If you’re anything like me, one of the hardest questions to answer is “What do you do?” It’s one of those inquiries where a huge asymmetry exists between the simplicity of the question and the complexity of the answer. There’s so much about yourself to distill into a response, and the more brief it is, the less authentic it appears to be.
With that said, I recognize the utility of summarizing my interests, so earlier this year I tried to do just that. I asked myself how I can succinctly capture what I do creatively into a few words, and after many iterations of this exercise, I landed on this statement:
Of course, if I were at a party I would elaborate on it further (imagine me saying that and then just staring at the person), but if my current work needed a tagline of sorts, that would be it. I write about so many topics that seem unrelated on its surface, knowing that they ultimately connect to form the tapestry of our shared humanity.
In today’s reflection, I wanted to address why exactly the human condition as a whole fascinates me, and what I believe we can all learn from thinking through it deeper. Because in an era where technology and culture attracts so much attention, it’s important to remember that the fixed element of human nature is what will ultimately shape the trajectory of our species.
When you’re ready, let’s dive in:
A few months ago, I joined Akta of the Passionfroot team for a nice chat about all things creativity. She was particularly interested in how More To That has found a wide audience given my lack of interest in growth hacks, and we spent some time discussing how storytelling plays a big role in this.
The team did a great job editing the video of this conversation, so if you’re keen on checking it out, I suggest you watch the video version of the podcast below. Enjoy.
The Learning Game by Ana Lorena Fabrega — As parents, one of the topics my wife and I often discuss is the current state of education, and how it could be improved. While it’s easy to lament the system as a whole, we also realize how difficult it is to come up with actionable solutions to it.
Well, in that respect, Ana’s book has been such a welcoming gift to our household. It’s filled with so many insights that you can implement now or save for later, depending on your situation. For example, instead of viewing traditional school and homeschool as binary options (like people usually do), you can see it as spectrum. Your child can attend traditional school, but you can choose one topic to teach at home for a few hours each week.
The book is filled with reframes like this, and is written in a clear and compelling manner. If the future of education is something you often think about, then Ana’s book is a wonderful guide through the terrain.
As a writer, you can use the craft in two important ways:
(1) To present your ideas, and
(2) To figure out what you think about an idea.
I refer to the results of #1 as stories, and the results of #2 as reflections. In fact, longtime readers know that this is how I delineate my work on More To That itself.
When you’re a writing a story, you’re taking time to sculpt it, knowing that the end result is a presentation of many things you’ve thought about deeply. These are the pieces that have the potential to reach wider audiences because it’s written in a way where you’ve carefully considered how the ideas may stick and resonate with readers.
But when you’re writing a reflection (like the one I shared today), you’re thinking less about an audience and more about your own explorations of a given idea. You’re figuring out what you think about something, and allowing the process of writing to reveal that. They are often written quickly yet coherently enough so that you’ve gained clarity by the time you’re done.
If you struggle with perfectionism, try writing more reflections and publishing them at quicker intervals. That way you’re not spending a ton of time wondering if you’ve gotten a big story right before you publish it. What’s important is that you frequently write to cultivate your sense of style, which can then be used to create great stories that exude your unique identity to others.
How do you answer the “What do you do” question? Do you have a succinct statement that summarizes your response, or do you tend to give a long reply that attempts to explain that response?
Very curious about this one, so feel free to share your thoughts.
As always, hit reply to share any thoughts, to respond to the parting question, or to simply say hello. I love hearing from you.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to share this email with anyone who might enjoy it. Have a great rest of your week!
P.S. If you want to learn how to write reflections like the one I shared today, check out my writing course, The Examined Writer.
If you want to learn how to draw illustrations like the ones you see on the blog, check out my drawing course, Draw Your Words.
P.P.S. Thanks to Denis Defreyne for adding your support on Patreon! It means so much. If you’d like to support More To That and get access to exclusive AMAs, offline posts, and other reflections, join as a patron today.
by Lawrence Yeo
Illustrated stories on the human condition.
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