Observation Journal — unsubstantiated manifesto

This observation journal page features strong but deliberately not particularly thought-through opinions — and also a council employee dancing dramatically with a whippersnipper.

Double-page spread of observation journal. Left page contains lists of five things seen, read, and done, and a tiny pen drawing of a box with flowers on the sides. The right page is a manifesto described below.

The exercise is from Elizabeth McCracken, who tweeted:

"I gave a new assignment to my workshop: write a short manifesto of things you absolutely believe about fiction without caring if they're wrong or apply to anybody else's work."

I enjoyed this type of manifesto much more than some introspective ones (see: Manifestos (ugh)). It’s rather fun being unreflectively and unsupportedly opinionated. Here’s the list as it stood then (with some commentary):

  • Art should be just absolutely infested with so-subtle-its-invisible allusions & references & foreshadowing. [I don’t like doing puzzles, so I kind of hate this as a viewer, but as long as I don’t expect anyone else to pick up on them, it’s an excellent way to add texture.]
  • Movement trumps accuracy. [I went to the She-Oak and Sunlight exhibition and just sighed a lot at hurrying flecks of people busying themselves across canvases in one or two smears of paint.]
  • Expression ditto.
  • Aesthetic is king. [Guillermo del Toro makes movies for illustrators]
  • Keep it chatty. [An excuse or a philosophy?]
  • Space should be filled with a network of bits.
  • Tinier is easier (it isn’t).
  • With enough SIZE or REPETITION anything can become fine art.
  • The soul of most composition is just this: be deliberate.
  • Why realism, though?
  • Texture and colour like icing is a heaven closed to me. [I write so I can be painterly — there are passages in Flyaway that are deliberately me using e.g. Tom Roberts’ palette and light.]

Revisiting this after almost a year, I don’t think my feelings have changed significantly (although some are being tested, though not threatened, by recent projects). However I’ve been thinking more about them, ever since writing them down. Some have turned into exercises and workshops; some have helped me make clearer decisions; some are lessons I never learn.

Here is another element that emerged from the journal! It’s a tiny note on which jagged leaf shapes were most fun to draw (at least in ballpoint pen).

Cropped section of the left page of the observation journal, with tiny jagged drawn leaves loosely coloured in green water and a note that says "Discovered [picture of loopy jagged leaf] is more fun (& easier) to draw than [long sawtooth leaf] or [rounder jagged leaf]"

Together with some ornaments from a summary page, these leaves made it into the May 2020 calendar (also demonstrating repetition, small drawing, and filling up space with bits).

A pattern of unicorns, stars, and vines with small jagged leaves, on a twilight green-blue background
The design is available on Redbubble on cushions, throws, clothes, etc, and on Spoonflower as fabric and wallpaper.

Note: If you’d like to support art and writing and posts like this about it, I have a Patreon account (patreon.com/tanaudel) and patrons there get behind-the-scenes process and sneak-peeks, starting from US$1, or you could buy me a (virtual) coffee at ko-fi.com/tanaudel (and I get through quite a bit of coffee).

Observation Journal — stalling and stopping

This page of the observation journal is about where my work was stalling and why (also Agatha Christie and guitar).

Double-page spread of observation journal. On left page, 5 things seen, heard, done and a picture. On the right, a hand-written table of thoughts on why I wasn't getting work done.

My position in relation to introspection is fairly well advertised. It’s not what I, personally, enjoy using the observation journal for, and too long a course of it will make me stop keeping a journal at all. However, the journal has been very useful for working out ways to muse over things in ways that are practical for me.

In particular, rough tables suit how I think: I can concentrate on just jotting notes, and then look for patterns, and not write myself into a spiralling pit of angst or ennui.

In this case, I was looking at Where I Was Stalling & Why.

A hand-written table of thoughts on why I wasn't getting work done.

This was in April 2020, so I need to say up-front that this list alone did not fix anything. I still am digging my way out of some stalled projects from last year. However, it taught me a lot about what to avoid. It’s also fascinating to revisit now, where I’m setting up for some new large projects.

Here are the columns:

  • Project list (cunningly mis-named to protect those involved)
  • Quick thoughts on why I might be stalling.
    • Just high-level thoughts on what was going wrong (an unpleasant mixture of inertia and panic).
    • It was good doing this on multiple projects. Occasionally a note on one project would make me realise it applied to another. And once it was done, I could look for patterns. The main patterns were:
      • (Loss of) impetus and (loss of) enjoyment
      • Lack of pressure + competing distractions
      • Guilt + stuck-together-in-door
      • Doubt
  • Ways I could fix those situations.
    • The most magical fixes were, boringly yet thrillingly:
      • Accepting there is no one right task (and therefore no ‘wrong’ choice).
      • Picking anything — why not the first thing on the list?
      • Setting a timer for fifteen (or 30) minutes to concentrate on solving just one of the issues (it worked and the project in question is out). This is the only solution that works for me almost 100% of the time. I’m always wildly irritated that it works.
        (There’s a reason Evaline Ness’ Do You Have The Time, Lydia speaks to me.)
  • Ways I could avoid those situations happening again.
    • These turned out to be mostly same reasons projects catch fire in the first place (see: Observation Journal — giving ideas a push):
      • Acting immediately
      • Using (and surfing) the fun of it
      • Setting aside the time
      • Doing the prep work
Pen sketch of person sitting on steps playing guitar
I only practice the guitar during natural disasters

As an aside, I’ve recently found Charlie Gilkey’s Start Finishing useful on aspects of managing multiple projects. It’s the sort of book I suspect is most useful if you’ve already got a robust understanding of how you manage your work, and of how to approach time management books, and can therefore apply/mine it for specific solutions. I found myself resisting the structure/phrasing of the book itself the whole way through, but it’s also been one of the most useful things I’ve read for a while.

Writing/art exercise

  • Think of a project that you are stalled on (or want to start, or don’t have the skills for, or…). The first one that springs to mind, or else pull it out of a hat.
  • Set a timer for 15 (or 30) minutes.
  • Until the timer goes off, you can either work on the project or stare at the project. But you can’t do anything else. (You might have to consider your definition of “work”. I generally exclude planning and research, unless it’s extremely obvious the lack of that is what is stopping me moving forward — which is rarely the case. Related to which, this pamphlet (Turbocharge Your Writing) is one of the most practically useful writing books I’ve ever read.)
  • The few times this doesn’t push either me or the project forward, it later turns out that staring time was what the project actually required. (This is specific to my experience and how I work, but I hope the worst case of this exercise just means you got 15 minutes quiet thinking time).

Observation journal — space and time and small epiphanies

One of the unexpected results of the observation journal project was that it provided a thread through 2020 — something colourful holding it together, and occasionally a way to work out what was happening.

I’ve mentioned several times that the journal helped me to clarify (and work around the fact) that I don’t enjoy extended introspection (see e.g. Observation journal: flirting with contagion, and soothing with reflection and the links there). But from time to time the journal was a usefully contained place to work out why I felt a certain way (instead of analysing stories and motifs about which I felt strongly, which was more fun).

These two pages were a week apart. The context was April 2020.

On the first, I was trying to work out 10 WAYS TO ACTUALLY STOP AND NOT FRITTER:

Scan of two handwritten journal pages. On the left are five things seen, heard, and done, and a drawing of a slug trail. On the right is a list of thoughts about how not to fritter away time.

My go-to emergency relaxation/circuit breaker is going to the movies. (It’s air conditioned and you can’t wander off and do something else around the house and sometimes there are large explosions). Making a list of other available (and actually relaxing) options was… not helpful, in that most of my go-tos had vanished. There was no-one to sketch, and the cafes were closed, and I couldn’t meander on errands, and most other options either ran up against or turned into actual work at some point.

It was illuminating, though. I never quite worked out better alternatives (my housemate and I did watch a lot of Midsomer Murders and Miss Marple). But it made me realise that although I thought I was already working from home, I really wasn’t.

This led to the page below, in which I was TRYING TO FIX WORKSPACE.

Scan of two handwritten journal pages. On the left are five things seen, heard, and done, and a drawing of Lindt chocolate rabbit. On the right are several tables breaking down work time and space.

I had worked from home, yes, but actually from two desks, both sofas, both ends of the kitchen table, bed, and (for various purposes) the spare room and store room. I’d also been working from my desk at uni, other people’s offices, several classrooms, two campus cafes, two local cafes, etc, etc, and quite often those each served a different project. (The eagle-eyed will also spot at least 11 categories of project, and conclude that might be TOO MANY, but it took me a bit longer to work that out.)

But I’d also been living alone for a couple years. In January my new housemate moved in, and then of course everything outside shut down and my housemate also suddenly had to work from home (none of this is a complaint — we’ve had a great year). So my working space was compressed to one desk, one sofa, one end of the table, and bed. Which is quite a lot of room, really, if I’d noticed what was happening. But I didn’t, and all the projects began crowding each other, mentally and physically.

Just realising this — sketching it out on one page and going oh — helped a lot. My mind was a bit cacophonous in April 2020.

The best practical/physical changes turned out to be as follows:

  • I took everything that wasn’t a computer off my desk. This created the illusion of elbow room.
  • My housemate and I both bought some rolling caddies (a la the RÅSKOG, and off-brand equivalents).
  • Each trolley was assigned a broad project category (i.e. general art supplies/admin/teaching).
  • The trolleys were herded out of the way at night. By day, the relevant trolley would be dragged alongside the relevant space, creating the illusion of a dedicated workspace.
  • We also bought a TV (my first for about 8 years!) and a rolling stand, so it could be trundled into place for Evening, and back out of the way for work.

Observation Journal: A sketch, a bear, success

Hand-written page of observation journal, with 5 things seen, heard, and done, and a drawing of a Zoom meeting.

The activity on the opposite page of this observation journal spread is not shown, because it was a fairly standard “how do you define success”/”how does your field define success” set of questions borrowed from an interview. The interesting points for me, then and in retrospect, were that it underscored that I like having time & freedom to do what I want (which turns out to be writing and drawing). But I don’t like excessive introspection so I won’t inflict that on you.

But I wanted to include this page, because I sketched my very first Zoom meeting. More innocent times.

It was also the day Sue brought around this beautiful polar bear (see: Pursued by a (small) bear!):

Head of a model polar bear.

Observation Journal — a tremor in the web

[NB: On Friday night (US)/Saturday morning (AUS) I’m talking about Flyaway and art and writing games for the Storied Imaginarium!]

On this page of the observation journal, I was again looking at questions from the recorded interviews set for the class I was teaching.

Double-spread from the observation journal. Two densely hand-written pages. On the left, a page with five things each that I had seen, heard and done, with a picture. On the right, answers to some questions about creative process.

By this point I’d worked out (through the journal: e.g. 1, 2, 3…) that I, personally, should avoid super-introspective questions. Your mileage may vary! As always, a large part of the usefulness of the observation journal is not so much the answers on the page as what I notice about the process of putting the answers on the page.

At any rate, I can eventually learn things, so in this case I deliberately chose questions from the interviews that felt like they inclined towards actions/useful information.

[Note: The first three questions are adapted from those developed by Associate Professor Kim Wilkins and Dr Skye Doherty for interviews with people in various creative industries, for the University of Queensland course HUMN3700: Creativity — myths, methods and impact.]

  • How important are noticing and observation to [my] creative practice?
    • (The observation journal itself is obviously a key part of this.)
    • The process of sitting up and taking notice mid-way through a project is very useful. If I’m stuck on something, I’ll sometimes look around the room and try to add in a reference to (or a texture from…) something I can see. If nothing else, it will shake things up.
    • But it’s particularly important as an incidental/ambient part of what I do. As a library and a toolbox and a habit. As practice in the sense of doing scales on the piano. This is why, in addition to observation activities (observation exercises, ROYGBIV, etc) I also like games and exercises that let me pull out and rearrange and play with things I’ve already noticed and know. For example: Observation Journal — tables and other locations; The Key to All Mythologies.
  • When do you get a sense that you can create something?
    • There are always ways to make something — knowing that aspect of the craft and/or the material helps a lot (and a lot of the journal involves that). But there’s also a distinct feeling when a thing seems to come with its own momentum, as if it wants to be made.
    • At this point, it felt like that feeling was usually attributable to three things:
      • Inspiration, in the form of a lot of creative input (exposure to other people’s work, to sources of ideas, or just to other people busily making things).
      • Desperation (I think now this is also a type of momentum — it usually happens when I’m being productive on other things. It’s just that I notice it more when the limits of time and space then stop me adding on new activities).
      • Boredom (the kind you have when there are no sources of distraction).
  • How do you tell which of your observations are worth developing?
  • The new question: Basically, I decided to try stopping (after coming up with ideas) and asking myself which ideas I liked and which I didn’t and then (and this is the important part) WHY.
    • I quickly ran a few recent ideas through that format, which revealed:
      • Ideas that felt as if they might have life had a feeling of narrative impetus, aesthetic charm, a through-line and an innate arc (those two might be the same thing)
      • Ideas that didn’t quite resonate had in common a structure without inhabitants (no people or viewpoint to hang it on), an aesthetic that didn’t charm me, and elements without an arc.
    • This meant I could make a note to further work on understanding the things that worked (e.g. what aesthetics charm me and why) and some tools to deal with ideas that haven’t quite come to life yet (e.g. narrative exoskeletons).

Densely hand-written answers to questions about creative process.

Writing/art/journal exercises:

  • If you listen to an interesting interview with someone in your field (or any field, really), instead of (or in addition to) taking notes of the answers, take note of the questions, and try answering them yourself.
  • Next time you make a list of ideas (new or existing), take time to go through and work out which ones do (and don’t) feel like something worth pursuing. Then make a few notes on why that is (in both directions. See if there are any patterns. Can you draw some lessons from that for ways to strengthen future ideas?
Tiny pen sketch of people with wine watching Miss Fisher in a cinema
Watching Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears — the last visit to the cinema Before Everything. No regrets.

Observation journal: flirting with contagion, and soothing with reflection

I mentioned previously, regarding the observation journal, that I prefer to avoid introspection (see Observation Journal: Sharks Eating Stormtroopers, myths and the difficulties of artistic ritual). But the observation journal itself (as opposed to other journal techniques) has helped me when a little reflection on my thought processes is needed, so I wanted to include this page before getting back to the more obviously creative exercises.

First, though: on the left-hand page, canned goods and toilet paper were being purchased and a boy on campus was using an explanation of the mechanics of virus transmission as an excuse to touch the bare arm of the girl with whom he was having coffee.

Double page of observation journal, densely handwritten. On the left, 5 things seen, heard, and done that day. On the right, a mindmap of lessons learned.

But on to the right-hand page. Part of what happened in this week of the observation journal, as well as classes (briefly) starting on campus, was that a very last-minute opportunity to arose to take part in an arts residency on a boat. It would have been amazing, but also I was still recovering from hurting my back, and was behind on everything (including class preparation) as a result, and the year was in the process of falling apart.

It was exciting and gratifying and wildly stressful, and in the end it was far too short notice and everyone was in transit (and within a week it would have been overtaken by current events). But I wanted to record what the points of the worst stresses were, and what my personality was doing to make things better (or worse) in a situation like this.

A mind-map (in very tiny writing) of lessons learned

The notes came together fairly naturally around several key points (specific to me and this situation):

  • The occasion of getting the offer, and the attendant circumstances and reactions.
  • The responses I gave, and which responses were effective, given the limitations of my personality.
  • The various feelings I put myself through (I need to put this into my list of project post-mortem questions, too)
  • What would make it different.

For the notes on these, I tried to push through a few levels of thought: why I said/did that, and why that was, and why that was. Pushing questions a bit further is usually illuminating, and in my case the approach is loosely based on a combination of the “five whys” and Tiffany Aching).

On a personal level, the main things to come out of it were:

  • My extreme difficulty with saying no to anything that fascinates me, compounded by the facts that (a) so many things do fascinate me, and (b) I want to be the sort of person who rushes off at the drop of a hat to do interesting things.
  • The desire for some sort of version of a financial “opportunity fund”, but for time. I keep running up against this, because of the way work (and interests, and distractions) expands.
  • The known and increasingly undeniable principle that a modicum of organisation now will allow for a great deal of spontaneity later — or, as it says rather grandiosely here — discipline in service of opportunity and spontaneity.

But I’m including this page less as an exposé of my various angsts and anguishes, and more because — again — if I’m forced to be introspective, I find this one-page approach to considering a problem more useful than a wall of text, for several reasons:

  • It’s an adaptation of the “lessons learned” notes I usually make after big events (travel and conventions, usually), so the focus is more on recording things in order to learn from them — or at least to have the possibility of learning from them.
  • The map approach means I can pursue interesting points without losing the thread of my thoughts or getting mesmerised by my own prose.
  • I can glance back at it and find different useful (if unflattering) bits easily each time.
  • Importantly, it inclines me to summarise the main things I learned (or want to do).
    • This can appear as a topic on the page (in this case, under “what would make it different?”).
    • But also the principle of reflecting-on-the-observations, which I was building in for my students, helps me to remember to summarise conclusions and extract points to pursue or act on. Having a separate area for reflections already ruled out on the page very much encourages this.
  • And finally, even if I don’t actually work out how to resolve an issue, just knowing it’s there, and how I’ll likely react in similar circumstances, at least means I’m prepared and can plan around my habits.

I also, around this time, wished loudly and frequently that someone else would just give a blanket NO to everything on my behalf, which in retrospect is something one shouldn’t have said at the beginning of March 2020.

A pen drawing of a man sitting on the grass, talking into a phone, while from a branch above him an ibis looks down.
Ibis surveilling student on phone.

Note: I’ve put together a draft introduction to the observation journal here: Observation Journal. Comments and further questions are welcome.

Second note: I’ve mentioned Flyaway (which you can buy now), but my next book Travelogues is now available for pre-order! It’s essentially an observation journal, recording a sequence of train journeys, and is out in October.

Observation Journal: Sharks Eating Stormtroopers, myths and the difficulties of artistic ritual

Note: I’ve put together a draft introduction to the observation journal here: Observation Journal. Comments and further questions are welcome.

Second note: I’ve mentioned Flyaway (which you can buy now), but my next book Travelogues is now available for pre-order! It’s essentially an observation journal, recording a sequence of train journeys, and is out in October.

This page (and the next) of the observation journal are a little introspective, which I’ve said before I prefer to avoid, but the process and stage of the year are interesting.

So, early March was a tense time. I was coming off various painkillers, teaching had started, the PhD was something I was meant to be doing, The Whole 2020 Situation was really kicking off locally, and this incredible last-minute art residency opportunity had come along and people who should have told me “No” were enabling me (spoiler: I monkeys-pawed my way out of that one).

However, as recorded on the left-hand page, there were earrings of sharks eating stormtroopers, and there were apprentices to listen to — I really enjoy this, as quite apart from how nice it is to listen to other people working, it’s fascinating watching people be taught both a trade and the corresponding professionalism. It’s good as a novel.

Double page of observation journal, densely handwritten. On the left, 5 things seen, heard, and done that day. On the right, handwritten answers to questions about creativity.

On the right-hand page, I was trying out one of the optional journal activities I was giving my students — lifting questions from the interviews with various creative-industries people they’d been set to watch and answering those for themselves. (A useful way to get questions for a journal.)

The questions (set by Associate Professor Kim Wilkins for HUMN3700 — Creativity: Myths, Methods & Impact at UQ) were various, but the ones I used here were as follows. (I’ve included my answers, but they are very particular to me!)

  • How do you define creativity?
    • “A Sudden Wild Magic” [both literally and as a reference to Diana Wynne Jones]
    • Unexpected manifestations
    • Causing things to exist in the world [see also Making Things Manifest]
  • What creative myths are part of your process? (I made a list and then worked out which helped and which hindered)
    • That shouldn’t have any [unsure whether help or hindrance]
    • Bang any two things together & sparks will fly [helps with ideas, less with follow-through]
    • I need uninterrupted swathes of time [mostly a hindrance, except as a reminder to preserve them when they exist]
    • Vague beliefs re When I Work Best [hindrance, although it’s useful to know when there are waves that can be caught]
    • Pavlovian responses [helpful if I remember to implement them]
    • Deadlines are vital [not healthy but also, well, vital]
  • Have you ever had to be fiercely individualistic in your creativity?
    • I tend to go more for plausible deniability or obstructive vagueness. [NB: useful to remember to edit out at the end, but very useful in the early stages, and frankly quite useful in fixing tricky structural problems in creative projects that don’t need to bear literal weight — there’s more leeway to just make things up in a short story than when building bridges]
    • Bit I do like the challenge of pleasing everyone — including myself. In editing Flyaway, for example I was steering between editorial comments to use more emotion, to keep the emotionlessness, and my own preference for buttoned-down characters who feel a lot. It made what could have been sweeping editorial decisions a very pleasing word game.
  • What myths (about creativity) have you come across?
    • Some that appeal, but I don’t really use — ritual, floating-ideas-seeking-manifestation mnemonic [that’s from Big Magic which I initially resisted and then found had some awfully charming methods for tricking oneself — it’s a divisive book among my pragmatic friends but I find it can be read very practically ]
    • Some that aggravate me: “talent” vs hard work especially re draughtsmanship, some aspects of vocation/calling, probably because I can also see the appeal, at least, in some regards. [I can’t quite parse that sentence, in retrospect. Something about thoroughly enjoying the idea of wild romantic creativity as a fantasy while being very prosaic about it in practice. Here’s a great book about vocation that reads like four modern novellas: Ann-Marie Priest’s A Free Flame: Australian Women Writers and Vocation in the Twentieth Century.
    • But correspondingly, “apply-seat-to-chair” omits some steps.
    • And, importantly: Most myths don’t consider admin.

Structurally, the main lesson of this page was:

  • Introspection is (marginally) more palatable to me in dot-points.

Personally, for all my resistance, there were a few good points to come out of this that I’ve continued to pursue in the observation journal:

  • My continuing interest in how to get from idea to thing.
  • The fun of making a game of pleasing/misdirecting everybody.
  • That myths can be very useful, but when I try to use them I get irritatingly pragmatic and evasive.
  • That I really like the idea of High Artistic Ritual but honestly can only manage plausible bohemianism on structured days off.
Makeshift filming set-up involving a reading lamp, a GorillaPod, a drafting chair, a phone and a laptop.

Observation Journal: Manifestos (ugh)

Pen drawing of a person carrying a banner over their shoulder.
Terrible as an army with banners (O-week picture, Slatter reference)

At this stage in the observation journal, I decided to try an exercise everyone else seems to love doing and I don’t. And it wasn’t even collage.

(I also got a procrastinatory haircut, which was good timing, because it was a while before that could happen again).

Double page of observation journal, densely handwritten. On the left, 5 things seen, heard, and done that day. On the right, a handwritten manifesto.

So: this exercise was simply to do a very fast creative manifesto, which always sounds like a good idea, except I don’t like introspection-without-action and many manifestos make me sigh: nothing ideological, they just weary me. Probably the effect of too many corporate mission statement workshops.

  • Make things.
    Bet you didn’t see that one coming. But it’s also a reminder not just to think about making things, or plan to make things, or start and not finish making things.
  • Make people homesick for places they’ve never been.
    Oh, this is a teenage hangover one, and sounds like it, but it’s still true — both as a reminder of what I personally love in stories and a checkpoint to make sure I actually put the descriptions in.
  • Beauty and terror.
    Both is good.
  • Be wary of poetry.
    Like fire, it’s a good servant but a bad master. Like glitter, you’ll never be entirely rid of it. It also makes editing a lot like negotiating a laser grid in a 1990s heist movie.
  • Forward motion.
    This is tied to “make things”, but also to one of my favourite creative metaphors: the joust between Sir Grummore and King Pellinore in The Sword in the Stone. Specifically the bit where they are on foot in heavy armour at opposite ends of the clearing, rock until they get their weight over their toes, and have to either run at each other or fall flat on their faces. I like narratives (visual or written) that feel like that.
  • Narrative before decorative.
    This is related to “forward motion”. I like illustrations that have a sense of movement and draw the story forward, and a few well-placed lines can do that just as thoroughly as a highly-rendered picture. It’s a personal preference, not “better” — and in Flyaway I quite deliberately did the opposite (see the article on Tor.com: Illustrating Flyaway).
  • But find the line that pleases.
    Eternally misquoting Peter de Sève.
  • Abundance — seek, evoke, create.
    Previously discussed here — Observation Journal: Plenty and time.
  • Make a pleasant place to be.
    I tend to live very much in my thoughts. This is just a reminder to at least straighten my desk up occasionally.
  • Don’t run too fast, because you can’t stop running.
    A parallel to Grummore & Pelinore above. It’s never stopped me doing it, but if I remember that I do it I can at least try and run into softer surfaces occasionally.

If you must try something similar, just sit down and quickly (or set a timer for 5 minutes, or race a friend) try to jot down ten guiding principles you tend to consciously or subconsciously use (or wish you did). This is more about what currently is than what you plan to do in future.

At the end, see if there are any patterns. Do some embarrass you, and do you mind? Do you remember where you picked up that approach, and does it still work for you? Are there directions you’d like to pursue further? Mottos you’d like to pinch from someone else? Do you actually do these things, or just wish you did, and is that gap stimulating or demoralising?

Or, if too much introspection enervates you, don’t.