Reading

When I think about all the books I haven’t read, I feel a sense of despair. Although some people say that I read a lot, the truth is, what I’ve read is a drop in the ocean of what’s out there. 

Every year, more and more books come out. And I have whole lists of books from various genres — classics, business, personal development — that I’ve yet to make a dent in. 

It’s such a futile venture — trying to read as much as I can before I die. Even if I’m able to read 200 books a year, and I live till 100, that’s only about 14,000 books. 

Despite having known this for about 10 years now, I still haven’t come to terms with the fact that there’s so much I will never read. 

But it’s yet another reminder that my time on this earth is short, that there’s only so much I can accomplish. 

It’s a reminder to appreciate the books that I do have an opportunity to encounter. A reminder to not finish the books that I don’t enjoy, that I read out of a sense of obligation. 

I guess it’s the same for everything else in life. 

Showrunner

Since I’ve been writing a bit more about cocktails lately — online publications and my own newsletter — someone actually wrote to me, “You should host your own cocktail travel series.”

And I’ll admit that TV is something I have been considering. But it’s also something that I know nothing about. 

According to an article in Marketing Showrunners, structure is a vital component of any great TV show. 

“Every show knows its episode “rundown,” the unique format that makes its episodes work,” writes Jay Acunzo in the article.  

“Every showrunner knows how to use this structure to create better work, not only repeating the same format, but playing with it and innovating with a purpose, in tiny ways, to keep the content fresh.”

Although “the format” is something that people “don’t see”, it’s what makes a TV show stand out. At the same time, it provides writers a framework to fill out. 

Acunzo suggests an exercise that one can use to understand the structure of TV shows. He calls it “extraction”. 

“Grab a notebook and a pen, and go watch your favorite show — the one you want to model yours after. 

“See if you can’t find the underlying structure of a given episode. Try to “extract” their format,” he writes.

He adds that a showrunner’s job is to get the audience from start to finish. But first, we need to know where to start. 

Memories

I recently rediscovered an old blog that I used to read. 

I started reading it, I think, about 10 years ago, whilst I was still in uni (age giveaway) and fascinated by erotic fiction. 

It’s been years since I last visited the blog. How’d I rediscover it? I received a newsletter. 

After all these years, I’m still using the email that I signed up on her website with. 

That’s another benefit of building an email list. You have an “in” with your potential audience. You’re able “retain” them for years, provided they’re still interested in your content. 

And it’s why I love subscribing to email. Every time I log into it, there’s always something new, something interesting to discover. 

My email inbox is like a time machine — taking me back to times when I was delighted by other things. It’s a way for me to see how my interest in things have changed. 

Occasionally, it’s a way for me to dive back into things I was once interested in but have left by the wayside because of time constraints. And perhaps I have time in the now to pick them up again. 

It’s more insightful than memories on Facebook. 

Social

In an article in The New York Times, writer Mike Isaac writes about a “new social network that isn’t new at all”. 

This social network is an email newsletter. 

“Every week or so, I blast it out to a few thousand people who have signed up to read my musings. Some of them email back, occasionally leading to a thoughtful conversation,” Isaac writes. 

This is exactly what I’ve been loving about newsletters. It’s a great start to more meaningful conversations. 

I currently use Substack for my newsletter on cocktails but there are other tools like Revue that make it easy to create, send and receive payment for your content. 

Apparently, there are writers who earn more than six figures in revenue through their newsletters by creating content for an audience that’s willing to pay for it. 

Isaac uses Substack as well and says this about how newsletters are different from the typical social media tools:

“In contrast to what happens if I quit Facebook or Twitter, I can keep my fans — an ample email subscriber list — if I decide to leave Substack’s service.

The beauty of an email newsletter is that it could be a one-man business. It’s a great way to turn your passion into something that could generate some revenue. 

It’s not something that’s meant for the masses. 

Separate

According to a 2009 study, people are apparently less motivated to execute on plans that they announce to others. 

This finding applies to people whose intentions have a direct contribution to how they want to be perceived and the identity they’ve associated themselves with. 

For example, a writer may say that she wants to write a novel and after announcing it, may feel less motivated to actually complete it. 

The paper concludes that: “When other people take notice of one’s identity-relevant behavioral intentions, one’s performance of the intended behaviors is compromised”.

I’ve experienced this as a writer.

I have a couple of novels sitting unfinished. One that’s finished but unedited. These are the ones I’ve told people about. 

Then there are other things that I don’t talk about until I’ve finished — like the short story that I finished in a night. It was a submission for an anthology that I didn’t think I’d have time to submit to because of a tight deadline. Somehow, I found the energy after midnight to finish it. 

But there are other things I work on that seem to progress faster when I tell people about them. Now that I’ve said it, I have to do it, I think to myself. 

Is it because I don’t think of these as tied in to my personal identity? Could this perhaps be the trick to motivating oneself? To be separate?

Tomorrow

In yesterday’s Daily Stoic email, I read a beautiful story about an old man called Ken Watson who  bought 14 years of presents for his two-year-old neighbour. 

You see, he’d told her that he would die at 100 but when it looked like he wasn’t going to, he bought the gifts so that she’d still get a present every year. He died at 87. 

This particular issue of the newsletter calls for us to think about what we are doing today to make the world a better place in the years to come, for those that will come after us. 

It highlights an old Greek proverb: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” 

“While Marcus Aurelius and Seneca took pains to discourage chasing legacy or posthumous fame, they did believe it was the philosopher’s duty to serve the common good—to contribute to the Roman Empire in a way that would allow it to stand for future generations,” goes the newsletter. 

It goes on to remind us that while we can only live in the present, we must do so in a way that doesn’t bring about detrimental results for our children and their children.

Music

I’ve been doing the activities in Learning Music by Ableton since last night. What a fun way to learn about music and how to create it digitally. 

It’s my current replacement for Piano Genie for in-between work breaks. 

After playing around with the Learning Music course, I decided to find out more about Ableton. Turns out, their core business is software for creating music. 

What a great content marketing idea. There are some things I think good content should have, things that make them shareable. 

#1 It provides value. 

I’ve never actually tried to make music digitally and although I play the piano, there are other areas of music that I’ve never explored eg. drum parts. It gave me a simple way to learn more about something that I’m already interested in.  

#2 It’s fun. 

I’ve already spent more time on it than I intended to. I’ve always been a fan of sound and being able to create my own sounds was a joy. At one point, I was even listening to the beats I’d created while working. 

#3 It has a takeaway option.

Throughout the lessons, you’re given the chance to create your own music and you’re given a very convenient option to download the piece you’ve made. 

However, if you want to open the file, you need to download Ableton’s software. 

The great thing about this is that you don’t have to buy straightaway; you’re given a 30-day trial. As a business, this trial is another chance to show even more value, prevent churn and promote retention. 

I don’t work in music, but I’m already a fan.