Arbitrary Rules

I dig up my rule about the word “that” every so often, take it out for a walk, and see how people respond to it. 

There’s always the crowd who is ready to say “yeah, but what about using ‘that’ in *this* case.” 

Like most people on the internet, the point is missed because it’s too hard to read between the lines.

Improving upon anything requires a certain set of rules. In every case, these rules are absolutely arbitrary. In every case, the rules remove the shortcuts and keep you from doing second-nature kind of stuff. 

The point: make the practice harder so you can eventually be better at it. Make it harder so you can learn something.

When you give someone free range, they tend to produce fairly mediocre results. 

Force yourself, book only four, five days in the studio and force yourself to record an album in that time. Deadlines make you creative.

I tell myself not to use “that” whenever possible, and my sentences improve 100% of the time because of it. Or telling myself I only have 20 minutes to write and publish a blog every morning forces me to think faster and make tighter arguments within those 20 minutes. 

Sure, not every one of these is a hit, but they get better in the long run. 

A dancer who only allows left turns appreciates the right.

A bartender who only allows three ingredients makes a better cocktail.

Four-word campaign slogans tend to win.

Telling yourself to press "publish" in 20 minutes, no matter what, turns those 20 minutes into gold.

If you think you are at the top of your game, find a meaningless rule to start following for a little while. Comfort is the first step to failure.