Alain de Botton

Tweet of the Day

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Tweet of the Day

Alain de Botton tweet

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Tweet of the Day

Good work tends to happen only at the end of day: when the fear of accomplishing nothing finally exceeds fear of doing it badly.

Alain de Botton

How to Start

“The only possible way to begin a book is to tell oneself that its eventual failure is guaranteed — but survivable.”

Alain de Botton

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Pessimism/optimism

Pessimism/optimism

Posters by Alain de Botton and Anthony Burrill (on sale here).

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What “finished” means to a writer

“Only by declaring a book completely finished can one start to see how much remains to be done on it.”

Alain de Botton

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The Wages of Worry

“It seems the only way to write a half decent book is to worry oneself sick on an hourly basis that one is producing a complete disaster.”

— Alain de Botton

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Tweet of the Day

The only mood in which to start writing is self-disgust. Writing becomes an act of atonement for procrastination — and “self-waste.”

Alain de Botton, master Twitterer

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Only Disconnect

Plug Face by Jake Mates

Two recent tweets by Alain de Botton capture the way I’ve been feeling lately:

Awkward mathematics of my profession: for every one hour of actual writing, I need four hours of daydreaming.

So cruel that the machine I use for concentrated, slow thinking is also, in another window, more exciting than any TV could ever be.

The frenzied, always-on, real-time “Web 2.0” creates an expectation that to be well informed is to hear every bit of news the moment it breaks, no matter how remote or trivial. It is exhausting. Worse, it obliterates the sort of slow, contemplative thought that writing requires. We move so quickly from one news bit to the next that we don’t take the time to really think about any of them. Like food, information today has become too cheap and too ubiquitous, and we overeat. What we need is an information diet. De Botton again: “We require periods of fast in the life of our minds no less than in that of our bodies.”

Lately I’ve been hearing more and more echoes of my own web fatigue. Cartoonist James Sturm flees the web, leading Nicholas Carr to suggest, “Disconnection is the new counterculture.” Even among the web priests, the buzz is about the need for more filters, more “curation.” (Curation, you may recall, is what we used to call editing, which is what newspapers used to do for us.)

All of which is my (typically) prolix way of saying I’m going offline for a week or two. You may see some posts pop up on the blog, but they will be ones that I have already written and scheduled for automatic publication, like those timers that turn the lights on and off while you are away on vacation. If you drop me an email or post a comment, you likely will not get a response for a while. I suspect the web will get along without me. I know I can get along quite happily without it. See you on the other side.

Image source: “Plug Face” by Jake Mates.

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The Tweeted Wisdom of Alain de Botton

Selections from the Twitter feed of Alain de Botton, a master of the tweet.

The attraction of the melancholic: sadness has created the room we’re going to take up in their lives.

We can only envy people towards whom we feel equal: it would not occur to anyone to envy the queen for her house. She is too odd to envy.

Definition of good parenting: that the child grow up with no wish to become a writer.

The book will be killed not directly by new technology but by the monkey mind it breeds. The issue is concentration, not royalties.

His tweets about the writing life are dead-on:

Good work only happens in the last 10 minutes of the day, when the fear of not accomplishing anything at last exceeds the fear of writing.

Writerly self-disgust: How rare to finish a day and think: I have worked hard and dutifully to the best of my ability. 1 day out of 20?

Stories of macho writers taking to drink has a tendency to cloud why they did so: because they were scared witless … of writing.

Writers are sucking in (unconsciously) the modern obsession with productivity — and forgetting about effectiveness.

Follow this man’s feed! (Hat tip: The Second Pass)

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