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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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Reading through this advice from John Steinbeck about writing, his warning about advice really hit home:

If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that makes a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story.

Everyone who achieved something in the past did so without productivity tools, blog entries recounting tips and secrets, or even inspiring TED videos. As Scott Berkun put it in his great book The Myths of Innovation, "Many of them were dropouts or wanderers in the spaces between disciplines and professions. However, what they did do was pick specific problems they were passionate about, and got to work."

Be wary of meta-work, in other words. It's too easy to convince yourself that it's actual work.