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The Hazards of Serious Writing

As a small child, I loved Saturday morning cartoons.  Not any particular cartoon. Not the content. Just the idea of cartoons. Among the cartoons there is one whose name I won’t mention as one of the major people involved has been since “Canceled” and I don’t know how to navigate all of that without it my mentioning their name being a distraction.

This bothers me in many ways but is a topic for a longer more serious piece.

The tagline for the cartoon was something like “If you’re not careful, you might end up learning something.”

If you’re not careful, you might end up learning something.

I’ve previously written on how writing non-fiction can interfere with sleep. Turns out that sleep loss is not the only hazard of serious writing. Learning is another hazard. Perhaps two hazards. The hazards of learning about the world and the hazards of learning about ourselves. The latter, at least for me, begins with learning humility. I wrote a draft about Zero Inbox Ping Pong as the first article in my Productivity Fairy Tales series and confidently wrote about how Zero Inbox couldn’t work and how I had seen no discussion of this anywhere. Perhaps the better word is arrogantly rather than merely confidently.

I hadn’t actually looked for any discussion

After a little bit of thought, but before publishing, I realized that 1) I should probably be claiming something about my being unable to make it work for my use case and 2) that I hadn’t actually looked for any discussion.

It quickly became apparent that I was using it improperly, had not understood it at all, that my inability to make it work was a symptom of a larger problem in how I did things, and most of all that that despite failing for a very long time, I hadn’t bothered to look for help; I hadn’t even done a google search.

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Photo by <a href=httpsunsplashcomcaiqueportraitsutm source=wordpress instant imagesutm medium=referralutm source=wordpress instant imagesutm medium=referral>Caique Silva<a> on <a href=httpsunsplashcomutm source=wordpress instant imagesutm medium=referral>Unsplash<a>

The last of these is more damning than it sounds. For years, I have been routinely providing solutions that actually work to solve long-standing important problems in the lives of others and the companies they run. My feeling superior from it is not as fine.

Perhaps a beneficial effect of serious writing will be to cure me of such hubris.

But probably will require a lot more writing.

The hope that I might achieve hubris reduction from a single such experience is itself the height of hubris.

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Written by Russell Brand

Russell has started three successful companies, one of which helped agencies of the federal government become very early adopters of open source software, long before that term was coined. His first project saved The American taxpayer 250 million dollars. In his work within federal agency, he was often called, “the arbiter of truth,” facilitating historically hostile groups and factions to effectively work together towards common goals


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