There Is No Right Way to Do This

My guest post for #The100DayProject

Image: Day 90: There is no right way to do this/#The100DayProject

A couple of days ago, Lindsay Jean Thomson published a guest post I wrote for #The100DayProject. Here it is in full:

Congratulations on making it to day 90! Whether you’ve missed zero days or two dozen, I hope you feel very proud of yourself for sticking with it, and for improving along the way. I’m sure if you look back at what you made on day 1, you’ll notice the difference.

For me, a little over a year ago, I started writing one note on a 4x6 index card per day. I’m now writing this over a year later, and…


Best of Books

How Reading Introduces New Material for You to Think With

Image: Reading by Berthe Morisot/Cleveland Museum of Art

When you choose to read a book, you also choose to change after you’re done. You may think you have an idea of how you’re going to change — “This book tells me I’ll be learning this,” etc. — but really, all bets are off. That’s the reason why books are amazing. And, I like to think, that’s the reason we may feel more disappointed by a bad book than a mediocre film. We hold books as a medium to a higher standard.

In Sherry Turkle’s memoir, The Empathy Diaries, she recalled a conversation with psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, “Once, I…


There Is No Right Way to Do This

In an age of time starvation and scarcity, I choose to believe there is always a way to make something difficult happen.

Image: Window Writing, Chicago by John Simmons/Harvard Art Museums

“I don’t have enough time!”

The words I spoke revealed the truth. Once again, my mind sprung the trap. I’m not sure who set it, but it’s been there for years. It draws to mind the second chapter of Portia Nelson’s poem, “Autobiography in 5 Chapters,” in her book, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery. I fell into the time scarcity trap, but my eyes are open. It takes me a few hours — sometimes a couple of days — but I get out.

There’s always enough time

In an age of time starvation and scarcity, that’s what I choose…


There Is No Right Way to Do This

An author’s first time collaborating with artificial intelligence

I was close to pulling my hair out writing an introduction for this, so I decided to ask my AI collaborator, GPT-3. It responded, “The truth is, I don’t have a lot of creative advice to give. My creative process is kind of the equivalent of a drunk guy trying to break a record in a potato sack race.”

I guess ledes are hard to write, even for artificial intelligence.

If you haven’t been acquainted with GPT-3, please allow me to introduce you:

Officially, GPT-3 is an autoregressive language model that generates 4.5 billion words per day. It’s still in…


There Is No Right Way to Do This

Two Starting Points to Discover Your Creative Inspiration: Collect and Remix

Image: “Bam in the Pool” by Spime (2021)/Instagram

When it comes to creativity, some incredibly successful artists will give you the very honest secret to success:

“Just start.”

This type of quote is honest because that’s how they got to where they are today — it did all start with one piece of work. (And then another, and another!)

However, a quote like “Just start,” may also leave you with a bajillion other questions.

One of those next questions, when you want to start, is probably something like:

“What do I actually want to do?”


There Is No Right Way to Do This

“What can you make in 20 seconds?”

Image: CHUTTERSNAP/Unsplash

“Life happens.”

There are always going to be days — maybe, even weeks! — where you simply are occupied. On those days, you’ll need some really short, quick, ways to keep making stuff. This is a question I suggest in my book on creativity, There Is No Right Way to Do This:

“What can you make in 20 seconds?”

Vin Verma, who goes by the name Internetvin, has made music and written code every day for a year. One of his techniques is to find a way to do music or code in 20 seconds (e.g., in coding, writing just…


There Is No Right Way to Do This

They actually work best if you wouldn’t call yourself “creative”

Image: Three Butterflies, Herman Henstenburgh/Rijksstudio

Everybody is creative. In fact, being creative is simple.

We’ve forgotten how to do it because we complicate it too much.

We label ourselves as “creative,” or “not creative.” Other people put us — or maybe we put ourselves — into a role.

I can’t remember how many times I’ve quoted this, but it’s so true:

When someone asked artist Shaun Tan when he started drawing, he very accurately pointed out that everybody instinctively draws as a child.

But somewhere along the way, most people stop.

Artists don’t.

For example, visual artist Big Mike paints during his lunch hour at…


A Guide to Better Writing for Personal and Employer Branding

Postlight CEO Paul Ford wrote:

Consider Medium.com and Genius.com. One is for writing new things and one is for annotating things. But both are web platforms that have users, logins, long-form text, annotations, and rich media. You could, with some stretching, build Medium on top of Genius, or Genius on top of Medium. They’re different under the hood, but it’s not like one is Photoshop and the other is TurboTax. They kind of do the same thing.

Referencing Ford, I said in my conversation with Tom Osman that Discord and Slack were essentially the same product as well. But the…


Dacoury Natche’s creative process reveals simple strategies that anyone can use to power up their creative flow.

Image: Jr Korpa/Unsplash

There’s a fair chance that at some point, Dacoury Natche has been your favorite recording artist’s favorite artist. Even in his early work (like Drake’s “Worst Behavior,” or Kendrick Lamar’s “Money Trees”), Natche, whose stage name is DJ Dahi, developed his reputation for innovative sounds. His skills shone on the album released near the onset of the pandemic lockdown, Donald Glover’s (aka Childish Gambino’s) 3.15.20. You may also know his work from the Grammy-winning song “A Lot,” by 21 Savage featuring J. Cole.

When I was researching my book, I interviewed Natche about his creative process. …


The Anatomy of a Frankensteined Zettelkasten

The full version of this article is available at my website. I’d prefer you read it there!

I was talking to Bryan Collins before we recorded an episode for his Become a Writer Today podcast recently, and the Zettelkasten note cards have changed the way he writes. We talked about it because he found it through my Forge piece on it, and it also changed the way I wrote and worked. If you have no idea what a Zettelkasten is, that’s the prequel to this piece.

If you’re an OG Star Wars fan or hate prequels for whatever reason (and…

Herbert Lui

I write about personal and collective growth. Author ‘There Is No Right Way to Do This’ herbertlui.net/reps/

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