Anson's Notes App


Advice I Follow

From friends, fables, and figures

I imagine the human mind as made of a billion little sliding scales. Advice picks out a specific axis, and nudges in the opposite direction that you're currently going. Some of these may not feel like tactical action pieces, but I think everything becomes advice in due time. These are a few pieces I subscribe to.

On Taste

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It's gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You've just gotta fight your way through. -Ira Glass

Some things are like that—they strike you as repugnant for instinctive reasons, probably having to do with your culture and the way you were raised. The French word “gauche” comes to mind, but I preferred the Hebrew word “treyf.” Literally, it means not kosher, but I also use it to describe things like cars, bars, strip clubs, guns, dogs, rock-n-roll, and football games. Things that are treyf, you avoid, not because you hate them per se, but because in avoiding them you keep yourself from becoming like the people you hate. -Aaron Cometbus

When art critics get together they talk about Form and Structure and Meaning. When artists get together they talk about where you can buy cheap turpentine. – Picasso

On Living

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. -Annie Dillard

In this world Elwood, you must be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant well for years I was smart... I recommend pleasant -Elwood P. Dowd

When you hate the world, you need to eat. When you think the world hates you, you need to sleep” -Liam Hinzman

Every action you take is a vote for the person you want to be -James Clear

Have pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will. -Antonio Gramsci

We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons. - Jim Rohn through Chris

On Work

When writing in public, there is a common idea that you should make it accessible. This is a left over from mass media. Words addressed to a large and diverse set of people need to be simple and clear and free of jargon. It is valuable to write clearly of course, to a degree. Clear writing is clear thinking. But to make the content accessible? To cut digressions and obscure references to reduce the number of things people need to understand to make sense of your argument? Really? That is against our purposes here. A blog post is a search query. You write to find your tribe; you write so they will know what kind of fascinating things they should route to your inbox. - Henrik Karlsson

What any person in the world can learn, almost all persons can learn if provided with appropriate prior and current conditions of learning. -Benjamin Bloom

Working hard at the process and being relaxed about the outcome are NOT contradictory -Unknown

If you get all the things you apply for, you are not being ambitious enough -Lucas Wang

Betting that hard on anything but yourself is a BAD play. -Joss Murphy

Plans are useless but planning is everything, saying yes requires saying no, be radically candid, and ship the MVP. -Some guy on a Zoom call

Sometimes magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect - Teller, by way of Neil

You get paid for the seven and a half hours a day you put in but you get your raises and promotions on what you do in the other sixteen and a half hours – The Idea factory (Bell Labs), by way of Neil

Everything a manager assigns is something they have done before, and is willing to do again -Hongwei Liu