Potential reactions

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

potential reactions

From playwright Sarah Ruhl’s terrific book, 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time To Write:

Recently, my son said to me after seeing a ballet on television: “It’s beautiful but I don’t like it.” And I thought, Are many grown-ups capable of such a distinction? It’s beautiful, but I don’t like it. Usually, our grown-up thinking is more along the lines of: I don’t like it, so it’s not beautiful. What would it meant to separate those two impressions for art making and for art criticism?

See also: “Borrow a kid

10 things I learned while writing my last book

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

working in the garage

My third book Show Your Work! came out a year ago. I kept a diary while writing the book, but it’s too painful and embarrassing to share in full. So here’s a list of lessons I learned while writing it, adapted from a series of tweets

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The So What? Test

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

The So What Test

The act of sharing is one of generosity—you’re putting something out there because you think it might be helpful or entertaining to someone on the other side of the screen.

I had a professor in college who returned our graded essays, walked up to the chalkboard, and wrote in huge letters: “SO WHAT?” She threw the piece of chalk down and said, “Ask yourself that every time you turn in a piece of writing.”

It’s a lesson I never forgot.

Always be sure to run everything you share with others through The “So What?” Test. Don’t overthink it; just go with your gut.

If you’re unsure about whether to share something, let it sit for 24 hours. Put it in a drawer and walk out the door. The next day, take it out and look at it with fresh eyes. Ask yourself, “Is this helpful? Is it entertaining? Is it something I’d be comfortable with my boss or my mother seeing?”

There’s nothing wrong with saving things for later. The SAVE AS DRAFT button is like a prophylactic—it might not feel as good in the moment, but you’ll be glad you used it in the morning.

This post is an excerpt from my book, Show Your Work!

Interview on the Stacking Benjamins podcast

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

After citing Steal Like An Artist as his major influence in the Inc. profile,How Did An Average Joe Get an Award Winning Podcast? He Stole It,” Joe Saul-Sehy invited me to be a guest on the podcast. We had a nice conversation about side hustles, organization, flow, money, and a bunch of other stuff.

Listen here. (Our conversation starts at 16:00.)

How will I pay the bills?

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

be useful

This mini-rant was originally posted on Twitter, but people really responded to it, so I’m archiving it here.

“How will I pay the bills?” is a perfectly reasonable question from a young person, worth a thoughtful answer.

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The work goes on

Monday, February 9th, 2015


Judith brought this newspaper clipping to the little book release party my wife threw for me after my first book came out. An artist herself, she blacked out the caption of the photograph to read: “create more a    r  t.”

I had it hanging on my bulletin board for a few years, then took it down and threw it in a box when I moved my office out to the garage.

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Borrow a kid

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

owen at the umlauf sculpture garden

If you have a child of two or three, or can borrow one, let her give you beginning lessons in looking.
—Corita Kent and Jan Steward, Learning By Heart

This weekend we visited the Umlauf Sculpture Garden here in Austin. Towards the end of our visit, I spent at least half an hour at the very edge of the garden with my back to the beautiful art and scenery, watching the cars whiz by on Robert E. Lee Road.

Going to an art museum with a two-year-old will make you rethink what’s interesting and what’s art. (After all, what are cars but fast, colorful, kinetic sculptures?) This, of course, should be the point of museums: to make us look closer at our everyday life as a source of art and wonder.

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How to stay alive

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

how to stay alive

Things can get tricky when you turn the thing you love into the thing that keeps you clothed and fed. Proceed with caution.

Interview with James Victore

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

James Victore came by the garage and interviewed me for his Burning Questions series. In the Show Your Work! spirit, he posted our interview unedited. Watch it here.

Interview with Unmistakable Creative

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

If you have an hour to kill, I had a nice chat with Srinivas Rao on his Unmistakable Creative podcast. Srinivas said listeners had been requesting me for a while, so I was more than happy to disappoint them be invited.

Among the many topics we discussed: why I found my best work after I left school and what one should to do with an audience once they show up.

Listen here. [53 minutes, MP3]

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