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The Whippet #104: It's a joke but it's also sincere

McKinley Valentine — 3 min read

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Good morning!

I talked last issue (scroll down) about the difference between a tactical retreat and a rout—about how, if you’re struggling to maintain a habit or a plan, you should stop and make a new, more achievable plan rather than let everything completely collapse.

It was super-important to me to make The Whippet a non-negotiable commitment, because as soon as I give myself permission to skip a fortnight here and there, I’d end up just falling out of the habit of writing completely.

One way I have of doing that is Mini Whippets (aka Italian Greyhounds), which is what you’re reading now. In other words, I always have to send something out, that’s the commitment I made to myself, but if I’m travelling, or burned out, or sick, I have this smaller version to fall back on.


Unsolicited Advice: When you decide on a habit, also decide on a fallback version of that habit, one you can do even if you’re travelling or burned out or sick, so you can keep your commitment to yourself, and not lose faith in your own ability to get stuff done.

Some people go with ‘too small too fail’ habits like “Open up a Word document” or “get changed into gym clothes”. For The Whippet, it’s more like an MVP (minimum viable product)—what’s the smallest version of it that would still ‘count’?

My brain knows perfectly well that changing into gym clothes isn’t exercise, so the ‘too small to fail’ hack doesn’t really work for me, although it does for others so try it if you haven’t. For me it needs to be something I’d view as meaningful progress. Three sentences of fiction will actually end up as a 2000-word story some day, whereas just opening up the Word doc never will.

But it’s not really about the progress, it’s about what tricks work on your specific brain, and how much fear you need to overcome for the task.


(PS I’m not sick or anything. This week I’m recording another podcast episode for The First Time, this time solo, and giving a guest lecture on newsletter-writing for the Swinburne Professional Writing & Editing course, both of which I’m very excited about, but I know I’ll be stressed if I don’t give myself time to prep for them.)

100 Demon Dialogues

Comics about creative self-doubt by Lucy Bellwood. These two panels, oof. Hi.

Read the other 98 (scroll down for the comics themselves).

Same house from a different angle.

(NUMTOTs = New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens. It’s a Facebook group for people interested in public transport, civic architecture, urban planning, etc. Just as an aside, I’m finding it increasingly hard to explain that specific post-irony social media vibe of “it’s a joke but it’s also sincere” to people who aren’t Terminally Online.)

Two ways to make your twitter experience better

  1. This extension (Chrome, Firefox, user script), which hides Trending Topics and other distracting sidebar content, ensures timelines is always chronological, generally cleans up clutter, as well as a few other neat features you can try out in options.

  2. Timed Mutes, a browser app you’ll want to bookmark. Sometimes someone you follow on twitter is like, livetweeting all 8000 episodes of The Bold and the Beautiful as some kind of stunt, and you just can’t be having it, but you don’t actually want to unfollow them because you like what they have to say usually. Timed Mutes lets you mute them for the time period of your choice.

  3. But McKinley, surely if twitter is that annoying, you could just—

    Thanks all!

    Longer issue next fortnight, if there’s anything you want to talk about, please enjoy this button:

    Leave a comment

    I read them all! And usually reply!

    I always feel weird sharing the Patreon link when it’s only a mini-Whippet but one time someone emailed me to say they couldn’t find it and it was a hassle for them because they had to go find a back issue, so, it’s here.


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