I’ve been feeling a creative surge for a couple weeks now — I’ve rotated between lots of writing (essays, fables, newsletters), illustration, animation, programming and video production. It feels great, but I also know it’s a wave. Inevitably, it will drop back to sea level. I’m trying to make the most of it while it lasts. One way I’m doing that is by alternating between projects throughout the week. This tactic is part of the framework of a polymath mindset, which I try to embrace in almost every aspect of my life.
Rotating often means that I stop working on things before they are fully ‘done’. I’ll work on other stuff for a while, and come back later to finish and ship the earlier project. I’ll end up making small amounts of progress on lots of different things. When I return to a project after some time (days, weeks, or months), it feels like I’m working on something new, which energizes me. Also, I don’t have to start from scratch — I can pick up where I left off.
I absorb the energy of the new, and the wisdom of the old.
I do this because I know the wave doesn’t last. I suspect I’m not alone in the way I oscillate between lethargy and hyper-energy. Maybe you’re reading this right now feeling exhausted. Another day you might feel an energy boost. This ebb and flow is part of human nature. Life is lived between dualities.
To survive, we weather the storm. To thrive, we harness the surge.
Curating the Vibe
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been running some experiments on how I use Twitter, while also spending some time trying out Clubhouse. To my surprise, I discovered that my experiences between the two were inexplicably linked — the vibe I set in Twitter followed me over to the rooms I created in Clubhouse.
It all started with me feeling frustrated with Twitter due of lack of engagement. I felt like my tweets weren’t getting the interactions they used to. I missed my followers. This led to me making an active effort to tweet more consistently, and see whether it was an issue of effort or if the platform really was going silent. Overall, tweeting more often did the expected thing — more engagement, more momentum, and overall my Twitter experience improved.
But the experiments got more interesting when I got into Clubhouse. The app pitches itself as ‘drop-in audio chat’ — the benefits of participating in live discussions, but without the commitment of scheduling or the fatigue of video. The app is centered around ‘live podcasts’ — big celebrities talking in a panel-style discussion, with thousands of people listening in. I found some of these mildly interesting, but the novelty wore off quickly for me, and personally didn’t find them compelling enough to warrant many hours of my time. The best ones seem to end up recorded anyway, at which point you can listen them offline at any point (i.e. just like a podcast).
I got bored of the big rooms, so I scrolled, scrolled, and scrolled some more… all the way to the bottom of my feed. It was there that I discovered small rooms (typically between 2-5 people). I joined a few at random, and found myself participating (speaking) for the first time. It totally changed my experience. I loved this format, but also wished I could engage on topics I’m more passionate about (the small rooms I joined had pretty random topics).
That’s when it hit me — I was waiting for someone else to create the vibe I wanted, even though I held the power to create the vibe myself. I could create my own room, and set the vibe with conversations I moderated. I took the scary step of creating an open room. For the first few minutes, no one showed up. I felt anxious, and was about to give up and close the room, when a peer I knew from Twitter showed up. We ended up having an incredible discussion, on a wide-ranging set of topics from philosophy to creativity. Another peer later showed up, and I had a similar discussion with them that lasted over an hour. I closed the app that night feeling energized from several hours of deep conversations. None of them were planned — serendipity had delivered the goods.
I later realized that the discussions went the way they did because many of those folks had been following me on Twitter. They knew me, they were familiar with my ideas, and they shared many common interests. Every tweet I’ve sent over the years has contributed to a ‘vibe’, and my following is a collection of those who resonate with it. The power of my words on Twitter go far beyond the engagements on an individual tweet. They form a collective context, which compounds over time in the minds of those that read them. This same phenomenon applies to my essays, my newsletters, my videos, and my entire body of work. Word by word, tweet by tweet, essay by essay, newsletter by newsletter… I curate a vibe in the digital platforms I swim in.
I’m here to tell you: You can do it too! (You may already be.)
For most people, the biggest challenge in setting a vibe is being the one to speak up first. We wait for others to give us permission, hoping someone will prompt us with questions that we can answer. To that I say: Give yourself permission! Don’t wait for a prompt. Prompt yourself with the questions you wish you were asked. I promise you that someone out there wants to hear your answer. In fact, they’re out there right now, waiting to read your tweet and join your room. The only problem? You haven’t spoken up yet.
What are you waiting for? Vibe on, my friends!
P.S. If you want to see some live-as-they-happened accounts of these experiments, check out these Twitter threads: in which I pondered if Twitter was dead (it’s not), professed my love for small rooms on Clubhouse, and discovered the fruits of curating a vibe.
P.P.S I’m @daretorant on both Twitter and Clubhouse. Come vibe with me!
Building a Motivation Toolbelt
It’s tough to stay motivated. There’s no single tactic that always works to give us the boost we need, when we need it. Every situation requires a slightly different approach. But if we combine different tactics together, we can build our very own motivation toolbelt.
In this video, I share 7 motivation tools that have helped me: building consistent practice, adapting for personality, resting, managing energy, leveraging community feedback and accountability, and taking action to create a spark.
Recently, I drew Boba Fett for my nephew, as part of a project where I illustrate physical drawings for my family and friends’ kids. My niece is a big How to Train Your Dragon fan, so I decided to draw Toothless for her:
I had a lot of fun with this one! I started with HB pencil to outline, charcoals for the body and shape, colored pencils for the background, and paint markers to bring those beautiful eyes to life.
Until next time,