Organizing the Interesting Bits

I sometimes worry that the breadth of material I’m consuming on a day-to-day basis is one of many horrible symptoms of living in a distraction-filled world, and that as a result I’m now lacking the ability to focus my attention on what matters.

OK so that’s less of a worry than it is a reality, but there’s also a message there somewhere.

It’s fine to be interested in a variety of topics. In fact, the more we take in of the world, the more interesting work we’ll create as artists. Forgive yourself for wanting to learn about everything. But understand, of course, that no one can succeed in that endeavour.

Perhaps there’s some kind of structure you can apply to the growing list of interests you acquire. A written list, for instance, on your phone. In my notes app I have notes like “To Read” and “To Watch” pinned to the top. Any time I think of something I’d like to pursue later, I can quickly add it to the list and come back to it later. Just because we’re inspired in that moment doesn’t necessarily mean we have to pursue the inspiration right away.

If you’re anything like me, you’re learning how to take the millions of bits of data going through your mind and lay them out in such a way that makes them somewhat manageable. Many bits will float away into the abyss, possibly never to be seen again. And that’s fine. Many more interesting bits are on their way.

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