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Writing

<Brennen> IdeaLogging. You could see also TrackingWriters.

PeterNorvig, from Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years:

:Researchers (Hayes, Bloom) have shown it takes about ten years to develop expertise in any of a wide variety of areas, including chess playing, music composition, painting, piano playing, swimming, tennis, and research in neuropsychology and topology. There appear to be no real shortcuts: even Mozart, who was a musical prodigy at age 4, took 13 more years before he began to produce world-class music. In another genre, the Beatles seemed to burst onto the scene with a string of #1 hits and an appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964. But they had been playing small clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg since 1957, and while they had mass appeal early on, their first great critical success, ''Sgt. Peppers'', was released in 1967. Samuel Johnson thought it took longer than ten years: "Excellence in any department can be attained only by the labor of a lifetime; it is not to be purchased at a lesser price." And Chaucer complained "the lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne."

"The lyf so short". I think there's something to this. Being good at most things, let alone attaining any kind of mastery, requires concentrated effort over time.

I'm 26 years old. What am I good at? What have I practiced in any useful way for a decade or more?

Let's be honest. I'm no great shakes as a hacker or a sysadmin, but I could easily enough make a living at this game. Eventually I would even make good money, by any reasonable standard. I'm just damned if I can remember why I would ever have wanted to do this with my life. These aren't the accidental consequences of a teenaged obsession that I want now, if I ever did.

Which, out of ''all two things'' I know how to do, leaves writing.


GeorgeMonbiot, Choose Life:

:So my final piece of advice is this: when faced with the choice between engaging with reality or engaging with what Erich Fromm calls the "necrophiliac" world of wealth and power, choose life, whatever the apparent costs may be. Your peers might at first look down on you: poor Nina, she’s twenty-six and she still doesn’t own a car. But those who have put wealth and power above life are living in the world of death, in which the living put their tombstones - their framed certificates signifying acceptance to that world - upon their walls. Remember that even the editor of the Times, for all his income and prestige, is still a functionary, who must still take orders from his boss. He has less freedom than we do, and being the editor of the Times is as good as it gets.

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last edited January 2, 2008