I’m Salman Ansari, and this is 🦊 Quick Brown Fox — a weekly newsletter on unlocking creativity and building self-awareness.
I hope you’re doing well and staying safe. This week I share lessons on trusting my process, new notes on tools for writing, mesmerizing art, and some fun links. Have a wonderful Friday!
Trust The Process
I've been chipping away at editing the short story I’m working on. It's taking a lot longer than I expected — I'm really humbled by the process. Every line in the story is an opportunity to explore a new world in the story universe. The possibilities are limitless, and sometimes this can be overwhelming. But it’s also a lot of fun. I’m always excited to get back to editing the story, which is a great sign. My process so far goes something like this:
Take long walks, meditate, leave empty space in my days, and wait…
Eventually, an idea shows up (usually late at night, just before bed)
Edit the story to incorporate the newfound inspiration
Things are moving along, but it feels a bit slow*. I started to wonder how much easier it would be if I just had days full of dedicated hours to work on these stories… But thinking about it more, I’m not sure more time would actually help. We always think we need more time because we have this idea in our minds that every process can become faster and more efficient. But some things cannot be rushed. They will take the time that they take.
Even if I had all the time in the world, that wouldn't necessarily make it easier to do the work. For one thing, there’d be a lot more room for my inner critic to show up. I've been reading Still Writing by Dani Shapiro, and her words articulated this point wonderfully:
Sometimes, it's those perfect circumstances that can be the most oppressive. In another life—before motherhood—I spent months at a time at artists' colonies-those bucolic faraway places where lunch is dropped off at your cabin in the woods, and silence is the rule during daytime hours. Composers, painters, sculptors, poets, novelists all living and breathing their work.
I remember the difficulty I always had, settling into an ideal work environment. Especially if I'd headed off into the woods to attempt something new. In the endless quiet, my inner censor's voice grew louder.
Sometimes we're better off with just enough time. Or even not enough time.
We have to trust our process. We have to trust ourselves. Pressure and deadlines can yield results in the short term, but it burns us out in the long term.
A sustainable relationship with our creative self must be built on trust.
*: It’s worth unpacking my statement that “it feels a bit slow”. Why does it feel slow? Slow compared to what? In reality, this isn’t an assessment based on fact. It’s not like there is a speedometer of writing speed, and I’m going way below the speed limit. No, this is a story my Ego is feeding me. The Ego loves to tell stories — often it tells the same ones repeatedly. As a result, we hear the same criticisms of ourselves play out in our minds over and over again. I’m learning more about how to recognize Ego stories, and how to better handle them. I’ll be coming back to this topic in future writings…
Last week I shared some lessons on writing gleaned from the book The Science of Storytelling. If you missed it, you can now access them as a note on my digital garden:
I've also refreshed my Writing Guide with a number of updates, so be sure to check it out while you're perusing the garden:
Included in the guide is a post I had a lot of fun researching: The Art of Persuasion. In this essay, I described how Aristotle's three appeals of persuasion could be used to bring writing to life. The intent of this framework is not to dictate the writing process, but to provide inspiration for what kinds of ingredients you can include in your work to help it resonate with readers. It's another writing tool to add to your tool belt.
Animator Creating Animation — This short animation is so creative, so meta, and so much fun to watch.
Death to Bullshit — “We're bombarded by more information than ever before. With the rise of all this information comes a rise of the amount of bullshit we're exposed to. Death to Bullshit is a rallying cry to rid the world of bullshit and demand experiences that respect people and their time.” I love the sentiment behind this site. Between endless popups, GDPR notices, ads and other distractions, reading articles has become such a hassle these days. (If you do check out the link, don’t miss the bullshit toggle button on the top right…)
Text-Only NPR — Had to include this in the spirit of the previous link! I’m in love with this site. It’s so simple, clean and informative. I added it to my Home Screen on my phone and check it a couple of times throughout the day. Once I do, I feel completely caught up on the most important news, which really helps me reduce doom-scrolling on social media.
Mesmerized by these stunning illustrations from Ollie Hirst. Their vibrancy and color comes through so well, as well as the passion for expression of the human body:
Illustration makes me tick. Though it’s not the only thing that does. I’m a cardiac pacemaker patient. So, whilst I put my heart into drawing, it gets help from time to time. I have a natural affinity to science and the human body, but I tend to just love subjects that resonate in the real world. I like my work to hinge on a strong idea and the concept usually drives it, helped by a splash of colour.
Thanks for reading! I really appreciate your time and attention. If you enjoyed this post, do me a favor and share it with a friend ✌🏽
Until next time,