A Tale Of Two Authors (And Self Improvement For Anyone)

Back when I used to do writer conventions, the words of two panelists really stuck in my mind. [1]

“Picard” [1] told an aspiring author that they routinely shut off the internet when it was time to write, to the extent of powering down the router or modem where they were. That way they stayed focused on writing.

“Kirk”, on the other hand, actually made fun of the idea. “If you have to turn the internet off, then you’re not a real writer.”

“Kirk” was an idiot.

So much of life – and succeeding at it – seems to be related to two things:

  • Knowing where your weaknesses are, and
  • Knowing to work around your weaknesses.

Everyone has different limits, distractions, and amounts of energy. Sometimes that’s “natural”, sometimes it’s an environmental thing.

For example, when I take my medications for RLS, my ability to focus on “work” plummets. It’s a known possible side effect. So I make sure I get anything requiring concentration and that has to get done before I take it. When I was teaching, I enjoyed the laundromat with no WiFi… because that made it easier to focus on grading.

A Twitter thread (preserved on imgur here) recounting the wisdom of Kahless the Unforgettable:

Klingon history, as preserved in the sacred texts, told of a time when Kahless the Unforgettable was in the city. As great storm approached the city, the residents sought protection within the walls, except for one man who stayed outside the walls. When Kahless went to the man, he asked him what he was doing. The man replied, “I am not afraid. I will not hide my face behind stone and mortar. I will stand before the wind and make it respect me.” Kahless respected the man and returned to the safety of the walls. On the following day, the man was killed by the storm. …[Later,] Kahless recounted this story and warned …against being defiant by saying, “The wind does not respect a fool. Do not stand before the wind”

Memory Alpha

This is exactly the sort of thing I mean. Whether it’s a writer bragging about not being distracted, a person insulting another for not being “tough” enough, or a non-social-distancing idiot: all are the fool who cannot understand that the wind does not respect them.

Instead, look to the example of “Picard” above – or the Tao well before him – and bend with the stream. Examine yourself impartially. Acknowledge your weaknesses, but do not berate yourself for them. Then figure out ways those weaknesses can be short circuited, worked around, and overcome.

Featured Photo by Andhika Soreng on Unsplash

[1] I don’t remember for certain which authors said these things, so we’ll call them Kirk and Picard.

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