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Practice > Tools

Tools aren’t important, it’s the practice that makes good content.

From Warren Ellis

My problem with this emerging narrative is that doing a podcast is a relatively low-tech, cheap enterprise. Beg or borrow a microphone and a laptop. Use a smartphone and earbuds with a mic. Process in something free like Audacity or Garageband. Look at apps like Opinion or Anchor before spending real money on Libsyn or a WordPress front end. It can be easier than you think. If you have something to say or do and audio is your thing, don’t dismiss podcasting just because other people are telling you it’s becoming professionalised.

Figure out what you want to do. Pre-record three episodes and upload them all at once as your launch. Keep it simple, always. Get things out into the world. And then tell me about them, please. Thank you.

I saw the excerpt from Warren Ellis’ newsletter on Twitter earlier and it made me think about a similar post I saw.

The tools aren’t important. Practice is important.

Names

I’m always a sucker for advice pieces, especially when they are directed from adults to children. Unsolicited Advice for My Three Sons, In No Particular Order is full of greats bits of advice but one stuck out to me more than the rest.

Names are a door handle to a person; that small little effort opens them up.

This is great advice, and something I use as much as I can, especially when talking to people over the phone. I work in a help desk environment and people feel dehumanized by the entire process so it’s nice to converse using each others names and not just a caller/callee relationship.

We’re both people and it’s important to remember that. We have feelings and we are working towards the same outcome. But it’s important for life too.

I try to take note of anyone with a name tag and thank them using their name. It’s fun to see the surprise in their face when I use their name when they didn’t give it to me.

I had the same feeling one day and I asked a customer when I worked in retail how he knew my name, he motioned to my name tag and winked. I had totally forgotten I had my name on my chest.

Voting with your two feet

If your time is being wasted, ignore sunk costs and change your situation by voting with your two feet.

I was initially skeptical of these bite-sized chunks of advice, seemingly for the self-employed followers of bliss. Though as I make my way through Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life I awoke this morning with a different perspective. I thought, this is advice I could apply to my life as well. So I gave it a shot.

At first read, I thought this was telling me to quit my job and walk away. That’s not feasible for a life constructed around the stable income. One that gives my wife the freedom to experiment. I am the rock. She is the stone.

At second read, I took it to mean get up and take a walk.

When I have a problem I can’t solve, I hit my head against it until I was exhausted. Frustrated and no closer to a solution, I’m slowly learning to step away. To change my situation by voting with my two feet. To take a walk. Think about something else. Do anything else.

Even getting up to get a cold drink resets my mind. At a former job, we had a soda fountain in the building. When I hit a problem I couldn’t see my way past, I would walk by my co-worker’s desk and utter a single word. “Drink?” And with that, we’d head upstairs to the fountain. With icy cold Cokes in hand, we’d chat about life, work, writing, whatever weird Internet thing we’d come across that day.

Sometimes we’d ride the elevator all the way up, or all the way down. Just for a few extra moments of conversation. Sometimes with others, but often alone, we’d chat and laugh. Then, when I got back to my desk, fueled by good cheer, cold carbonation and a few moments of joy, I would stare down the problem. And more often than not, a solution would come to me.

So next time I come upon a seemingly insurmountable problem, or one I just can’t seem to think through, I’m going for a walk. And maybe a drink.

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