Come For The Food, Stay For the Chest-Thumping To Be Over

Fluttering flag with an icon symbolising a laddu - Come For The Food, Stay For the Chest-Thumping To Be Over

I was lucky to go to the school I spent most of my childhood in. That experience taught me a lot about people and systems, what is important and just how much is unnecessary rubbish. This was not necessarily by their plan but rather by the existence of variety and circumstances which allowed me, the student, a wide exposure and enough lack of interference to come to my own conclusions. Set in the rocky hills of Muscat city, our then dust-ball playing field was very much at the centre of things and we’d all end up assembling there on occasions and days of note. The Indian Independence Day was one of those days.
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It’s Sexier To Follow Than To Fumble

Corporate zombie horde on an escalator vs a rock climber - It's Sexier To Follow Than To Fumble

We like to think we celebrate the brave and original thinkers and doers, but in truth we lionise the ones who follow in the footsteps of many and do something we’re comfortable with. People who we say are “doing very well” are usually the most entrenched in some system, whether corporate, social, or some personal cult.

We love stories of godfathers, and how some “big” man or woman lay a magic blessing on to a loved protégé, or maybe a curse upon a new rival, and how they “made it big”. Hell, as long as someone is following some well-worn path in their life, we’re willing to laud them as successful even before they achieve anything. On the flip side, someone doing something bold and new will always be looked on with scepticism, even after achieving a lot, and most of us are just waiting to smirk and say “I told you so” as soon as we see them falter.
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What Should You Do Today?

Calendar days - What Should You Do Today?

We’re a number obsessed bunch. 10 Things to Do Today To Make You a Better Person Before You’re 90 might have been a more attractive title for this, and may have gotten me more likes on Facebook. I could then feel very proud about the number of likes and brag about them to my non-existent cats. I have 3.14 of those. I could then have counted my comments, looked at engagement figures on all my social channels, fawned over the analytics data showing me how many people seemingly visited my site for my new article, and after all that I’m sure I’d have felt at least 57% better about myself, would have been 31% closer to completing my bucket list, would have 2% more followers on Twitter, and would have a 17.3% greater chance of happiness than the top 95 percentile of my peer group.

But I was never great with numbers, so I ask myself, and you, a more difficult question. What should you do today?
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Why are you writing for people who hate reading?

Leaky head - Why are you writing for people who hate reading?

Writing advice has changed over the centuries. In the beginning, which I’m arbitrarily choosing to be the invention of the modern novel, the audience was select and unusually literate. Writing advice at the time was very much about quality and the effect on the discerning reader. Let’s face it, when literacy is not a close-to-universal thing, quite a large number of your small readership is discerning or must pretend to be.

As the reading populace grew, the advice of writers, and to writers, changed. Now it wasn’t about impressing and wowing your readers, not about taking them to new adventures in language, it was now about holding their attention consistently. You wanted to make sure they stick to your book and not pick up that magazine, so temptingly distracting them on the table.

Writing advice now is a vastly different beast. It’s presented in more genteel terms and decorated with the support of convenient brain research and retail and marketing psychology, but at its core, writing advice today comes down to taking what you have to say and blending it down to a very fine and pasty protein shake. This product can then be gulped down, by what can now only be termed as content consumers, while providing the least risk of resistance from or effect on the consumer as possible, linguistically, culturally and intellectually. Today you’re advised to write for people who hate to read.
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How to calm your inner monologue in an unspecified number of confusing steps

Screaming heads - How to calm your inner monologue in an unspecified number of confusing steps

The easiest thing to write about is not writing. That is followed closely by wisdom about how to write. For the sake of ending my recent writing drought, I’m resorting to the former, with flourishes of the latter, if I still have it in me to pull off flourishes. We will see.

I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with time management and todo lists, but today I was writing into an informal one and I realised that several of my recent entries were ordering me to send emails to people. What struck me as bizarre is that if there’s one thing I’ve never needed prompting or motivation for over the years, it was writing people long emails. The long emails I am talking about were not even official or focussed. They used to be personal, human, rambling dialogues and musings that were sometimes universal and sometimes made sense to no one else but the recipient. These were theoretically more difficult and time consuming to write (well okay, they were practically time consuming too), but I’d churn them out on a regular basis and with joy.
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