• How to Read More

    07/02 2013

    How can you read more? This is something I deal with all the time. I haven’t been reading tons of books lately–I’ve been reading articles from academic journals, chapters from academic books, and articles. But still, when reading is important to you, whether it’s important to you because it’s part of your job, or you’re just aware of how enriching and fulfilling the process of reading is, you always feel like you could be reading more than you currently read. That hour at night before you go to bed just doesn’t cut it.

    I am absolutely in love with this post by Ryan Holiday, How To Read More. Of Time, Money, and Purpose, I think the main barrier most people face is time. Here’s what he has to say:

    The key to reading lots of book begins with stop thinking of it as some activity that you do. Reading must become as natural as eating and breathing to you. It’s not something you do because you feel like it, but because it’s a reflex, a default.

    Carry a book with you at all times. Every time you get a second, crack it open. Don’t install games on your phone–that’s time you could be reading. When you’re eating, read. When you’re on the train, in the waiting room, at the office–read. It’s work, really important work. Don’t let anyone ever let you feel like it’s not.

    Do you know how much time you waste during the day? Conference calls, meetings, TV shows that you don’t really like but watch anyway. Well, if you can make time for that you can make time for reading. (Or better, just swap those activities for books)

    I think that the more you read, the more important it becomes to you. The sense of purpose that reading provides builds upon itself. In this way, it’s like exercise, eating well, engaging in non-work-related hobbies, or making time for the people in your life. It may not seem incredibly important to you at first, but as you become more sane and self-disciplined, it’s really hard to go back.

    When I was reviewing books full-time seven years ago, I read two books a week. This was my strategy to the T–I brought books with me everywhere and read all the time instead of playing with my phone. It makes me cringe whenever someone says “but you’re only going to have time to read a page right now, why bother?” True, you do end up breaking your reading into multiple little chunks, but it’s really surprising how far you go towards your goals when you add up all of those smaller segments of time.

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  • How to read more in 2013: Less Flow, More Stock

    01/03 2013

    I was half-expecting Jeff Ryan’s recent article in Slate on how he read a book a day in 2012 to be somewhat self-congratulatory. Fortunately, it wasn’t. It actually made me feel like even I might be capable of pulling off such a feat. Here’s the money quote:

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  • How to break into writing book reviews

    11/09 2012

    Overall, Rebecca Skloot has probably the best advice I’ve ever seen on breaking into book reviews on her website. Some of the best advice: “Read the publication you plan to query” to know their tastes. Her advice on getting clips is, for the most part, spot-on. But the market is completely different since Skloot first broke into book reviewing, so I’m going to update a few things.

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  • How to Write a Successful Blog

    07/26 2012

    I’ve been looking at a lot of blogs lately to see just what makes a blog successful, and what lessons I can learn from this.

    Actually carrying out this research is something of an exercise in how to mar the scientific process. For one, what actually qualifies as a successful blog is up for interpretation. Secondly, there’s way to accurately get a list of “All Blogs That Were Ever Started” to be able to compare them to blogs that are deemed successful.

     

    1. Successful bloggers love writing.

    There are few things tackier than copying sections out of other people’s blog entries without asking permission, but Chris Guillebeau’s entry on How to Write 300,000 Words in One Year is so full of greatness that I’m inspired to do just that.

    In choosing to write, you must choose the pain of discipline. Good news: it’s not that painful, once you get used to it. You just have to make it more important than other things you could spend time on.

    Make your art your obsession. Fall in love with it. Experience withdrawal symptoms when you don’t give it your attention.

    Say no to other things so you can make art. Learn to view sacrifice as an investment. Writing is a joyful experience that will bring you comfort and satisfaction, but you must put the hours in.

     

    This reminds me of a section in Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write:

    “When we make time to write, we can do it anytime, anywhere…. If we learn to write from the sheer love of writing, there is always enough time, but time must be stolen like a quick kiss between lovers on the run. As a shrewd woman once told me, “The busiest and most important man can always find time or you if he’s in love with you and, if he can’t, then he is not in love.” When we love our writing, we find time for it.”

    You must fall in love with writing. If you’re not in love with whatever it is that you’re trying to be great at, you won’t practice enough to become exceptional. Anyone can become exceptional, but it depends on the quality of your practice. (Talent is Overrated and The Talent Code are my favorite books on deliberate practice.)

    Edison

    2. Successful bloggers keep going.

    By definition, there are no successful abandoned blogs.

    Again, Chris Guillebeau has it right when he quotes Jim Rohn: “We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret and disappointment.”

    Plenty of genius writers have abandoned their blogs: it takes a long time to build an audience. That’s why I love looking at Tim Ferriss’s and Ramit Sethi’s first blogs: no one was reading. You can see it in the lack of comments. Where Ferriss and Sethi (and other successful people) excel is in their ability to consistently favor actions that get long-term results over short-term gains. Even when you don’t lose weight every time you go to the gym, you keep going… and eventually you look hot. Even though you don’t have thousands of readers, you keep writing. And eventually when they start coming, you’ve already got a lot of great content that keeps them hooked.

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  • How to Choose a Photographer

    04/17 2012

     

    How to choose a photographer, or decide between a few things. My magical plan:

    hummm...

    This guy should just ask his wife what fruit to get. Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Lia Bravo via Compfight

     

    1. Put a quick ad on Craigslist seeking a photographer for a quick portrait session.
    2. Within a day, get three pages of responses:
    3. Ask your significant other to help narrow the list down.
    4. Receive the list of “approved photographers” from your S.O.
    5. Check out the chosen photographers’ websites.
    6. Suddenly realize exactly why you do/don’t like them, and what you want in a photographer.
    7. Return to original list (see #2) and contact the two that you like.

    This is a little like the old trick of flipping a coin if you can’t decide: when the coin is in the air, your instinct overrides the more deliberate part of your mind and manages to make a decision quickly. Likewise, when you’ve eliminated 90% of the options and start to miss certain features–that’s your clue about what the important characteristics are. My way, of course, helps narrow down decisions with 50 potential outcomes *and* gets my partner in the decision-making process. Win-win!

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