Writing advice from Lydia Davis

One of the things I love about Lydia Davis’s advice to writers in her collection Essays One is that she is explicit that the writer’s education should be mostly self-directed.

Here are points 2 and 3 in full:

2. Always work (note, write) from your own interest, never from what you think you should be noting or writing. Trust your own interest. I have a strong interest, at the moment, in Roman building techniques…. My interest may pass. But for the moment I follow it and enjoy it, not knowing where it will go.

Let your interest, and particularly what you want to write about, be tested by time, not by other people—either real other people or imagined other people.

This is why writing workshops can be a little dangerous, it should be said; even the teachers or leaders of such workshops can be a little dangerous; this is why most of your learning should be on your own. Other people are often very sure that their opinions and their judgments are correct.

3. Be mostly self-taught.

There is a great deal to be learned from programs, courses, and teachers. But I suggest working equally hard, throughout your life, at learning new things on your own, from whatever sources seem most useful to you. I have found that pursuing my own interests in various directions and to various sources of information can take me on fantastic adventures: I have stayed up till the early hours of the morning poring over old phone books; or following genealogical lines back hundreds of years; or reading a book about what lies under a certain French city; or comparing early maps of Manhattan as I search for a particular farmhouse. These adventures become as gripping as a good novel.

Education is not a race

Journaling tip

Whenever I open an unruled journal, I think of people who use the journals for rapid logging. Good rapid logging involves giving titles to every page and then numbering each page.

I try to annotate the titles into a text file, often into Google Keep. I normally have dates at the bottom of every page. And every page is numbered. I record the title and page number in a Table of Contents at the beginning of every notebook. It’s a bit tedious but keeps me organised.”


My first Leichtturm

In 10 years

“Aim to be great in 10 years.

Build health habits today that lead to a great body in 10 years.

Build social habits today that lead to great relationships in 10 years.

Build learning habits today that lead to great knowledge in 10 years.

Long-term thinking is a secret weapon.”

James Clear newsletter

Gut decisions

From James Clear 3-2-1 Thursday newsletter

Gut reactions are usually very wrong or very right.

They tend to be wrong when they are based purely on emotion and in domains where you lack experience. They tend to be right when they are rooted in deep understanding and well-developed taste.

Trust your gut when you have the experience to back it up.

As a consequence leaders must cede control to others, which means that simply working harder to close a given loop is no longer an option. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that leaders themselves don’t work hard or that they should be reluctant to hold others accountable. In my experience they do, and they should. [3] But “hard work” by a leader doesn’t mean “burning more hours” or “focusing intently on the problem.”

Leaders often have the most positive impact when they help build systems where the actions of a few powerful and magnificently skilled people matter least. Perhaps the best way to view leadership is as the task of architecting organizational systems, teams, and cultures–as establishing the conditions and preconditions for others to succeed. [4]


Open Loops (Leadership and Uncertainty)

Some writing advice

Many of the good writers you enjoy probably aren’t much smarter than you. They’ve just forced themselves through the process of transferring vague feelings into words and the clarity that generates. The takeaway for voracious readers is that you can discover new perspectives and new context by writing yourself.

Selfish writing

Great reminder

Learn slowly

The thing with fast food is that you can avail it quickly and when more people avail more food quickly, it soon becomes a commodity. And very often, fast food may just fill the stomach without nourishing much.

Apply above to learning. The easy access to information made it a commodity. Information should enhance our understanding knowledge and that take time.

On Learning Slowly – QAspire by Tanmay Vora

As a new manager

The biggest change in thinking, as a new manager, is that your best work is not you doing your best work. Your best work is creating an environment for others to do their best work.

You don’t think about, “Am I moving fast enough?”

Instead, you now contemplate, “Am I removing obstacles so my team can move fast enough?”

The mindset shift of a manager

Growth equation

To make the growth equation work for you

  • Pick an area of your life.
  • Reflect on where you currently are and where you want to be.
  • Think about whether you ought to be in a state of stress—taking on just-manageable challenges—or in a state of rest, recovery, and reflection.
  • Align your behavior accordingly.
  • Check in every few weeks, just like you would for any other training program, and evaluate your progress.

This Simple Equation Can Change Your Life

Why Journal

Most of us don’t write anymore in that sense. We are so caught up in the “busyness” of doing everyday things that we don’t take a step back to reflect. We don’t think about our lives enough, and that is perhaps one reason why we remain stuck.


The truth is that we have so much on our minds nowadays that we can’t afford not to write (to reflect). It’s not more time we need. Chances are the more things we have on our minds, the less we are doing anything about them.


Keeping a Journal | Dazné
https://dazne.net/journal/

One at a time

The counterintuitive insight from all of this research is that the best way to change your entire life is by not changing your entire life. Instead, it is best to focus on one specific habit, work on it until you master it, and make it an automatic part of your daily life. Then, repeat the process for the next habit.

The Scientific Argument for Mastering One Thing at a Time

So obvious but so difficult to apply.