mainly for young readers, and was very disciplined both in her writing habits and her bookkeeping and business management: But grown-up visitors will be intrigued to see how little editing Blyton's manuscripts needed. She would cross out the odd word, insert an adjective here and there, but what was published was more or less what she battered out with two frantic fingers on the typewriter, also on display in Newcastle. During a 50-year career, Blyton rattled off an astonishing 700-plus books, as well as 4,500 stories. The exhibition also reveals that she did her own accounts. A pencil-written ledger from 1926 entitled "work paid for" showed Blyton, then 29, earned £189, nine shillings and 11 pence in January alone. "It's fascinating to see how organised she was," said Kate Edwards, chief executive of Seven Stories. "She was such a shrewd businesswoman." Also on show in Newcastle are … [Read more...]

Seth Godin on Why You Shouldn’t Take Critics Too Seriously

"Have you noticed just how often the critics disagree with one another? And how often they're just wrong? "And yet we not only read them, but we believe them. Worse, we judge ourselves, contrasting our feelings with their words. Worse still, we sometimes think we hear the feared critic's voice before we even ship our work out the door... "Every single book I've written has gotten at least a few one star reviews on Amazon. Every one. The lowest possible rating, the rating of, "don't bother reading this, in fact it never should have been written." Not just me, of course. Far better writers, writers like Fitzgerald, Orwell and Kincaid have gotten even more one-star reviews on their books than I can ever hope to." Link I will only add that if you have perfectionist tendencies, then your inner critic is probably the least reliable critic of all. … [Read more...]

What Procrastination Looks Like

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Study: College Students Motivated by Intrinsic Rewards do Better Than Those Motivated by Money

The trouble is that many lower-income students don't have the luxury of studying an unremunerative field just because they're interested in it. According to this University of Rochester study, many choose a major more on the basis of whether they feel they can earn a living doing it than any intrinsic liking for it. This may be one reason why lower-income students as a group don't do as well in college as upper income ones: The study found that students motivated by a desire for autonomy and competence tended to earn higher grades and show a greater likelihood of persistence than did other students. (The findings were controlled for academic background and various other factors, and were based on surveys of 2,500 students at a community college and a liberal arts college that were not identified.)... For instance, wealthier students appeared more likely than low-income students to achieve success based on their interest in studying certain subject areas. It's not that low-income students don't want to … [Read more...]

Jerry Seinfeld to Writers: “No Slack For You” Even on Festivus!

We like to look for one primary secret to the success of the superstars of the world, even though almost always a combination of factors, people, and circumstances were involved. It remains instructive though when a highly successful professional freely offers the big reveal on how they got to the top. As reported in Lifehacker, software developer Brad Isaac has such a story to tell about Jerry Seinfeld, and it’s not “about nothing.” Isaac knew Seinfeld as a nightclub comic before he hit it big in television, but already it was clear he was on his way up. He asked Jerry what the big secret was, and he got an answer. Productivity is everything in writing. Only through having a mountain of material can you cull out the crap and leave an abundance of actual nuggets of great quality. And the one and only way to attain this level of productivity is to write something every day. He didn’t mean 364 days a year. You don’t take a day off on the Festivus for the Rest of Us. Writing every day meant just that to … [Read more...]

Finals Week to Netflix (Procrastination Illustrated)

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Does Dopamine Create Motivation?

  Scientists now believe it does.   "It was believed that dopamine regulated pleasure and reward and that we release it when we obtain something that satisfies us, but in fact the latest scientific evidence shows that this neurotransmitter acts before that, it actually encourages us to act. In other words, dopamine is released in order to achieve something good or to avoid something evil", explains Mercè Correa. Studies had shown that dopamine is released by pleasurable sensations but also by stress, pain or loss. These research results however had been skewed to only highlight the positive influence, according to Correa." I'm pretty sure that - except perhaps in cases of serious depression - the environmental influence on motivation is going to far outweigh the dopamine influence. Regardless of your level of dopamine, if you're perfectionist or ambivalent about your work, or stressed, or under-resourced, or in a hostile context, your motivation will suffer. It's useful to … [Read more...]

Franz Kafka’s Writer’s Block

Mason Currey, author of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, writes about three procrastinating writers, Edgar Allen Poe, William James, and Franz Kafka: "In 1908, Kafka landed a position at the Workers’ Accident Insurance Institute in Prague, where he was fortunate to be on the coveted “single shift” system, which meant office hours from 8 or 9 in the morning until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. This was a distinct improvement over his previous job, which required long hours and frequent overtime. So how did Kafka use these newfound hours of freedom? First, lunch; then a four-hour-long nap; then 10 minutes of exercise; then a walk; then dinner with his family; and then, finally, at 10:30 or 11:30 at night, a few hours of writing—although much of this time was spent writing letters or diary entries. In his letters, Kafka complained that his day job was holding him back, but as Louis Begley argues in his excellent biographical essay on Kafka, this was really just an excuse. Begley writes, "It is rare that writers … [Read more...]

Writer’s Block: Erykah Badu Gets It Right

Singer Erikah Badu's fantastic advice re writer's block: "Don't worry. When U have NO content to express the emotion U are feeling. It's not writer's block. It's just downloading time." ht Sheldon Levine, Sysomos Here's another singer who gets it. … [Read more...]

Writer’s Block is Universal

Sheldon Levine at Sysomos used his company's social media analytics platform to see how often people mention writer's block online, and who is mentioning it. He got some interesting results, including: Of the 100 days I looked at, 54.7% of all the social mentions of writers block that I found came from the United States. People in China seemed to suffer from writers block the second most, but they only accounted for 17.9% of the conversation. Something interesting to point out is that the other countries that had a significant amount of chatter about writers block were also “Westernized” countries like the UK (8.5%), Canada (3.8%) and Australia (3.5%). He also found women mentioning it more than men: Pretty fascinating stuff, but even he admits this is nowhere like science. The high proportion of blocked writers in western countries may reflect that people in those countries feel free-er to write. (As opposed to those at risk for jail or worse.) Also, men still tend to seek out help for emotional … [Read more...]

Guest Post: Tips for Thesis Writers: How to Get to the First Draft

Terrific advice for all writers from Ph.D. student Nolanne Chang, reprinted with kind permission. Here's her blog. She sounds very empowered as she works to create a context that supports her writing productivity! - Hillary Previously in my posts I’ve outlined my feelings on the general structure of writing a science thesis, and what the style and substance of each section should be. In this set of posts I’ll discuss my retrospective advice on the easiest way of writing a thesis. 1) Write a Literature Review your first year Quite a large portion of my literature review/introduction section of my thesis was written in the first year of my PhD. In my second year this was easily cut, pasted, reformatted, tweaked, and with the addition of a few paragraphs made up the introduction section to my transfer report (standard mid-way thesis in England). In the third and fourth years, I updated the original literature review to include the latest papers and to incorporate changes in the experiments that had … [Read more...]