• Finishing your projects

    06/29/2021 at 22:22 0 comments

    A discussion at the bottom of Donald Papp's article We All Need A Win Sometimes talks about getting through the boring parts of a project. My response is based on what I've found out about motivation.

    sjm4306 says: I used to find the process of designing and making in and of itself rewarding but now that I’ve merged my hobby with making content for my youtube channel I’ve grown to hate all the other bits of the documentation process that get in the way of the fun bits, making them no longer fun or at best much less fun. Like filming is a huge pita and often works against what I’m trying to accomplish, then there’s monotonous editing of the footage. But it’s sort of a catch 22, I cant continue making all this stuff without monetizing it through youtube so that my hobby can self sustain. So either I have my cake but cant eat it or I have no cake to eat. And I get that I actually am blessed to be in the position that I am in, not everyone’s hobby can be financially viable, but at the same time I’m starting to burn out. Idk, maybe I need to put the brakes on yt till I can figure out the balance I need to both have some fun and be able to support my hobby.

    Extrinsic rewards are best at motivating rote and mechanical tasks, things you can do all day without thinking about them. For example, the auto mechanic in the dealership does mostly rote, mechanical stuff and his pay is the motivation for doing that.

    Creative projects are best addressed with intrinsic rewards, which are autonomy, excellence, growth, and usefulness. If that same mechanic goes home and works on a project racecar, he gets autonomy (he chooses what to do and how), mastery (he does a good job), growth (he learns about racecars), and usefulness (he wants to start racing).

    You’re linking video editing to the extrinsic reward: money. At the same time, it's not routine for you so it’s not a bang-it-out task – you’re always considering what to do, how to do it, whether to try different things, how to use the tools, and so on.

    To fix this you need to change the editing into a rote mechanical step as much as you can. Once you do that, the external rewards will provide better motivation.

    Start a new project to learn video editing, top to bottom. Choose a concrete goal as motivation: a parody commercial, a 10 minute self-directed movie, your kids as superheroes, or whatever you want. Learn all the video editing you can with an eye towards how it would apply to the project goal, then when you’re ready make that video. Read books, watch youtube videos, consider different styles and techniques, use different features of the software, play with the concepts – cover as much of the field as you can.

    Next, create a boilerplate description for project videos that makes the editing as routine as possible. For example, imagine the videos as all having a start, middle, and end. The start has *these* characteristics. The lead-in goes *there*. The end section always has *those* features, and so on. Make it so that creating a video is as simple as following the boilerplate instructions.

    Once you’re done with that, video editing will be more automatic. You’ll need to make fewer decisions, you’ll know the software better, you won't be as uncertain, you can do it "on autopilot”.

    Video editing will then be a rote, mundane task. It will respond to extrinsic motivations, and you should have an easier time of it.

  • Standing on the shoulders of giants

    03/11/2021 at 15:28 0 comments

    Carl Rogers introduced the concept of "Unconditional Positive Regard" when working with other people. It's part of Humanistic psychology, a doctrine that "emphasizes the individual's inherent drive toward self-actualization, the process of realizing and expressing one's own capabilities and creativity."

    Humanistic psychology developed as a response to the more pessimistic views of psychology: instead of identifying flaws to be fixed, humanism focuses on strengths to be encouraged. It's the umbrella term containing self-help, motivation, and life hacking.

    Which brings me to Elliot's post saying that success is 99% collaboration. The article got my hackles up a little, and deserves a response.

    I understand that no one creates in a vacuum, that we all rely on the fruits of others.

    What I *don’t* understand is why anyone would take the trouble to bring that up. Just because it's true isn't an actual cause for mentioning it - lots of things are true, but this doesn't compel us to point them out.

    Many people suffer lack of motivation for finishing projects, and one reason could be that others keep undercutting the resultant satisfaction. Your brain is a correlation engine, and “Nice project, but others are responsible for the bulk of the work” sounds like a recipe for associating completion with cutting critique. Keep getting accomplishments dismissed and your brain will learn to correlate accomplishment with disappointment.

    Overbearing pride, arrogance, superiority, or false accomplishments are bad obviously, but this does not mean that all pride is bad. Some quick googling on religious opinion bears this out. A little bit of pride in accomplishment is healthy. It probably triggers the dopamine hit that encourages you to have more accomplishments.

    A different way to look at this is to note that the societal structures used are *also* available to you – except that they completed a project and you did not. Saying they only stand on the shoulders of giants is indistinguishable from envy. Newton said it about himself, which is quite different from someone saying it about others.

    Suppose your teenage son shows you a completed project. Do you say "that's nice, but you couldn't have done it if I hadn't given you money for materials"?

    We should also consider the social media context. Admonishing a child might bring a tiny bit of disappointment to one person, but social media greatly amplifies that effect. With 4 million visitors each day, how much total disappointment resulted from Elliot's article?

    I can think of no positive reason for taking Elliot's position. It's potentially an interesting idea to point out once in a philosophical discussion, but on a website that encourages creativity saying literally "success is 99% collaboration" to a wide audience seems counterproductive.

  • Almost no one is creative

    02/27/2021 at 19:19 6 comments

    Response to a blog post about printing Yoda heads. Is *just* reproducing someone else's work being a maker? Is copying the same thing as doing original work?


    I can add some suspiciously depressing observations: almost no one is creative.

    There’s a psychological test for this, called the “Creative Achievement Questionnaire”, you can find it online and take it yourself. Don’t do that.

    Seriously, don’t take that test – it’ll only make you depressed and want to give up being creative.

    The median score for this test in the general population is… wait for it… zero. About 70% of the adult population scores zero on this measure of creativity.

    Of further note, creativity follows a Pareto distribution; meaning that the amount of creativity people have is an inverse exponential curve: most of the creativity is generated by a small number of people, and the vast majority of people who even score on the creativity scale score below 5.

    About 70% of the population score zero, of the remaining 30% we see that 70% of *those* people score a 1, and of the 30% of the 30%, about 70% of *those* people score 2, and so on.

    About half a million books are published each year, the square root of that number have half the sales (Pareto distribution…), the square root of the square root take up 3/4 of all sales, and so on. Stephen king sells a lot of books, while the vast *vast* majority of writers have no sales at all.

    It’s depressing, really.

    As a further observation, I note that the vast majority of articles and videos of people doing “science” is actually people reproducing what other scientists have done. Ben Krasnow is mostly a reproduction shop (with a little bit of science), Tech Ingredients is somewhat sciency, but just about everyone else is just reproducing something “neat and interesting”, and claiming that it’s “Science!” for audience appeal.

    Also depressing.

    There are mitigating factors and some nuance in the Creative Achievement thing, but article commentary is the wrong place for discussion. Contact me on .IO if you want more details.