Key takeaways


  • To do something well you have to like it. (View Highlight)
  • If you have to like something to do it well, then the most successful people will all like what they do. (View Highlight)
  • As a lower bound, you have to like your work more than any unproductive pleasure. You have to like what you do enough that the concept of “spare time” seems mistaken. Which is not to say you have to spend all your time working. You can only work so much before you get tired and start to screw up. Then you want to do something else — even something mindless. But you don’t regard this time as the prize and the time you spend working as the pain you endure to earn it. (View Highlight)
    • Note: “If your work is not your favorite thing to do, you’ll have terrible problems with procrastination.”
  • I think the best test is one Gino Lee taught me: to try to do things that would make your friends say wow. (View Highlight)
    • Note: Impressing the smaller circle, not the entire world.
  • But liking the idea of being a novelist is not enough; you have to like the actual work of novel-writing if you’re going to be good at it; you have to like making up elaborate lies. (View Highlight)
  • It might be a good rule simply to avoid any prestigious task. If it didn’t suck, they wouldn’t have had to make it prestigious. (View Highlight)
    • Note: Ha! Something academics should hear.
  • Another test you can use is: always produce. For example, if you have a day job you don’t take seriously because you plan to be a novelist, are you producing? Are you writing pages of fiction, however bad? As long as you’re producing, you’ll know you’re not merely using the hazy vision of the grand novel you plan to write one day as an opiate. The view of it will be obstructed by the all too palpably flawed one you’re actually writing. (View Highlight)
  • But it would require a great moral effort; it would mean staring failure in the eye every day for years. And so to protect themselves people say “I can’t.” (View Highlight)
    • Note: The discrepancy between taste and ability.
  • It’s also wise, early on, to seek jobs that let you do many different things, so you can learn faster what various kinds of work are like. (View Highlight)
    • Note: Explore/Exploit