It’s not the thing, it’s the thing behind the thing.

Both kinds of dread!

Pretty much everything is more interesting to do once you’ve taken a couple of levels in Self Awareness.

F’rexample, I’ve learned in the week or so since I started this post-every-day-but-Sunday-experiment that the biggest reason I resist writing articles like this isn’t the actual writing of the article.

As long as I’m careful about the expectations I set for the writing (translated: as long as I don’t say, “Okay, article, you better be a goddamn masterpiece.”) this bit I’m doing now is usually pretty fine.

I don’t mind writing and editing articles. I hate all the things I have to do once I’m finished.

My torment, let me show you it:

Decide on a title.

Find the right picture.

Do all the SEO stuff.

Schedule a couple of tweets.

Doesn’t sound terrible. But now I pay more attention, I can feel my energy levels plummet while I’m doing it. Doing that ten minutes of work acts like the parachute they attach to drag racers. I was going along fine, and then FOOMSH.

But why does forty minutes of writing leave me feeling fine, when only ten minutes of admin squashes me like a bug?

’Cos they’re different kinds of work.

The writing is creative work. The choosing of the “right” (or at least “adequate”) title/picture/keyword/category/tag is analytical work.

And analytical work is, for me, the worst possible thing to start the day with.

Even ten minutes of it noticeably deflates the rest of my precious, precious morning. A client session will help to get me back to where I need to be – they are a super-injection of energy – but I have quite possibly lost an hour in aimless Facebook dickery before then.

So what to do now I know this?

Two things:
1. Short term, get more organised so I don’t have to do the argh-inducing bits first thing in the morning.
2. Longer term, hire someone else to do it for me. I would write a lot more often if I didn’t have to do the bits I hate.

I’m also wondering how many other things I resist doing where it’s not the actual work that’s the problem. I plan to keep an eye out for this and report.

A challenge for you!

Next time you’re doing a task you dread, pay attention. Is it a never-ending pit of suck, or are there just a few steps that taint the whole experience? And if so, do you have to be the person who does those steps?

Experiment and report in the comments!

Poetry and shovels

Sometimes when you come to write, you get poetry: lyrical, profound, gutsy, whimsical, full-throttle, evocative.

And sometimes you get shovels: it’s a shovel. It digs stuff.

Some people think of themselves as poets, so they throw out everything which isn’t poetry.

Some people think of themselves as workers, so they throw out everything which isn’t usefully shovel-like.

Some people want to keep both.

I have some questions.

1. The poet and the worker are easy, branding-wise. How does the shovels-and-poetry person brand themselves?

2. Does the shovels-and-poetry person suffer for that lack of simplicity? Or does the prolificness outweigh any potential downsides?

3. Is it wise for the poet to throw away the mundane?

4. Is it wise for the worker to throw away the numinous?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Cirque du Soleil don’t ALWAYS innovate.

Cirque du Soleil broke the rules of circus.

Their choreography, their costumes, their lighting, music, themes, action, experience… all new. All innovative. Different.

But when it comes to marketing… they buy ads. They promote corporate tickets. They put up posters.

Their marketing is just like everyone else’s.

If your marketing plan suits you and works, it doesn’t matter a tin fart whether it’s a plain plan. A prosaic plan. Even a boring plan.

Cirque du Soleil reinvented the circus. They didn’t need to reinvent ways to tell people about it.

And neither do you.

Have you felt the pressure to create and Interesting Marketing Plan? Tell us in the comments!

photo by: Focka

Possibly the most insane thing anyone has ever said to me, ever.

Everyone in their twenties has a friend like this. Let’s call him G.

He was an old school mate of The Dude’s, a triple-threat geek, and let’s say he had some… issues. He was that friend you tell stories about years later: “Do you remember that time G accused me of cheating at UNO?”

(True story.)

G was exasperated by many things.

One of them was my approach to Tekken. Since this was back in my nascent days of transitioning from gamer girlfriend to gamer, I was not very good at Tekken. I certainly wasn’t much good at it compared to G, who played all the time.

So I did what many a game-playing n00b has done, and tried out the classic Frantic Button Mashing Technique. Mostly, this lead to my defeat: I certainly had no capacity to remember which button would block my opponent’s attacks.

But sometimes, I would pull out some epic up-down-up-down-A-B-A-B combo that would eviscerate my opponent.

And that’s when G said it.

One of the first things I did when we got settled in the new house (and had a firm date for the Internet to get turned on) was to buy the latest World of Warcraft expansion pack.

And one of the very first things I did when the modem lights started announcing the connection was live was to install it.

I logged in with audible squealing and an enthusiastic welcome back from the guild of folks I used to raid with three times a week. “Welcome back,” they said. “You better level up your character fast so you can raid with us again.”

G got exasperated with The Dude, too.

The Dude was playing Gran Turismo, with his best epic-hairpin-at-the-end-of-a-straight screechy turny sound effects.

He was upgrading his car when G had something to say. “You shouldn’t use the Supra, you should use the Nissan Skyline. It’s a better car.”

“But I like the Supra. And I just won.”

“You would have won faster with the Skyline.”

And then he said it.

I finally got a nice long uninterrupted stretch of time to play WoW in. I logged in, all ready to complete quests, kill monsters, and upgrade all my gear. Level 90, here I come!

Then I found the pet battles. This is a new feature, and is essentially Pokémon as imagined by Tolkien on acid. We’ve been able to collect pets in the game since the beginning, and I’ve collected Many Of Them, but this is the first time it’s been possible to make them fight, and actively collect new pets.

I promptly abandoned my epic world-saving quests in favour of beating up squirrels with a floating skull.

Many hours later The Dude caught up with me and made fun of me. “Collecting all the Pokeymans, huh. Aren’t you supposed to be saving the world?”

I laughed, ignored him, and went back to trying to catch a rare Small Frog.

I liked playing with G’s Warhammer 40K army.

I liked the stories about Space Marines and cryogenic Emperors and blood for the Blood God.

But I wouldn’t actually play the game, which was much more math than I was willing to enjoy. Instead I’d paint my one Chaos Warrior and call him Goatdude, and tell stories about him and his friends.

You could see G thinking it.

Yesterday, we were talking about WoW and The Dude said, “I’m glad you’re enjoying the game so much. I’m not going to say what G would say.”

“What would that have been?”

“You’re having fun wrong!”

We laughed together. Yep, that’s exactly what he would have said.

That poor, miserable, son of a bitch.

It’s not just early-twenties Friends With Issues that have this problem.

I’ve seen business owners throw the same you’re-doing-it-WRONG tantrum when their buyers find uses for their work they never expected, and when the buyers themselves are people they don’t expect.

Sometimes, this anger is justified: I know I’d be pissed and taking major action if a group of neo-Nazis decided to buy my products.

But most often it makes as much sense as G, and his belief that we were having fun wrong.

Are there ever times when you should insist that people are doing it wrong? Tell me in the comments.

photo by: Rad Jose