Fuck Around and Find Out

The more you fuck around, the more you’re going to find out – a basic concept eloquently illustrated by a man with a graph. 

Austin Kleon shared this TikTok clip a while ago and captioned it “The creative process.” It is the simplest summary of creativity. You fuck around with an idea to find out what works and what doesn’t. 

Whenever I fuck around, I find out what I already knew but insist on forgetting time and again. I rediscover that novelty is always exciting, coming up with many ideas is much more thrilling than nurturing one, structure sucks and it’s far easier to start a new project than finish an old one. 

But whether I’m lacking self-discipline or I was just born this way, the challenge stems from an insistence on fitting a mould that wasn’t made for me.

Giving yourself permission to break away from the conventional and invent your own framework is something every creative must learn. Yet despite several years of writing experience, I’m still learning to trust my creative instincts and not rely too heavily on the affirmation of others. Whether that affirmation arrives via explicit praise from my peers or more implicitly through how closely it resembles what other art has come before. 

Not even my blogging or newslettering has been safe from such doubts. Taking inspiration from a range of content writers, I have tried several times to impose semi-rigid formats on myself. The goal was to create a familiar structure, easily replicated time and again, to gain your trust as a reader. The intention: every time my name pops up on your screen, you know what you’re getting. 

Only every time I outline a template for my writing, I become quickly dissatisfied shortly after its implementation. I find far more joy in creating structure than working within it. 

With this in mind, I’m going to try and throw out all attempts at a singular repeatable format and see what comes. And so I wanted to use this post to share a bunch of random things that have interested me in the past few weeks…

On the subject of fucking around – or more cleanly put, playing around – I loved this interview with Lynda Barry on the importance of child’s play. This quote, in particular, stood out to me:

There’s total amnesia of the experience of deep play. When you’re an adult watching a kid playing with a little toy, you just think that kid’s doing that and there’s nothing else to it. But from the kid’s perspective that toy is playing with them. It’s interactive. There’s amnesia about the deepness of that interchange and amnesia about how when you’re making a story or making a painting it’s that same sort of interchange, and having that is what you’re born to do.

Sometimes I think my love of writing and conjuring new fictional worlds is rooted in a longing for my childhood days. A yearning for a lost time, when I fully immersed myself in my imagination without fear of judgement or a notion of good taste. 

Occasionally, I’ve asked myself: Do I really want to write a novel, or do I just miss playtime? 

Recreating that playfulness and recapturing that childhood wonder on the page is certainly a current goal of mine.

There’s also another quote from the article I thought worth highlighting:

I’ve found that engaging in this kind of work — anything that adults call art and that kids might call a toy; that contains something alive — seems to make me feel that life is worth living. It’s a thing I always say to my students: Art is a public-health concern because it keeps you from killing yourself and others.

Hear! Hear!

Hardback cover of Fire and Blood by George R. R. Martin

I finished reading George R. R. Martin’s Fire and Blood. I’ve loved House of the Dragon (aka HOTD) so far. Naturally, I was eager to read the source material for more context – and to get ahead of the show. 

Written like a history text, I was unsure how well I’d take to the book, initially. But it’s just as gripping as A Song of Ice and Fire, and I was in no rush to reach the end. Several moments forced me to put the book aside so that I might take a moment to calm my broken heart. And the Good Queen Alysanne now ranks as my favourite Targaryen. 

Although, the most recent episode of HOTD (“Lord of the Tides”) has compelled me to think much, much higher of King Viserys. Paddy Considine turned a middling king on paper into a tragic and wonderfully complex character on the screen. His clambering up the steps of the Iron Throne, assisted by his rogue brother, and the family supper both had me weeping. These scenes are made evermore heartwrenching with the knowledge that a merciless bloodbath is to follow in the seasons to come.

Innuendo Studios released a new episode of The Alt-Right Playbook. This is one of my favourite YouTube series that I revisit often. Illustrated effectively with simple but fun drawings, these video essays are excellent at dissecting alt-right tactics. Certain videos even shine a spotlight on certain ideologies. 

Always a Bigger Fish” and “I Hate Mondays” really altered my perspective of conservatism. Whilst “You Go High, We Go Low” highlighted the flawed worldview inherent to liberalism. 

The Cost of Doing Business” does a superb job of explaining the importance of anti-racism and examines how many white people think about (or prefer not to think about) whiteness. It’s a good dissection of how the dominant political parties in the US use people of colour as political tools. (This applies to the UK as well.) 

I’d recommend giving it a watch. The whole series, even. “How to Radicalize a Normie” was my first foray into the series and touches upon a subject I have first-hand experience with.

Whilst we’re on the topic of politics, Owen Jones’ coverage of the Tory conference is maddening to watch. Even if I were not to self-censor here and unleashed the full extent of my anger, I still do not think there are sufficient words to express how disgusted I am by these people.

The Tories featured in this video unashamedly show themselves to be overprivileged, contemptuously selfish, stubbornly ignorant and wholly committed to blaming everyone else other than themselves. Party of personal responsibility indeed!

Anyway, I think that’s enough rambling. A quick note on my own writing…

I have now created pages for a couple of flash-fictions I wrote last year. “Dreaming in Permafrost” is most certainly the stronger of the two, but I think “Book Meets Girl” is a nice, sweet little tale from a book’s POV. 

They’re a bit different from my usual stuff. I am also working on a longer short fiction piece, which is more in line with the sci-fi/fantasy I prefer to write.

I’ve learnt not to make promises about anything I write, but if the writing does go well then you’ll certainly know about it.

Further Reading: