How I currently operate:
literal scratch paper → for “scratch work” (aid to conversation, doing computation for an assignment). Thrown away
notebooks → non-sacred capture ideas and grow/workshop as felt. Not thrown away
shortform → collection of the smallest version of ideas/concepts/insights that recently crystalized for me
post → worked on idea/tool/frame that I’m either using myself, or want others to know about (on LW or my own blog depending on relevancy to LW)
As I am now, I have my own groove with how I self organize developing ideas, and it’s not very intelligible (partially because I very much write to myself). So there’s a decent gap between whatever I’m thinking about and working on, and what I output. Currently, I wouldn’t use a scratch pad (off the cuff, developing ideas, looking for others to chime in) much, but I also note that this is EXACTLY the sort of thing I’ve always wanted (have a bunch of interesting friends to always be bouncing ideas of, and low barrier to entry / shared context makes casual communication still effective)
Thoughts on writing (I’ve been spending the 4 hours every morning the last week working on Hazardous Guide to Words):
Feedback is about figuring out stuff you didn’t already know. I wrote the first draft of HGTW a month ago, and I wrote it in “Short sentences that convince me personally that I have a coherent idea here”. When I went to get feedback from some friends last week, I’d forgotten that I’d hadn’t actually worked to make it understandable, and so most of the feedback was “this isn’t understandable”.
Almost always if I get bogged down when writing it’s because I’m trying to “do something justice” instead of “do what I want”. “Where is the meaning?” started as “oh, I’ll just paraphrase Hofstadter’s view of meaning”. The first example I thought was to talk about how you can draw too much meaning from things, and look at claims of the pyramids predicting the future. I got bogged down righting those examples, because “what can lead you to think meaning is there when it’s not?” was not really what I was talking about, nor was it what I needed to talk about language. It is interesting though.
I’m getting better at noticing the feeling of being part way through an explanation and going “oh shit, this is wrong/not the right frame/isn’t congruent with the last chapter/doesn’t build to where I want”. There have been times in the past when I thought that feeling was just pesky perfectionism.
Having an explicit purpose for each post is crazy helpful for deciding what does and doesn’t go in.
I’m hap-hazardously growing more of a process with writing. I’ve currently got an outline of the refactored version of HGTW with thought given to building concepts in the right order. Now I’m going down the outline and making the required posts.
I’ve started heading each post with a one-two sentences for me describing what the purpose of this post is. I then try to outline the post, and when I’m done or if I get stuck, I just start trying to write it out. This is “get it all out” don’t even worry about connecting sentences, bail mid paragraph and start again. Rn I’m going on gut for switching in between outlining and orging and writing in between content. I’m getting much better on ditching stuff that I liked if I don’t think it serves the purpose.
Oh, I’m also writing on work cycles (pomodoros with sprinkles). Breaks are stretching and staring out he window, great for not destroying my eyes and keeping my body from shriveling up and dying.
Stricter sense of audience
Or in the reverse framing, stricter sense of “this is my style and I’m sticking to it”
More intentionally entrain “purpose driven” writing?
Triggers: I’m getting bored. It feels hard to write. I have written anything in a minute. All my phrasings sound fake.
Action: “Aha! Friction, I noticed, thank you brain. Why was I trying to write that? Why does it feel weird? If this doesn’t really matter, what does? I’ve I gotten to what matters yet?”
Can I productively work on writing in shorter chunks f time, or do can I really only do stuff in 3 1⁄2 hour chunks?
Yeah, this seems pretty important given that I want to continue writing all through the next semester/year/life.
I think it might be more useful to have more concrete mental buckets for stages of writing.
When I’m doing 6 cycles in a day, I start each cycle like “Cool, time to [clarify the middle section]” as opposed to “write more”. It might be the case that “working on that blog post” might be to fuzzy to come to every day.
End each cycle by writing down the next step
Maybe a different mentality. In a given cycle, don’t try to connect all the dots. Just explain a few dots. After a few days of having made some dots, then i might be able to connect them in one day.
Could part of this be paraphrased as “If you don’t address meeting people’s needs equally, they won’t be able to work on pure product without it secretly being about their needs”?
In my freshman fall of university, I realized I was incredibly judgmental of myself and felt I should be capable of everything. I “dealt with it” and felt less suffering and self-loathing/judgment in the following months year. I more or less thought I had “learned how to stop being so harsh on myself.”
Now I see that I never reduced the harshness. What I did was convince my fear/judgement/loathing to use a new rubric for grading me. I did a huge systems, successfully started a shit ton of habits, and build a much better ability to focus. It was as if to say “See? Look at this awesome plan I have! Yes, I implicitly buy into the universe where it’s imperative I do [all the shit]. All I ask is that you give me time. This plan is great and I’ll totally be able to do [all the stuff], just not right now.”
I was fused with the judgement enough that I wasn’t able to question it, only negotiate with it for better terms. The penalty for failure was still “feel like a miserable piece of shit”.
I now have a much better sense of what lead to this fear and judgement being built up in the first place, and that understanding has lead to not doing [all the stuff] feel more like “a less cool world than others” and not “hell, complete with eternal torment and self-loathing”
Collecting some recent observations from some self study:
Something I noticed about what I take certain internal events to mean:
Over the past 4 years I’ve had trouble being in touch with “what I want”. I’ve made a lot of progress in the past year (a huge part was noticing that I’d previously intentionally cut off communication with the parts of me that want).
Previously when I’d ask “what do I want right now?” I was basically asking, “What would be the most edifying to my self-concept that is also doable right now?”
So I’ve managed to stop doing that a lot. Last week, I noticed that “what do I want to do right now?” or “do I want to do X right now?” turns into “am I immediately able to think of interesting parts of X? Are parts of X already loaded into my mind and my brain is working on it?”
Noticing this is super helpful. Basically I was asking “am I already working on X in my head?” and then deciding to work on it explicitly. Consequences of this: If what I was working on in the morning wasn’t met with hard road blocks, I’d feel that I’d want to just do that thing for the whole day, and that switching would be “betraying my wants”. If I did hit a road block, or my mind was just DONE with the first task of the day, then I could switch.
On the opposite side, if I thought of an activity, and it didn’t immediately boot up the relevant and interesting parts, then I’d take that as “I don’t want to do this” or “Oh, I guess that feels boring right now.”
Now I can work on better predicting “If I did start doing this, how much would I like it?” and I don’t have to implicitly rely only on “Am I already working on it?”
“If we’re all so good at fooling ourselves, why are we all happy?”
The zealot is only “fooling themselves” from the perspective of the “rational” outsider. The zealot has not fooled themselves. They have looked at the world and their reasoning processes have come to the clear and obvious conclusion that . They have gri-gri, and it works.
But it seems like most of us are much better at fooling ourselves than we are at “happening to use the full capacity of our minds to come to false and useful conclusions”. We have belief in belief. It’s possible to work this into almost as strong of a fortress as the zealot, but it is more precarious.
Yeah, that seems to be the main theme of the feedback I’ve gotten. I’m working on V2 and it’s shaping up to be a lot more sensical and cohesive. Thanks for the feedback, and stay tuned!
Thanks! A comment like this is useful for me for knowing if my ideas are landing or not.
This is a very useful frame! Is the blog on Leverage Research’s cite where most of there stuff is, or would I go somewhere else if I wanted to read about what they’ve been up to?
(tid bit from some recent deep self examination I’ve been doing)
I incurred judgment-fueled “motivational debt” by aggressively buying into the idea “Talk is worthless, the only thing that matters is going out and getting results” at a time where I was so confident I never expected to fail. It felt like I was getting free motivation, because I saw no consequences to making this value judgment about “not getting results”.
When I learned more, the possibility of failure became more real, and that cannon of judgement I’d built swiveled around to point at me. Oops.
Also found this chain interesting. Thanks!
Funny how often it pops up. I think the general concept of mindfulness also points to the same thing (or similar), but the cognitive fusion frame has made it easier for me to see the self reinforcing loops of “trying to defuse from a belief when said belief is the motivation for the defusal”.
I also think that current anti-attention asking norms came from Elephant in the brain esque anti-competition norms (the extreme version of everyone always being approved to ask for attention seems makes me think of dystopian future advertising, where the front of my house is plastered in adds).
Also agreeing with Benito that 1v1 long term relationship is a scenario I don’t want people to be penalized when asking for attention.
(speaking as someone who has been into magic as a hobby and as a part time job)
Instead of listing some magic resources, I’ll try to point out some things that might lead you to giving up magic prematurely.
A very common beginning magic experience is to learn the secret to some tricks and feel like “There’s nooooo way this bullshit will ever fool anyone.” You will especially feel this about some of the strongest/boldest misdirection based effects. This can lead to either never performing magic for people, or strong magician’s guilt that leads to fumbling magic tricks. Magician’s guilt is when your “this is so obvious, I’m going to be caught and it’s going to be horrible” monologue manifests itself in body language grossly enough for a spectator to go, “They just did something weird. I don’t know what it was, but something fishy happened.” Really, it’s super hard to predict what will and won’t fool people. You’ve got to do go out and perform for people a lot and see what works.
Magician quip: “Amateurs know 100 tricks. Real pros know about 6.”
The pattern this quote is pointing to is that new magicians are normally only performing for a small pool of friends and family. People start to catch on after a week of being shown the same trick again and again (or they get fed up with it). This causes a lot of beginners to move onto new magic tricks before they ever really master what they were just working on. If you interested in building skill, be on the look out for settings that allow you to perform the same trick a lot of times. In high school I did a “Magic Wednesday” where once a week I’d pick one trick and perform it for 8 different groups in a day. This helps you learn much faster than performing 8 different effects for one group.
A general practice mantra is “Practice until you can do it perfect in front of a mirror, practice until you can do it perfect with patter, then the real fun practice begins of doing it in front of people.”