It’s hard to hear yourself think

Some related notes:

Exhortations which help: Get curious; Get bored; Get playful

Partial list of practices meant to produce deliberateness, receptivity

  • Wi-Fi defaults to off in the morning
  • Consistency in My daily routine
  • Reminding myself that The high-order bit for my productivity is whether I complete a deeply-focused morning creative block, recording/tracking whether that happens and the main blockers / helpers
  • Daily meditation
  • Simple, familiar background music
  • Lots of long walks, usually without audiobooks or podcasts
  • My notes (at least the important ones) contain mostly my own words (Literature notes are secondary and separate)
  • Weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual reflection and planning exercises
  • running on my phone while I work
  • Twitter, Mail, etc are not installed on my phone
  • runs from 7AM to 5PM, blocking Mail, the Twitter timeline, distracting web sites, etc
  • Answer email in batches, usually in the evening or when feeling low-energy
  • Usually accept at most one meeting per day, in a consistent afternoon slot, to protect my big working blocks

Deresiewicz, W. (2010, March 1). Solitude and Leadership. The American Scholar.

I find for myself that my first thought is never my best thought. My first thought is always someone else’s; it’s always what I’ve already heard about the subject, always the conventional wisdom. It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise. And often even that idea doesn’t turn out to be very good. I need time to think about it, too, to make mistakes and recognize them, to make false starts and correct them, to outlast my impulses, to defeat my desire to declare the job done and move on to the next thing.

Wanting - Luke Burgis

The prolific letter-writer and Trappist monk Thomas Merton noticed this was happening to him during his college years at Columbia University. Later in life, he wrote: “The true inner self must be drawn up like a jewel from the bottom of the sea, rescued from confusion, from indistinction, from immersion in the common, the nondescript, the trivial, the sordid, the evanescent.”

Thick desires are like diamonds that have been formed deep beneath the surface, nearer to the core of the Earth. Thick desires are protected from the volatility of changing circumstances in our lives. Thin desires, on the other hand, are highly mimetic, contagious, and often shallow.

Andrew Sutherland on his project (2022-09 Fey Computer Festival): “My computer is full of other people’s thoughts.” (later): “I want to turn down the volume on other people’s thoughts.”

Last updated 2023-07-13.