Taking A (Permanent?) Break From Social Media

For better or for worse, I’m giving up on social media for the time being.

This is not going to be difficult for me because I hardly use it already. I have profiles at the three major sites, but I basically never post. I would have given it up years ago, but I’ve always felt obligated to maintain my profiles in order to promote my music, in spite of the fact that social media has never done anything for my career.

Over the years I have occasionally made attempts to be more active, to post regularly, engage with people, and in general be “good” at social media, but it’s always felt forced and unnatural. Whenever I post about anything I always have this feeling like I’m standing up on a table in a crowded room and shouting ‘look at me!’ It feels shitty and vain, and I don’t like doing it. Also, I’ve noticed that I don’t give a shit about approximately 95% of what gets posted, and I don’t see the point in wading through the crap to find the 5% worth looking for when I can just read a blog or a book instead.

So, going forward I’m going to stick to this blog and good old-fashioned email for online communication and see how it goes.

Ideas For This Blog (A Brainstorm Session)

So far so good with my routine of writing 1000 words per day for Have Guitar Will Travel. Not so much with this blog though. I am floundering to come up with things to write about here, so today I’m going to take a moment to list some ideas for future posts that I can then get to work on:

  • Book reviews & summaries: Mike Cernovich has recommended that one of the best ways to get the attention of other writers is to review their work. Also, I think it would be valuable for me (and others) if I began developing a collection of notes on the books I’ve read, similar to that of Nat Eliason.
  • Blog reviews: On a related note, I could definitely cook up a post reviewing my favorite blogs.
  • Travel notes: I’m currently in Magnetawan, Ontario and will be here for the next month-and-a-half, so there’s not much travel to write about currently, but after that I’ll be shipping out to the South Pacific, visiting Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and a number of other places in the region. Writing about the places I visit, the people, the history, etc. would be a worthy topic for this blog.
  • Thoughts on politics: Even though I am just one tiny human being without any particular sway over the public, would like to understand politics better and have a more informed opinion. To this end I think it would be relevant to work on reading the news and writing what are essentially opinion columns here to flesh out my own ideas.
  • Music reviews and Spotify playlists: I’ll admit that over the years I’ve become a lazy music listener. I have a few go-to artists and genres that I listen to regularly, and the rest gets overlooked. By seeking out new music to listen to and write about I would almost certainly improve my understanding.
  • Controversial articles: If I’m so inclined, a good way to draw traffic to this blog would be to write articles with controversial headlines. Of course, I’m not sure that the goal of this blog is to generate as much traffic as possible.
  • Poems: I imagine that if Byron or Bukowski was around in this day and age, they would definitely be blogging, and probably posting poems on a daily basis. I haven’t written any poetry since college, but I bet if I got started again I would come up with some good ones. Even a simple haiku would make a lovely entry occasionally.

New Mandala board arrived today.

Check this out! New Mandala board arrived today.

Oh, did I not mention that in addition to developing Have Guitar Will Travel and writing daily on this blog, I’m also in the process of starting a board game company? Oops. Must have slipped my mind.

The company is called Stone Fox Games, I’m starting it with my mom Kay, and we are working towards releasing our first product, a new abstract strategy game called Mandala.

We have several prototype boards made at this point, a couple paper versions, two glass boards with stone pieces, and now this one, a beautiful handmade wooden board made for us by a woodworker friend (ironically his name is Woody, no joke) here in Canada.

We haven’t quite figured out how to get the game manufactured en masse yet but we’re looking into it. For now our goal is to develop a nice landing page for the game at the Stone Fox website so that we can collect folks’ email addresses in exchange for a free print-and-play version.

My Daily Routine

I was feeling inspired by Henry Miller’s list that I posted yesterday, so I thought I would put together my own list detailing the daily routine I intend to follow indefinitely from here on out:

  • Wake up and write. Get a cup of coffee, sit the fuck down, and knock out 1000 words for HGWT. No excuses. After that, put something together for this blog. Anything goes. You don’t have to publish on both blogs everyday, but you must publish daily.
  • Work out. Following your morning writing session, take an hour and go for a run or hit the weight room. Make sure you stretch afterward. If you’re tired or if the weather is bad, you can skip running/lifting and do yoga instead.
  • Take a break. Grab a book and hit the beach, go for a walk and explore the town or countryside, visit a museum or an art gallery, whatever. Just give your mind + body a rest and try to enjoy the beauty of the world around you.
  • Play guitar. Rehearse new music. Work on your songbook. Write a song. Prepare for your next performance. If you have a performance: perform. Aim to spend three to six hours actively engaging with music in some way, shape, or form.
  • Journal. In the evening after dinner, grab a cup of tea (or whiskey if you feel like it) and spend some time recording the events and thoughts of the day by hand in your notebook. Don’t worry about misspelled words or shoddy handwriting, just let your mind meander across the page and enjoy the sensation of writing.

Henry Miller’s 11 Commandments of Writing

Today I’d like to share with you one of my favorite lists, Henry Miller’s eleven commandments of writing, courtesy of Brain Pickings:

  1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to ‘Black Spring.’
  3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
  5. When you can’t create you can work.
  6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
  7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
  8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
  9. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
  10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
  11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

As I begin the task of developing Have Guitar Will Travel (HGWT, from here on out), I find Mr. Miller’s words a fitting reminder to myself to “concentrate, narrow down, and exclude”; to get my work done quickly and competently, without too much fuss.

The challenge for me with HGWT, as with this blog, is to keep moving forward in spite of (perceived) imperfections. I am often hung up on insignificant details or bogged down by overthinking; I must take care to not allow my neurotic tendencies to prevent me from finishing each article and moving onto the next in turn; to keep my focus in the distance, on the larger work.

How To Start A Blog, Pt. 2

I left out a significant detail in yesterday’s post: another reason for blogging daily is to improve myself, to do so publicly for the benefit of others like me, and to become part of an online community. I’ve spent the past several years reading various philosophy & self-improvement websites (sometimes referred to as the Manosphere or “Red Pill” sites), but I’ve failed to consistently apply the lessons learned. Inconsistently, yes, and not without gain, but not enough to significantly alter the course of my life… just enough to conclude that reading about self-improvement without taking action is masturbation.

I now seek to take action and write about my own course of self-improvement: to better myself in mind, body, and business, and become a respected writer and thinker, rather than just a reader. I’ve noticed that the men’s blogging community is dominated by athletic and entrepreneurial types, and thus as an artist I feel have a unique perspective to contribute to the group. Furthermore, as I get older (I’ll be thirty next year) I feel I have an obligation to write for the benefit of younger men who follow in my footsteps. Right now though, I believe the most important thing I can do is develop a consistent, productive routine and stabilize and streamline my life before dispensing advice to others. One ought to secure his own oxygen mask first, before anything else.

To that end, I’m going to use this blog to lay out my intentions for the next six months and record my progress towards them, as an experiment in public accountability. In the past I’ve used a journal for this sort of endeavor, but I’ve always come up a bit short on my intended goals, so I’m curious to see if this new method gives me better results.

As you may know, next month I’m shipping out to Australia for a five-month contract as a solo guitar-vocalist aboard the Pacific Eden. So the timeframe of this experiment roughly corresponds to the length of my contract. This is not a coincidence. I intend to spend the next six months in monk mode building my body and my business so that when I disembark from the Eden I will have two things: 1) a six-pack; and 2.) an automated source of passive income. So, without further ado, here are my goals for the next six months:

  • Lose weight and gain muscle (goal: <200 lbs, <15% body fat)
  • Clear my credit card debt & save >$1000
  • Establish haveguitarwilltravel.net as a source of income

Note: I will not necessarily write daily about my pursuit of these goals, but I will make regular updates as to my progress and deliver a full report in my post on March 1, 2018.

How To Start A Blog, Pt. 1

Write a little every day, without hope, without despair. — Isak Dinesen

I’ve been intending to start a blog for years, but I’ve been unsure of what to write about. It’s daunting to decide which of one’s thoughts are worth recording and which aren’t. For every sentence you put down, several others go unwritten, just as on a walk through the woods, each fork you pass leaves a path unexplored. I have often found this indecision paralyzing, hence my reticence.

Several times I’ve attempted to begin writing regularly about my music career. However, each time I’ve failed to achieve critical momentum, falling off after a few weeks or months of intermittent posts. This is likely related to the glacial pace at which my career seems to be developing. There’s simply not enough to write about if I restrict the scope of this blog to my musical work.

I’ve also considered writing about my philosophy on guitar, songwriting, and performance. However, I feel that’s too specialized of a subject for a blog published under my name. I am more than a musician, after all. Also, I have a lot to say on those subjects, and thus think it best to keep that material separate so as not to bore non-musical readers (hence Have Guitar Will Travel).

Now, after giving it some thought, I’ve concluded that my reason for blogging here at tylerpreston.com is three-fold:

  1. to develop my voice as a writer;
  2. to increase my knowledge of the world; and
  3. to record the events of my life for posterity.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to not specialize in any particular subject for the time being, and instead dedicate myself to the task of writing and posting daily. I’ve been an erstwhile diarist since my teens, so recording my life and thoughts here should come naturally. My hope is that the public nature of blogging will discourage my tendency to navel-gaze and fortify my writing with intention.

I’m interested in eventually writing about arts & culture, dating, fitness, masculinity, minimalism, politics, and psychology, among other things, but for now I may just content myself with recollecting day-to-day events… we’ll just have to see what all shakes out as I start writing the damn thing.