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October 16th, 2020
Consistent effort over a long enough timeline makes the subtle become obvious. For example, that leading sentence which just opened this episode - it has a certain cadence to it, a certain crispness of finality. It’s got the sort of structure and sharpness that would make a decent tweet in the corner of Twitter where platitudes and updated wisdom are peddled everyday. But what exactly does that first sentence even mean? Consistent effort over a long enough timeline makes the subtle become obvious. What exactly is the subtle thing that becomes obvious?
If you believe the self-aggrandizing description of the sentence in terms of the way it sounds, then this works as an excellent example of an insidious fact about our communication as a species, which is encapsulated by a far more meaningful aphorism:
It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.
Politicians, CEO’s, used-car salesmen, snake oil peddlers, we liken them to liars, but this is always after the fact. All of them can be truthful without actually having the words register, making the listener believe they’ve heard something totally different. A powerful orator can speak complete nonsense, but if it’s delivered with powerful emotion and a physical display of conviction, much of the audience will be lulled into the notion that this speaker really knows what they are talking about.
Now to return to that nearly meaningless sentence that began this episode of Tinkered Thinking: Consistent effort over a long enough timeline makes the subtle become obvious. What this sentence refers to most specifically is itself. After 900 some-odd days or writing these episodes for Tinkered Thinking, some trends in the way words arise for this daily effort have become obvious. For example, the tendency to try and start off with a strong sounding sentence, or the plethora of questions that have populated the opening paragraphs of many episodes. These were subtle aspects of the process that become almost annoyingly obvious after so many days of writing. The feeling of the words, as they bubble up starts to feel formulaic. Of course, this isn’t always true, some episodes are better than others and the best carve their own form and structure in a way that doesn’t feel forced, but feels like a genuine exploration. For the plateaus in the effort and the lulls in inspiration, the brain seems to default back to relying on more formulaic ways of producing something, and after enough time, these default structures become more and more obvious, which is at first a bit annoying, even disappointing, but more importantly, these structures reveal themselves, and in so doing, they leave themselves open to conscious editing.
Uncovering these elusive structures is certainly one of the key benefits to a consistent practice, regardless of the skill. The desire to get better gets ahold of that new area to explore and begins to develop new methods for discovering new ways to communicate.