Photo: Jay Ryness
I wasn’t originally sold on the idea of blogging.
Even when I tried to get in the habit of posting, I found it hard to stick with. Blogging took time — time to write essays daily, put in links, clean up spam, and respond to the comments that trickled in, time that was uncompensated. Why, I wondered, would I take time away from paying assignments to put my work out there for free?
Even after my book, 168 Hours, came out in 2010, and I realized I needed to interact with readers, I still thought blogging was a side venture to my real writing. More days than not, I’d take 30-60 minutes to write a post and publish it, but I still viewed it more as a labor of love (or at least PR) than anything else.
Then something funny happened. About a year into daily blogging, I’d carve out time to write a draft of an essay for a newspaper or magazine. I’d give myself until lunch, but by 10:00, I’d be done.
What was going on? I finally figured it out while reading Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better, by Doug Lemov, Katie Yezzi, and Erica Woolway. These three educators have trained thousands of teachers over the years, and they studied patterns in how teachers improved at their craft, and how others do, too. The big breakthroughs, they noted, came from drills — discrete actions that focus on certain skills — in order to automate certain practices you’d like to improve.
Basketball players do shooting drills and passing drills. Piano players do arpeggios and scales. As they carve these actions into their muscle and mental memory, they can summon these skills almost by instinct during performances or games. That gives them the mental space to focus on bigger things — the arc of a piece, the layout of players on the court.
For a writer, blogging turns out to be a daily drill. By writing lots of don’t-need-to-be-perfect blog posts, I learned how to crank out rough drafts fast. By carving out time for daily practice, I made myself more efficient at my work. Each hour spent blogging saved me time later as I stewed less over drafts and had more time for edits.
Put in that light, blogging now seems like the most productive part of my day. Not only am I interacting with readers, I’m getting faster at what I do! Just as I accepted practice as part of studying the piano years ago, I embrace blogging as the “practicing” part of my writing work.
If you’d like to get more efficient at your work, making time every day for practice drills could likewise be one of the most productive decisions you make. To be sure, not everyone has a job where the drills are as obvious as blogging, in retrospect, was for me. But if you think about your job and how you spend your time, you can likely see certain skills you use repeatedly.
Maybe you make presentations. Maybe you deliver feedback to employees. Maybe you field hostile questions from clients. Think about how you can isolate these skills and practice them repeatedly. Ask your team members to launch a rapid-fire barrage of criticism about a proposal at the end of a staff meeting, for instance.
Most people don’t consciously practice their job. If you do, it can be a source of major competitive advantage. Keep track of your practice and how you’re improving individually or as a team by writing it down.
Most importantly, you have to actually make time for your practice drills. When you spend time getting better, you often get better. And that’s a much better place to be.
Do you make time to practice?(Portfolio, 2012), “All The Money In The World” (Portfolio, 2012) and “168 Hours” (Portfolio, 2010); visit
Neil Gaiman has released a book of his great commencement address, Make Good Art.
When things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician — make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor — make good art. IRS on your trail — make good art. Cat exploded — make good art. Someone on the Internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before — make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, eventually time will take the sting away, and that doesn’t even matter. Do what only you can do best: Make good art. Make it on the bad days, make it on the good days, too.
I love Gaiman’s message, but I also want to make a plug for something else: when the going gets rough, make bad art, too.
When 9/11 and Katrina hit and she lost a bunch of her close friends, Lynda Barry got really depressed, and all she could do is doodle:
I found myself compelled, like this weird, shameful compulsion to draw cute animals. That was all I could stand to draw. You know, just cry and draw cute animals…dancing dogs with crowns on, you know? And, like, really friendly ducks. But I found this monkey, this meditating monkey, and I found that once - when I drew that monkey, it’s not that it fixed the problem. But it did shift it a little bit, or provide me some kind of relief. And that’s when I started to think, maybe that’s what images do, because I believe in all my - with all my heart they have an absolute biological function…
“Good” can be a stifling word, a word that makes you hesitate and stare at a blank page and second-guess yourself and throw stuff in the trash. What’s important is to get your hands moving and let the images come. Whether it’s good or bad is beside the point. Make art.
Inspiration from Rue ♥
This Explains Everything
I’m really proud of this one guys
i’m so overprotective of new technology the first week i have it and then i get so comfortable with it that i just start throwing it out of planes and shit
Please read this****
If a thief forces you to take money from an ATM, do not argue or resist. What you should do is punch your pin in reverse. EX: if your pin is 1234 you punch 4321. The moment you punch in the reverse, the money will come out but will be stuck in the machine and the machine will immediately alert the police without the theif’s knowledge. Every ATM has this feature.
Reblog this so everyone knows, this happens all the time especially in the city
tumblr teaches me so much more than anyone else does about life situations
i know everyones freaking out about yahoo buying tumblr but maybe just maybe its the beggining of something
“I know things are stressful right now, but trust me, by the end of the month you won’t even remember that scruffy hipster’s name,” Yahoo promised Tumblr, noting all the unnecessary reblog-as-links, the flawed tag system, the general chaos. This poor girl needed a doctor. She didn’t even know she was being mistreated. Kissing her forehead on a whim, she felt the girl warm up under her hands.
Tears welled up in Tumblr’s eyes, though she was obviously doing her best to fight them. “Can you promise me?” she asked, voice thick. “Please promise me that you won’t try to change me?”
“You won’t change. I just want to help, you, T. You have to trust me.”
She gripped Yahoo’s sleeves, a sudden fierceness masking her anxiety. “Promise me,” she said. No— she demanded.
Even though right now all she wanted was to hold T tight, she knew she had to tread delicately here. Change was frightening, even for less volatile sites. She could only imagine how T felt, being traded off like a common toy. “I promise,” Yahoo said, cradling T’s face between her palms so that their eyes met. She hoped her sincerity could somehow be transmitted through their locked gaze, that T could see how much she valued her, how much she wanted to protect her. “I swear on my life.”
She could tell T didn’t believe her. As crushing as that was, though, she would just have to prove to her through actions, not words, that their union would be for the best.
it’s okay to be feminine (◠‿◠✿)
it’s okay to be masculine (◡‿◡✿)
let people be who they want to be ✧･ﾟ: *✧･ﾟ:* \(◕‿◕✿)/ *:･ﾟ✧*:･ﾟ✧
And then everyone mistakes Felix for a guy.
maryamzahhak replied to your post
jfC those are some cute dwarves and ah yes felix is a total babe
Mwahah~ I wanted to make him super girly cute because basically keeping the characters’ existing qualities, and then dat suggestion for him kinda threw me off but I think it worked out fine?
And the dwarves are cuties all the time. I ♥ them~ :’3