Creators' Corner #36 - Begin Again
Hey everyone 👋. I'm John. Welcome to Creators' Corner: a place where I write about my corporate-to-creator journey and share tips on writing and creating visuals. Here's the previous edition of the newsletter if you missed it. Today is (mostly) about training ourselves to begin again.
On Beginning Again
I've been meditating on and off for well over five years now.
I still remember receiving Tim Ferris's book Tools of Titans from a friend on my 26th birthday.
I skipped through all the tips on ice baths, building muscle, and making more money, but one thing caught my attention: over 80% of the hyper-successful people Tim interviewed meditated on a daily basis.
This was intriguing. Was this just blind luck? Correlation or causation? I was prepared to find out.
I first downloaded Headspace, which gave me a great intro to guided meditation. I especially enjoyed the course on creativity & visualization. (Little did I know that I would go on to write a newsletter for creators and create a community around visualization a few years later.)
I wanted to go a level deeper into mindfulness training. This is when I came across Sam Harris's Waking Up app. What I like about Sam is that he explains the theory behind meditation and the reasons why it’s good for us. And then he would say you shouldn't meditate only because it's good for you (mindfuck).
He goes on to explain meditation is much more meaningful than all its surface-level benefits. The difference between recognising your thoughts and being controlled by thought is equivalent to the difference between being able to read and being illiterate. Yikes! Either you are aware of the power of thought or you aren’t. Like sitting on the side of the river versus being swept away by the current.
So, what's the coolest thing about meditation? For me, it has to be training yourself to begin again.
The ideal meditative state is to let thoughts arise without diving down each rabbit hole (or becoming ‘identified’ with thought as Sam calls it). After some training, you realize a thought is basically the same as a sound outside or an itch in your body – some fleeting sensation that you can recognize and let go of. When you end up going down a rabbit hole on one of your thoughts, which inevitably happens, mindfulness training can you help you snap out of it.
Effectively, you learn to begin again. Meditation allows you to reset your focus on your breath and your surroundings instead of constantly being sucked into thinking about that thing that happened at the office today or why she isn’t texting you back.
This attitude of beginning again can flow through to the rest of your life:
- Not enjoying the conversation you’re having? Begin again with a new topic.
- Going through the motions at the gym? Begin again and make the most of the remaining sets.
- Not having a good time at a party? Try to find something fun to do.
- Not being productive on your laptop? Reset and commit to focusing for the next 45min.
What's done is done. You cannot live in the past or dream about the future. You only have this moment. There is no reason why you can’t start over and make it better.
If you ever find yourself messing around or not being mindful, take a breath and remind yourself to begin again.
CV4W Guest Lecture with Elizabeth Edwards
On the 8th of February, Angie Wang and I hosted the 2nd event of our Creating Visuals for Writing (CV4W) Guest Series: Analyze your Drawings with Elizabeth Edwards.
Elizabeth is an artist, architect, writer, and museum enthusiast who writes excellent art analysis threads on Twitter.
During the session, she taught us 3 fundamental principles that historic artists used to create visual flow in their paintings: the rule of thirds, chiaroscuro (an Italian term which means 'light-dark’) and complementary colours:
In addition to art schooling us, she gave a masterclass in facilitation. Using the Zoom annotation function, we were all encouraged to draw on the screen while she presented, creating an interactive experience. She also “hot-seated” me and some other students, taking some of our drawings and making suggestions for where we could improve them.
You can watch the recording and see Elizabeth's incredible slides (believe me, you want to) here. And you can read Elizabeth’s take on the session here.
P.S. Good news! We have our next live event lined up. On the 8th of March, we are joined by writer and graphic artist Leslie Kim, who will take us through her visual design process and show us how to merchandise our own designs (!).
Sign up below if you'd like to learn more about design & merchandising:
📚 Book: East of Eden by John Steinbeck (1952). What an incredible, rich, entertaining story set in the US at the turn of the 20th century. Previously I read The Grapes of Wrath, which I found excellent, if somewhat angry. East of Eden is pure poetry, with magnificent philosophical debates and a good amount of humour and irony. Steinbeck also describes it as his greatest work. More books like this one in 2023, please! Favourite quote:
"And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual."
📅 App: Onrise habit tracker. In the spirit of beginning again, I've searched for a reliable habit tracker. Onrise is one of the best I've seen so far - simple, clean and free. It's time to get solid on writing again.
👖 Pants (yeah, you read that right): the Lululemon ABCs or Anti-Ball Crushers (you also read that right). First heard about them from YouTuber and online creator Ali Abdaal. The perfect pants for when you have to look smart but feel like wearing sweatpants. Haven't gotten out of mine yet.
✨ Tweet: Charlotte with a friendly reminder that we always have something to share. The trick is to "show up even when you don't feel you have anything to say".
Until next time, happy creating! Here’s to beginning again.
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