A phrase that’s been showing up recently is, “no pressure.” It usually comes in a pitch letter of some sort, written by someone who isn’t in a position to exert any pressure.
So why say it?
It’s a bit like, “while supplies last.” And “to be honest…” which is perhaps the most self-negating of the three.
It’s throat-clearing, a word salad designed to somehow establish a connection or at least the appearance of empathy or clear thought.
Semiotics is the science of signs and symbols. A stop sign isn’t a stop sign unless it looks like a stop sign, and that song they sing on your birthday means something really different if people whisper it quietly.
It’s tempting to simply focus our attention on the text itself. That we should say what we mean and mean what we say. But messages merely begin with the text. The rhythm, presentation, source, and context deliver most of what we take away from a message.
Watching a video with the sound off communicates far more than we realize.
And one way to develop a style of writing is to skip the salad. Simply say what you mean.
Donna Tartt once said in an interview that if the writer’s not having fun the reader isn’t either. I think people make the best things when they love the process, when they willingly shoulder the inherent uncertainty and pain that comes with it. It’s almost like a form of prayer: you offer up what you can even though the reward is uncertain. You do it out of love.
When you’re doing something hard, focus on the fun part.
Many people make a subtle mistake, which is they emphasize how difficult it is to do something. They tell themselves writing is hard or running is hard or math is hard. And so on. The dominant thought in their mind is that this is hard to do.
And it is true these things (and many others in life) can be challenging.
Meanwhile, people who thrive in a given area are often emphasizing a completely different aspect of the experience. They are thinking about how it feels good to move their body rather than telling themselves exercise is hard. Or, perhaps, they aren’t really thinking much at all. They may slip into a trance during their run, a meditative rhythm.
But what they are almost certainly not doing is repeating a mental story about how hard it is to do the thing. Their dominant thought is about some element of the experience they enjoy. They are working hard, but with the fun part in mind.
For many years I’ve been in desperate search of taste. I think people wrongly assume that your taste is a birthright, that it will fall into your lap. I don’t think so. I think you have to run after it.
People change in four seasons: when they hurt enough they have to, when they see enough they are inspired to, when they learn enough that they want to, and when they receive enough that they are able to
What writing consistently has taught me: how to accept bad days, and how to structure my life in a way to make good days possible.
Highly focused people do not leave their options open. They select their priorities and are comfortable ignoring the rest. If you commit to nothing, you’ll be distracted by everything.
The myth is that there isn't enough time. There is plenty of time. There isn't enough focus with the time you have. You win by directing your attention toward better things.
Just because improvements aren’t visible doesn’t mean they aren’t happening. You’re not going to see the number change each time you step on the scale. You’re not going to finish a chapter each time you sit down to write. Early wins come easy. Lasting wins require a lifestyle.