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Friday
Nov112016

key to practical polymathy

I've long been interested in polymathy and written about it here and for Aeon magazine. I found though that the subject is both engaging and elusive, it sort of slips through your fingers. People like the concept of polymathy but then think 'what next'. Today i realised the thing holding people back is a fear of learning something new. For whatever reason. Often they have ceased to give themselves permission to learn something new (reasons being - too old, too busy, not talented etc). My breakthrough is Micromastery- because it- ABOVE ALL ELSE- restores the permission to be interested in whatever you want. It restores the permission to learn. Anyway after that trumpet burst I just want to remind the loyal readers out there the book is coming out in May courtesy of penguin books...

Thursday
Oct272016

how does a writer learn?

I used to think a writer learned from other writers by reading a lot and thinking a bit about things after he had read them. I don't think so now. Most books just pass you by.You work out how they 'work'- and that is something, but this is no use to you as a writer, only as a critic. A writer is someone who can write books, not tell you what is wrong with other people's books. In fact several writers I know who are excellent at their trade and successful to boot haven't much of a CLUE what makes a good story or book- but that doesn't matter- they know how to make one.

Bak to learning - you learn instantly from something you admire and are open to. That works, you tell yourself, I'm going to copy that. Of course when you copy it no one can tell because every half decent writer learns early on how to cover their tracks pretty well. But that's the way- BANG- instant knowledge when you SEE something that is right for YOU. Not every book is, but when you find the ones that are, copy mercilessly.

Monday
Oct242016

habits and mountains

Climbing a high mountain it's tempting to run on ahead, rest and run on. And if you are in the lead this seems to work. But when it gets very high the recovery time becomes inordinately long. You start getting overtaken by the tortoises who's rule of travel is 'never go faster than the pace you can keep up forever without stopping'. Climb a flight of stairs in bounds and you'll be exhausted fast. Climb it by making a single step, bringing the second foot to the same step and then making another, bringing the second foot to the same step and so on - and you'll be able to climb forever.

Habits that you can't maintain forever eventually require so much recovery time the more temperate folk begin to overtake you. If you plan on keeping going the right habit is the one you can keep going with every day of your life.

Andy Warhol said, probably flippantly, 'do everything either every day or once'. Lot of sense in that.

Saturday
Oct222016

course in scotland for writers

I am teaching with Jason Webster a course on the secrets of story writing and story making for novels, screenplays and short stories

20th- 25th NOVEMBER 2016 Wigtown Scotland

This is the real deal- we teach how to generate great new material not merely edit or critique existing stuff

We do not do lame read-throughs of Casablanca itemising plot points

We teach you how to connect to the ether to mainline the incredible wealth of story material waiting to be used!

We teach the importance of relationships over character

We teach the importance of submission and domination over 'conflict'

We'll show you how to plot effortlessly by stacking the initial idea in your favour

Join us for an incredible £250 course...

 

http://www.wigtownbookfestival.com/opportunities

any questions email robtwigger (at) g.mail.com

Wednesday
Sep212016

engineers and buzzards

It's a bit silly to try and divide the world into two kinds of people- but here goes.

Everyone has a bit of the engineer in them and a bit of the buzzard. Sometimes you get pure buzzard and pure engineer, but most people are a mix. The engineer part achieves a flow state (a psychological state where some kind of challenge is fully matched by ones skills to meet it, leaving one entranced and fully 'in the moment') by finding a problem, a real problem with a physical dimension, a demonstrable and obvious problem- and using all his skills- solving it. Solving the problem may require some, even a great deal of, imagination but imgaination is a tool, a means, not an end.

A buzzard achieves a flow state by getting a buzz from ideas and imagination. 'What if?' the buzzard thinks and he's away. Buzzards can leap over buildings and any obstacles. Buzzards can defy time and aging, they can imagine living for a 1000 years and being known by every person on the planet. Sometimes a crazy idea by a buzzard actually solves a problem that an engineer has framed. The buzzard gets sudden fame.

When an engineer gets a bit of buzzard in him he tries to solve every single thing that is framed as a 'problem' in the world using only the tools he knows. He comes a cropper.

When a buzzard gets a bit of engineer in them they let their minds soar and imagine problems and solutions that do not and could never exist.

Both buzzards and engineers suffer a common delusion- they believe all problems can be solved.

The secret is- don't let them mix. Use the buzzard to escape the earthbound trap and see things differently. Use the engineer to solve real and demonstrable problems. Asking whether something is really a problem, whether it makes sense to frame it thus as a problem, whether the real problem might lie elsewhere, whether, having framed the problem, it might be insoluble all these are things that you need to think about before you let the buzzard or the engineer loose.

Tuesday
Sep202016

tomorrow's thoughts

When tomorrow comes, think tomorrow's thoughts.

proverb

Sunday
Sep182016

The sixth law of adventure

The Sixth Law: set out without knowing where you will sleep that night.

In keeping with the somewhat carefree nature of my choice of seven laws of adventure- the sixth is the most important law of all and a direct steal from Reinhold Messner who considered, after a lifetime of arguably unparalled adventure that it took him thirty years to realise the essence of adventure was exchanging the familiar hearth for a sleeping place that was unknown at the day's start. This is why hitching can be the ultimate adventure and an ascent of Everest not be. On Everest every camp site- if things go well- is preprogrammed. With a hitching trip - nothing is programmed. On well organised expeditions the adventure starts when there is a cock-up or accident. A good expedition is fun alright but it may lack...adventure.

To set off, knapsack on back, no money in the pocket and no knowledge of where you will kip that night- but a goal of sorts in mind- now that is an adventure!

Of course, the remoter the spot, the more 'unknown' the sleeping site will be. I have found that there is nothing quite like being super remote from the rest of humanity. Sleeping rough on the edge of civilisation has its own feral charm and edginess, but choosing a campsite in a place where the next human is 200km away, that is special indeed.