A Sober Self-Assessment
Warren Lain
154

Thanks for writing this, I can definitely relate. From what I see, you project the presence of way more than just one guy, whether it’s the number of works, the perfectionism, the structure, the branding, etc. That can be a lot to carry, and I imagine being present on so many fronts can make for many small setbacks that sap the fun and motivation. Scaling back in some ways may make it easier to focus on the things which you enjoy doing, and lean into your strengths, but clearly this is easier said than done.

For some perspective, I will share my struggle with motivation. I see a lot of the same stuff you mentioned, but procrastination is kind of the common thread for me. It’s weird but I often dread finishing projects, almost as if preemptively mourning their completion. After all, being in the middle of something which still holds mystery, interest, and challenge, is the best part. The rest of it feels like empty labor. I was spoiled in a way by studying math in college, where it’s all mystery and challenge until you are done. Once you figure it out (a proof, say), that’s it. There is no boring part to get it “done.” But almost nothing else in life is like that, and the truth is there is plenty of challenge and surprise in the “empty labor” part, too.

What I have learned from starting to learn guitar at age 30 is to take the labor part a little at a time when not very motivated (kind of echoing the SMART goals thing) and to take advantage when I do feel motivated and do way more. Take, for example, your lesson on “Paranoid Android”. When I first saw it 5 years ago, I kind of just laughed and went back to my 2 open chords. Since then, I kept going back to it every year or so, and it wasn’t until last year that I felt, ok, let’s try this thing. 2 months later, I could kind of get through part 1. Still working on it, but now I can tell I will get the whole thing down. Almost dreading/mourning finishing it as I always do, but I know I still have years to improve once I do get there.

By the way, the thing you offhandedly say at the end of that tutorial video was the most reassuring thing ever at the time: “You with me? All the beginners are like ‘No!’ (laugh) That’s ok, you’ll get it. Practice. It’ll come with time.” I think this exemplifies one of your strengths as a teacher. To reassure without dismissing or condescending, and to point out those things which are supposed to be difficult, even as you make them seem effortless.

Keep it up, man. And thank you for what you do.

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