Creation Over Consumption

The human brain doesn’t learn based on consumption, it learns through creation.
– Jim Kwik

Writing for me is the best way I know of thoroughly learning anything. Writing to me is taking a concept that you understand on the surface and molding it into your own words. I realized this fact months ago by starting this blog. However, for whatever reason I stopped.

Why? The reasons seemed to change depending on my current mood when I asked myself. The blunt truth is I rationalized not doing it. It was the election, not knowing what to say, not having energy etc. When I originally started, my goal was simple: improve my writing and continue the chain so I would have a body of work to look back on. I really don’t have a good reason why I stopped. The only explanation that makes sense now is that I didn’t see the benefits at the time anymore. It became a burden. It felt like homework. I told myself “I thought I was done with homework years ago.” There is nothing worse than feeling like a once joyous activity is now homework. Even if intellectually we know something is good, when it feels like a burden and we forget why we’re doing it, we will abandon it. Our feelings toward something morph and change, and we often struggle figuring out why. Some reasons this may happen are simply with the passage of time or because of the new uses of technology. We are so overwhelmed in our lives, things are constantly changing that we don’t associate our own reasons for doing the things we once loved.

So I’ve had enough, I’m picking it back up. I’m giving it a shot, one additional push. This is my peripeteia. And I have to credit a friend for it, because sometimes that what’s we were missing—someone to show us how much we used to enjoy something and how we could gain from doing it again. Simple, right? Yes and no. She told me I had until Friday to post, and it is Friday evening as I squeeze this out. I fought every reason why I shouldn’t do it, but I gave her my word; so here it is. It may not be the quality I want, but the act of doing is so much more important.

Asking Better Questions: What I Learned During My Hiatus

In the time I’ve been away, one thing I’ve learned that has had a powerful effect on me is asking better questions. More specifically, asking empowering questions. So instead of asking “Why haven’t I written in awhile?” a better question would be simply “what is exciting in my life that I want to write about?” When I realized my questions weren’t as empowering as they could be, I stole and modified an idea I heard from James Altucher. His suggestion for coming up with better ideas is all about building up the brain strength by practicing writing ideas and in essence becoming better at idea generation. I’ve taken it one step further and said before coming up with ideas, come up with great questions.

A core belief that has shaped my personal and professional destiny is that if I continue to ask any question, I will receive an answer. All we need to do is to create a better question, and we’ll get a better answer. A metaphor I sometimes use is that life is just a Jeopardy! game; all the answers are there—all you have to do is come up with the right questions to win. – Anthony Robbins

So I’ve been replacing my morning journaling with my own morning power questions session. What questions do you think could empower you to pick something up you have been putting off? What can you gain from writing those questions down? What could that do for you if you started it now?

You’re More Ready Than You Believe

God will not place a burden on a man’s shoulder knowing that he cannot handle it. – Muhammed Ali

I was listening to John Grisham on The Moment with Brian Koppelman, and they were laughing at how when they first started writing they would see peers doing crappy work and it gave them confidence that they could do it too. Seeing someone else doing what they themselves sought to do poorly gave them faith they could do better.

Once I started writing my first novel, I began reading more best sellers. I was very honest with myself. I read a great book, and said I can never do that. I read a bad book and said I can do that. It was actually the bad books that kept me going… I read a book at the beach one summer in 1986, and the writer was insanely famous. He made a bunch of money, with a bunch of books and this was novel number seven in his series, or whatever. And it was so bad, I started underlying sentences, I said how can you possibly write a sentence this clunky and awful and get it published. You’re on the best seller’s list, selling millions of these things. Ok that does it, I’m inspired. The bad books kept me going. – John Grisham

Like Steve Jobs says,

Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

If you have an fire under your belly, scratch it.