And the whole trick to having these things come out right was that you had to work hard and wait for them to come out right, you couldn’t just say oh it will never be it will never be; you just had to keep on until it was, even if in the meantime your feet hurt and you grew a white beard that reached all the way to the ground. He had taken on a plan once before in his life, back in Houston when he decided to become a hustling cowboy and seek his fortune in the East. Well, he had carried that out, he had become a hustling cowboy and he had sought his fortune. There just wasn’t any there, but he had sought it and that was the whole point. And now, this time, maybe there wouldn’t be any ordinary life for him but he would goddam well do some seeking, and go on stubborn and hard-assed about it till the day he died.

Midnight Cowboy, James Leo Herlihy.

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Habits are the peripheral vision of the mind. Churning away just below the level of conscious decision-making, they scan a situation with a conceptual eye to disregarding most of it. The theory is simple enough: respond automatically to the familiar, and you’re then free to respond selectively to the unfamiliar. Applying that theory, however, is a bit dicier. Indulge too many habits, and life sinks into a mind-dulling routine. Too few, and coping with a relentless stream of incoming detail overwhelms you (much as users of certain psychotropic drugs become mesmerized once they notice that every blade of grass is growing.)

— David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art & Fear

Compared to other challenges, the ultimate shortcoming of technical problems is not that they’re hard, but that they’re easy.

Artists, naturally, would be the last to admit that, if only because heroic accounts of grueling hours spent building the mold or casting the hot metal remain de riguer or artistic conversation. But while mastering technique is difficult and time-consuming, it’s still inherently easier to reach an already defined goal – a “right answer” – than to give form to a new idea.

— David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art & Fear

Ordinary art means something like: all art not made by Mozart. After all, art is rarely made by Mozart-like people — essentially (statistically speaking) there aren’t any people like that.

— David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art & Fear.

I believe quick iteration is a powerful tool outside of the shark tank of incurious consumer tech. Quick iteration — obliterating unknowns — is an effective way of working through ideas. One of the biggest threats to any creative project is allowing the potential for the thing to subvert your ability to make it. It’s easy to be seduced by the world of potentiality. A book is always greatest before it’s written. You are intoxicated by what it can be. That’s very dangerous. You want to kill those seductions as quickly as possible, and one way to achieve that is fast iteration. Make known the unknown; murder your fantasies.

Craig Mod

One of my favorite quantifiable heuristics is to maximize the number of days I spend with people I love and respect and whose work moves my heart. In essence I’m trying to “collect” good people in the way someone may acquire a stock portfolio. The greater number of people near to you for whom you have deep respect strengthens archetypes. Stronger archetypes means being shown more paths for life potentialities. Life potentialities writ clear before your very eyes demystifies them and means a higher chance of success that you, too, will be able to realize those potentialities. I’ve found the best way to increase these people in life is to work hard, be kind, empathetic. Good begets good, amplifies good, inspires diligence.

Craig Mod

Does affecting one hundred lives turn you on? A thousand? A million? A billion? Why? What does it mean to have a positive impact on a life? How intimate does that connection need to be? Understanding your scale — the scale that moves you — is critical to understanding with whom and how you should work, how you should live.

Craig Mod

There’s a mean fallacy in the world: that all you need to produce big, meaty pieces of work is internal gumption. “Pull yourself up by the bootstraps!” they say. “The onus is on you to make your life better!” et cetera. You see this bandied about by political nudniks when talking about down-and-out folks, folks in low-income situations, folks who’ve turned to drugs. It’s one of the meanest and laziest ways to frame the world. Sometimes you feel so small, and the room you’re in so suffocating that you want to drink yourself into the ground. Sometimes that spot in the dirt is the softest, coolest place you might have in your life.

Craig Mod

If I wake up and touch my phone, I’ve already lost hours. Not because I’m browsing social media for hours, but because the mind has already been agitated, made unquiet, and the context switch back into thoughtfulness can take the whole morning. In other words, the addict part of my brain takes over and contaminates my ability to be contemplative.

Craig Mod

The first thing I do in the morning is often look at my phone. I have mixed feelings about it. There are benefits (which is why I even do it) but the above rings very true.