On Practice

Recently I got into a brief conversation on the nature of practice. In fact it’s a topic that keeps popping up lately, someone else I know was crowd sourcing ideas on how to get in to writing when you lack confidence in your ability to do so, and I found myself considering some advice that works for me, but might not be all that great for anyone else. Here’s what I didn’t say:

“Write. Keep writing. Don’t stop until you hate yourself for doing it. Then stop, because tomorrow you’re going to do it again.”

I have forgotten the last day I spent without writing anything, I carry a notebook in my manbag, I have a notepad installed on every mobile device I own, at work I carry notepads that get consumed faster when writing notes than on actual work related purposes, and even when I’m ill, or depressed, I’ll excise my frustration through words, or simply force myself to put pen to paper, hand to keyboard, black to white in some form so that I can say “today I created something”.

It works for me, I’ve looked back over some of my old work and, while I appreciate a lot of the ideas behind some of my old pieces – even on GeekOut – I still mark several differences in my writing style since I began. Even now I’m writing this at… let’s see, 00:51, ten-to-one in the morning, having woken up at an obscene hour to start the day, desperately constructing a quiz for tomorrow’s (today’s) GeekOut Shrewsbury Meet, printing the bomb defusal manual for Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes, and getting the daily duties done like eating a real meal and not just coffee and another cookie.

I do it because it makes me productive. It forces me to strive, and to accomplish, to complete projects that I set out to achieve, like the books I’m working on, the company I’m trying to set up, something more than watching all of Deep Space 9 so that I can draw judgemental comparisons to Babylon 5. And dammit I have kept to my schedule of work, producing regular content for GeekOut, beavering away at side-projects, and getting things done.

I wrote the comment above, and deleted it, in that dramatic “hold down the backspace button even though you don’t have to” fashion. Why would I encourage someone wanting to enjoy an old hobby to dive so fanatically into it in the way I have? If they had the mad devotion to writing I have then surely they wouldn’t need the advice, and if they take that advice they’ll soon lose interest in writing.

I don’t draw for example. I can draw, and I’ve no doubt I could get good at it if I devoted myself to the task, but why would I do that when a quiet doodle every now and again helps me relax after a month of hard written work? I enjoy it enough, and tend to destroy my sketches once they’re done to my satisfaction, but I take no pride in the work or set much store by the end product. It is fun.

Ultimately, if you enjoy something enough that you are willing to exhaust yourself to do it, then you are going to get good. That goes for writing, drawing, programming, the physical activities, or even public speaking. Bur don’t motivate yourself out of a good thing. Keep your hobbies as just that, and only let your passions consume you.

… Yeah, that’s what I should have wrote at the time!

The Geek Of Things

Over the last year and a bit, Tim and I have argued hard over the one subject that really divides us. One of the subjects anyway, we argue a lot, usually once a week over the Top 10’s but I’m getting sidetracked.

What makes a topic geeky?

We’ve covered subjects from tabletop games to pro-wrestling, and every genre of film, game and even dabbled a little into music, literature and technology. I even accused a former employer of mine of geekiness on the subject of football (during my interview, thanks for the job John) because he could probably go as in-depth on the subject as I could about Dungeons & Dragons.

Through the long hours of debate and pointless name calling, we’ve come to a fairly broad but satisfactory understanding of what makes a geek thing geeky, and more to the point, what about loving it makes us geeks.

Fundamentally what defines a geek is the difference between us and “the cool kids”. It’s not so much that we like different things, but it’s our willingness to get far too excited and passionate about them. Cool is easily defined by a general disinterest in any one thing, or in anything at all, even if that disinterest is only expressed and not truly felt.

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But when a geek or a nerd finds something that they find interesting they dive in with both feet first. We do the research so that we can talk about it for hours, we absorb every piece of media, and grab every bit of merchandise we can get our greedy mits on until there’s very little left of ourselves and we are only an extension of “the thing we now love”. Right up until we find a new thing.

Oh we never let go of the old thing, we just repeat the process until we’ve absorbed something else, and again and again building up a collage of passions and an encyclopaedia of knowledge that embed themselves on our personality, and shape the way we view and interact with the world. That’s not to say that our personalities are exclusively made of the things we love, more that our personalities inform what we choose to imprint upon, and as we imprint we accentuate ourselves.

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In our occasional series Geeking Out Hard we go all out describing whatever it is we’ve gone completely mental over at the time. In these happy few pieces you can read all about whatever favourite subject was, but in that you can also see clearly the kind of passion I’m talking about.

So I put it to you, dear reader:

What makes a geek? And what makes someone cool?

And what are you geeking out about right now?

Join the discussion in the comments section down below, or on our Facebook page. Alternatively if you’d like to tell everyone about what you’re Geeking Out Hard over, you can submit an article to us HERE.

Making acquaintances

Hello once more!

Meeting new people makes the world go round for someone like me. On the one hand, you can meet someone who positively impacts your life. On the other, you may meet someone who wants to cause nothing but grief. This said, meeting people is a gamble. An important gamble we all should take.

This is partly why the idea of GeekOut was brought to fruitition. To meet fellow “geeks” while lowering the risk associated with the gamble to your favour, somewhat. This doesn’t mean you will necessarily meet your best friends at GeekOut, but darn it, we certainly will try to make that happen.

Everyone is welcome to attend, everyone is welcome to share their passions. After all, GeekOut is here to allow you to express yourself in an open environment. Are you an avid anime fan? Comic reader? Gamer? Why? What got you on your path?

If you cannot attend a GeekOut session, but want to chime in with your passion and your story, please comment or send me an e-mail via the Contact Us page. With your permission, I will share great posts with the meet-up group, as it’s great to know you’re not alone!