Since this year began, I have written and published each day. (Some “days” were completed 2 am the next morning, but I pre-determined that to be okay.)
I only once spewed a first draft, tabbed to publish a different writing, and forgot to polish the original spewing. A technical success, but not within the spirit of the law (nor something I’d like to repeat).
Since May 2017, I’ve written every day. (In addition to that half-time, I’ve only forgotten once, wherein I wrote twice the next to compensate). I’ll continue this habit, probably for the next eight years. That would make ten. Hell, I could do this for life.
The more that art affects lives, the better it is. (Assuming it affects lives in a positive way).
This can be broken down into two dimensions:
- How many people it affects.
- How much it affects them.
You could define “expected impact” as (Total number of people) x (Average amount of impact).
A few methods for creating art with a high expected impact:
- Create a valuable message
- Make the message easily digestible (more memetic).
- Create a message that lasts a long time
- Widen the audience it appeals to (target more demographics).
- Focus your art on the influencers (powerful/social people, good promoters).
(Creating art that impacts other artists would fall into this category)
- Make your art have less of a negative impact (be harmful to fewer people/less sizably harmful to those it harms).
- People often make the art they would want because:
- It’s relatively easy to do it well (easier than doing market research on an audience)
- Their own taste is an approximate proxy for “people who are like them”.
- If someone had every trait in the world, they’d make the most popular art because it’d be the most relatable (which increases digestibility of messages)
- Good art should add value to people’s lives. Value is important to note as distinct from perceived value (which is what money measures).
- Children produce great value for a few people. Cat videos produce little value for many people.
- Historically, creating evergreen content has been a stronger strategy than creating one-time impact, as that includes future generations in potential audience.
- Assuming its impact is good, the art you choose to do should be the one with the greatest expected impact. That is often similar to what you want to do most*, but not always.**
- I’m starting my career doing what I want to do most because I currently have the strongest ego (as you get older, your drive decreases) and may end up more on the intellectually-driven side later. (Editor’s note: a conversation earlier today redefined the word “ego” for me. I have more musing to do on this topic.
- Another approach is changing what you’re passionate about.
- Famous philosopher/author Nick Bostrom wrote a book that convinced many, many people to worry about AI as an existential risk. This prompted many people to start researching friendly AI, which may save the species and therefore have a HUGE impact on the world. (the hugest from here on out, perchance, because it’s necessary for all other future positive impacts.)
- This would suggest that a solid course of action for me—if there are any existential threats to humans—is to use art to fight them. (If it’s a thing that I could impact significantly. It’s not the only choice—my talents may be better used elsewhere—but it’s certainly a reasonable choice.)
*: You’ll want to do the thing that matters the most to you, and it mattering a lot to you is a good prediction that it’ll also matter to others. It mattering to others is a good predictor of how much it affects them.
**: That math has two spots of “good predictor”, so it’ll be exponentially removed from truth.
Why do I consistently wait until the last minute to complete work? (I recently completed my largest project of all time. I had over a month to complete what amounted to 44 hours of work, yet I still crunched through 38 hours in the final two days, staying up until 5:30 am and evolving into a giddy, manic machine).
- Being in time-crunch is thrilling and I enjoy a good rush.
- It makes work take less time, and I don’t like work. (Since I don’t have time to lollygag or double-back, I don’t lollygag or double back).
- “That’s a problem for future-Julian, and what has that guy ever done for me?”
- I’m a lazy fuck… who does what he promises. (I would never do it, but that’s not an option so I come as close as possible.)
- The system works so I have no incentive to change it.
- You never know when the teacher will change the assignment last minute. Did I say “teacher”? I meant “customer”. They’re shockingly similar.
Why do I call my blog “Always Better”? Four reasons:
- It should be strictly better than some other activities. Eating popcorn or browsing Reddit, for example: this blog should Always be a Better use of time.
- I Always want to be a Better writer. Better than who? Better than I was yesterday. Better than I was this morning. Better than I’ve ever been.
- It’s a pun for what I wanted to be when I started the blog: Better in All Ways. 
- They say creative lives are a gamble. That makes this blog is a bet, which means I’m Always Betting.
 I no longer want that. Instead, I’ve turned off improvement in some areas to focus more on the few I care strongly about.
 I haven’t fount my creative life particularly gamble-y, but that’s a topic for another time.
We don’t see musical legends to hear music; we come to view the divine. Headphones are better for music. I saw Paul so I could think, “That’s the closest to God I’ve ever seen.”
He opened with America, which stabs my chest with recollections of love for someone who disappears for months at a time. Then came hit after hit that even your kids would know.
He didn’t sing Bridge over Troubled Water or Mrs. Robinson – both #1s. “Maybe he doesn’t want to sing them without Garfunkel.” But he sang The Sound of Silence, and that was a Garfunkel song. (And anyway, it’s not about the music).
His solo pieces strip the man down to emotional expression. His body drops away and Paul becomes a voice, guitar, and poetry.
Can we substitute in a bad rendition of those two #1s instead of the string-backed songs he played that no one knew? Does he care about my opinion? Should he?
There goes a man who achieved his purpose. He lived a satisfying, accomplished life. What more is there?
How can my writing impact as many lives as his did, and still provide the high of thousands making pilgrimage en masse to realize I’m not God?
A friend challenged me to write the last sentence of the defining novel of the 21st century. After much research, discussion, and consideration, I composed the following:
To think we thought change wouldn’t change change.
Perhaps I’ll write the rest someday.