Stephen Pressfield has a minimalistic approach to writing called the Foolscap Method. It’s excellent:
“God made a single sheet of foolscap to be exactly the right length to hold the outline of an entire novel.
Outline the sucker.
Break it down to its fundamentals.
Identify its theme.
Do it on one page. Do it without preciousness. Do it now.
Don’t start the actual writing until you know where you’re going and what you’re trying to accomplish.”
Subscribe to get the videos explaining the Foolscap Method at his website.
Whittling away the extraneous and purposefully adding constraints creates the environment where creativity can thrive. Constraints and eliminating the extraneous intersect when you say no.
A great post on saying no:
“Time is the raw material of creation. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems and problems with those solutions, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting, the work of creating. Creating consumes. It is all day, every day. It knows neither weekends nor vacations. It is not when we feel like it. It is habit, compulsion, obsession, vocation. The common thread that links creators is how they spend their time. No matter what you read, no matter what they claim, nearly all creators spend nearly all their time on the work of creation. There are few overnight successes and many up-all-night successes.”
“Saying “no” has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined. No guards time, the thread from which we weave our creations. The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know. We are not taught to say “no.” We are taught not to say “no.” “No” is rude. “No” is a rebuff, a rebuttal, a minor act of verbal violence. “No” is for drugs and strangers with candy.”
“Creators do not ask how much time something takes but how much creation it costs. This interview, this letter, this trip to the movies, this dinner with friends, this party, this last day of summer. How much less will I create unless I say “no?” A sketch? A stanza? A paragraph? An experiment? Twenty lines of code? The answer is always the same: “yes” makes less. We do not have enough time as it is. There are groceries to buy, gas tanks to fill, families to love and day jobs to do.”
Via Tim Ferris Blog
“The filmmaker Ingmar Bergman favored similarly austere foods. “He constantly eats the same lunch,” the actress Bibi Andersson remembered. “It doesn’t change. It’s some kind of whipped sour milk, very fat, and strawberry jam, very sweet—a strange kind of baby food he eats with corn flakes.”
A number of other figures enjoyed a slightly more varied diet but still preferred to eat essentially the same thing every day. Oliver Sacks wrote a description of his routine for the book, noting that he almost always eats a large bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, a noon meal of herrings and black bread, and tabouli and sardines for dinner (or, if he has company, sushi). When she was staging The Artist Is Present at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Marina Abramović always ate lentils and rice—with no spices and not even salt—in the morning before the performance, and then had more lentils, a whole grain, a vegetable, and a light vegetable consommé when she returned home afterward.
If all of this makes the life of the artist sound awfully repetitive and dull—well, that’s sort of the point. For many artists, deciding what to eat is just one more distraction from the work. If you want to devote hours of intense focus to your art, something else in your life has got to take a backseat, and all too often it is lunch.”
“One misperception about art is that it abhors boundaries. Art to some people means operating without rules, with full freedom and no consequences.This is silly. Without boundaries, you can’t make art. Art lives on the edge of the boundaries.
Palindromes, for example, require writing a sentence that’s the same forward and backward. Somthing like, “No, Mel Gibson is a casino’s big lemon.” If you pushed to do palindromes that didn’t actually reflect letter by letter, that would certainly change the status quo, but I’m not sure they’d be worth much. It’s too easy to make detective palindromes.
Yes, I know you can make a good movie for twenty million dollars, but all we have is five. Yes, I know that your retail store would do better if you were on Main Street, but there’s no room there; there’s room here. And yes, I know it would be better if you had more time, but no, we don’t.
Pick which rules to break, and embrace the rest.”
-Seth Godin The Icarus Decption
President Obama speaking on life as the president –
“You also need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day. “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions. It’s why shopping is so exhausting. “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.”
NYT: What’s with the black suit, white shirt, black tie outfit you always wear? Do you have anything else in your closet?
Cornel West: I’ve got four black suits that I circulate, and they are my cemetery clothes — my uniform that keeps me ready for battle.
NYT: Your cemetery clothes?
Cornel West: It’s ready to die, brother. If I drop dead, I am coffin-ready. I got my tie, my white shirt, everything. Just fix my Afro nice in the coffin.