..on creativity, technology, culture, the web, and more

A Brief History of RecordBox

- Apurva | Comments

Hello folks, it’s been a while since I posted here. Truth be told, I have been working on writing a brief history of the creation of my first business, RecordBox.

Do check out the story on my personal blog and let me know what you’ll think!

Weekend Video: A Darwinian Theory of Beauty

- Apurva | Comments

Many months ago I came across this thought provoking TED talk from Denis Dutton on a Darwinian theory of beauty.

Mr. Dutton’s theory posits that our sense of beauty is an evolutionary adaptation. Our universal appreciation of skilled work, the objects and experiences we find appealing, the things we find repelling. All these are the results of natural and sexual selection.

This talk presents this simple thesis in a very compelling and entertaining way.

While I concede that this talk is largely academic, it nonetheless got my juices flowing and my mind moving. That’s why I highly recommend it.

Letting Our Subconscious Do the Work - Pt. 2

- Apurva | Comments

In my previous post, I shared some thoughts on how the machinations of our subconscious leads to ‘aha’ moments. I mentioned that striking the right balance between focussed work and complete rest was crucial for enabling our subconscious to do its thing. I promised to write a followup post documenting my thoughts and techniques for achieving this balance.

This is the followup post. My technique for increasing my odds of experiencing ‘aha’ moments involves four components:

  1. showing up regularly with the right intention,
  2. stopping work at the right time,
  3. consciously reflecting on each session of work,
  4. making a clean break when away from work.

In this post, I will write about the what, why, and how of each of those activities.

Letting Our Subconscious Do the Work

- Apurva | Comments

We have all had those ‘aha’ moments. Those moments where inspiration strikes like a bolt from the blue. Those moments where we get a revealing idea in a dream, in the shower, or while taking a walk.

More often than not, we have these moments while taking a break from active, conscious, focus. We have them after we stop our practice, after we stop working on our design, or after we stop writing code.

What is happening? Can we understand this phenomenon and structure our practice so that these bolts of inspiration strike more regularly?

In this post, I share a couple of ideas on what happens when we take breaks from active work. In future posts, I will write about how I use these ideas to structure my practice.

Why We Get Nervous and What We Can Do About It

- Apurva | Comments

Why do we get nervous when we have to put ourselves out in front of others?
When we have to perform music?
When we have to speak publicly?
When we ship a product?

Nerves always work to our detriment. They result in in a lack of ease, in a lack of fluidity. Nerves are the reason why our performance always feels so much worse than our practice. They are stress inducers which sap energy and motivation.

What can we do about nerves? Read on for techniques which have worked for me. Hint: there are no silver bullets!

Weekend Video: A New Way to Think About Creativity

- Apurva | Comments

This weekend I would like to share an interesting TED talk about creativity. In this talk Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, contends that there aren’t any ‘geniuses’. Instead, all of us are born ‘with a genius’. She says that truly inspired work occurs when our genius expresses herself through us us.

I think the idea that inspiration ‘hits us from the outside’ is worth pondering upon. It is a very non-egotistical way to look at creation, and a view which I personally subscribe to.

This also agrees with the sentiments of many a great musician. You will often hear them say that your mind is like soil. Your practice is to till the soil with utmost care. If you till it long enough and with enough care, then music will plant her seed in you. But if you are brash or impatient, she will never come.

I personally believe that this dynamic applies to all creative activities. You have to practice honestly and mindfully. And you have to practice patiently for a long time. Only then will your muse begin to express herself through you.

The video follows.

Setting Goals

- Apurva | Comments

Goals are essential for maintaining focus over the long term; they are crucial for tying discrete actions together; they are indispensable for measuring progress and correcting course.

Good goal setting is an art. If you master the art, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to, given enough time. But if you do it wrong, you dreams and ambitions can be stifled.

I have been diligently setting goals for more than five years across many diverse creative disciplines. In the process, I have learnt a few things which have worked for me. Read on to find out what these are.

There Are Only Two Ways to Do Things

- Apurva | Comments

Fundamentally, there are two ways of doing things: mindfully, for the sake of the thing itself, or egotistically, for the sake of the result.

You can journal, single-task, and create the right conditions for flow. But without an awareness of these opposing attitudes toward what you do, all of that will be for naught.

What are the characteristics of each of these attitudes? How are they different? And how do you tell which attitude is predominant in your actions?

Some Scary Stats on Multi-Tasking

- Apurva | Comments

While surfing the Internet today, I came upon some scary statistics concerning the multi-tasking habits of American adults.

The findings indicated that a full 56% of adults do more than one thing while watching TV, with younger adults multi-tasking even more. What’s more, only 3% of adults don’t watch TV at all. Finally, these multi-tasking trends are getting more pronounced year-on-year.

Read on for the stats and for some thoughts on why I think this is a dangerous trend for creative people.

Balancing Top-Down and Bottom-Up

- Apurva | Comments

In a previous post, I wrote about what a great tool journalling is for getting things done.

Journalling involves managing your day-to-day activity by writing down specific goals, doing them, and then writing down what was achieved. It helps in staying focussed. And it feels good because it gives you a sense of control and accomplishment.

But that kind of top-down, command-and-control thinking does not help with creating new things. Why is this? And can we do about it?