Stop trying to prove Jack Chick right you weirdos

Don’t take this too personally, but I’m convinced 95% of people shouldn’t bother voicing their opinions when dealing with people who argue in bad faith, because even when they are right they’ll bungle the point, and that’s worse than just keeping silent. Look at this nonsense from the dark corners of gaming social media:

Evil Hat Productions has been on a roll lately (just look at their ratios!) but even when they are clearly and obtuselly wrong, people still manage to bungle what should be a simple counterargument.

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Writing experiment

I’ve been running a little writing experiment these past months. What I found may be especially useful for those with little to no free time.

I don’t know about other people, but I have noticed that one of the most effective ways to stifle one’s creative flow is, quite simply, to go to sleep. I may have spent a couple hours before bedtime all absorbed as I worked on something and then said to myself that I’d continue the next day. Then I wake up the next day and… I forget all about it, as if the person who woke up that morning was a different one or sleeping triggered some sort of memory wipe. I guess the deep-rooted rituals and habits of daily life overwrite whatever thing your excited self from 8 hours ago thought was critical. More than once it took me days to remember that I still had something half-done lingering there in the computer. But by then the excitement had pretty much vanished and I had little to no interest in going back to it.

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November 18 post: Increase your writing output through meticulous timekeeping, precise reinforcements, and pure HATE

I mentioned in the previous post that writing is a very peculiar behavior, with a great chasm between its execution and hypothetical reward. That makes it hard to reinforce, to keep it consistent, comparable to similar activities with equally deferred rewards, like strength sports.

I thought I was being original when I wrote that but reading the papers I had ready for today’s post I noticed I was probably just paraphrasing one of them. It’s from a 1977 paper [1], which includes an introduction and discussion by a psychologist, but the core of the paper is the novelist Irving Wallace explaining his charts and timekeeping methods he used to become a professional writer.

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November 17 post: The psychology of writer’s block (¿and bodybuilding?)

“The treatment of writing problems offers a special challenge for clinical psychologists. In few other domains do patients pressure themselves to be so spontaneous, original and perfect.”

Those are the first two sentences from a psychology paper on writer’s block and the generation of creative ideas, by Robert Boice, published in 1983 [1] If I were to write a paper on those subjects, I’d probably start like Harry Frankfurt in his book On Bullshit, with something like:

One of the most salient features of the writer’s subculture is that there is so much bullshit.

This is uniquely relevant to the problem of writer’s block too, of course.

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Psychology of reading and writing: recalling vs. recognizing.

In a previous post, I mentioned I believe the usual advice given to writers (or, rather, to people who want to write) may not be that good, if not downright useless. And if one wants to be controversial, you might as well start with a big bang:

Read a lot. Reading will make you a better writer,” or variations of the same. It seems logical, common-sensical. But if you think about it, it’s a bit like saying that if you want to be a good musician, you should listen to a lot of music, or look at many paintings if you want to be a painter. A kind of craftsmanship by osmosis.

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The Guardian is really scraping the bottom of the barell here.

Among all the humiliating things one has to do to survive in the cutthroat and shameless world of Academia, being a criticaster of popular culture has to be the lowest point.  There are already a hundred theses on the unbearable sexism of Shakespeare or the colonialism of Kipling, so you’ll have to make do with a paper on the border-fascism of Plants vs. Zombies or the sexism of Super Mario. And forget about Elsevier or The Journal of Modern Literature, you’ll have to get published in The Guardian (and you’ll get paid according to how many people you trick into clicking the article):

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A fiction writer, a mysanthrope, and a behaviorist walk into a bar…

One of the most known quotes from the horror writer H. P. Lovecraft is

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. These facts few psychologists will dispute, and their admitted truth must establish for all time the genuineness and dignity of the weirdly horrible tale as a literary form.

from his Supernatural Horror in Literature (1927.) Many people recognize it, and it’s a thought attributed to him even though the next sentence states he thought it was (or wanted to present it as such) common knowledge: “These facts few psychologists will dispute.” He didn’t believe he was discovering anything new.

In any event, I believe I may have stumbled upon Lovecraft’s inspiration for his famous statement.

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