Discover more from Steady Beats | Matt Tillotson
[MT.166] A failed exercise and a reboot
Even a Mix Tape has to mix things up. And following a writing realization this week, it’s time to tinker again.
It’s Charlie Bleecker’s fault.
The Write of Passage Mentor Extraordinaire challenged us to look at a recent essay we wrote and find the two or three most interesting lines.
I reviewed my last newsletter. Couldn’t find three lines I liked. I haven’t given the newsletter as much attention as I’d like in recent weeks, and the results showed.
But also, I’m grateful for the realization. I want to get better.
Try out Charlie’s useful writing exercise:
Edit an old essay you wrote. Find the most surprising and interesting sentences.
Rebuild the essay around those lines.
If you don’t have any good lines, well, message me. We’ll commiserate.
It’s also Simone Silverstein’s fault.
Simone, Creative Director at Write of Passage, has elevated the takeaway emails we send after Live Sessions to an art form. Conversational, insightful, and fun—just like her own newsletter.
I do minimal editing and formatting on the takeaway emails which got me thinking: “Why can’t my newsletter be more like this? A summary of things learned and observed during the week, delivered like an interesting conversation to one person?”
Maybe it can. Kinda.
I’ll never write like Simone—she’s better than me. That’s fine. I’m not terrible, and l’ll forever show up and try to get better.
The lesson: No matter how consistently you write, it’s easy to slip into cruise control. Writers have to push for growth. Surrounding yourself with talented writers is a great way to see the flaws in your own work—and to model ways to improve.
Now, on to other items this week.
I was warned.
“The Counting Crows are awful live,” the concert-faring expert told me. The setlists: self-indulgent and boring. Lead singer Adam Duritz: interested in nothing but his check.
Did I heed the advice? No. Was it true? All of it.
A few summers ago, we watched the Tampa heat wilt Duritz. He could not sing the few hits played at the end of the band’s dull set. On his knees, head down, gasping for breath, Duritz pointed his mic at the crowd gesturing for us to take over lead vocals for him. He surrendered both scepter and dignity in a pool of sweat and haze of exhaustion.
Having gone to college in the 90s. I’ve endured many karaoke renditions of “Mrs. Jones and Me.” I didn’t need another one that night, with Duritz serving as a microphone stand.
All that aside, Duritz still has something to offer from the comfort of an air-conditioned studio. I like this single from 2021 called “Elevator Boots,” an ambling, almost-country tune driven by piano and guitar.
I just don’t want to hear it live.
Writers hit the right Note.
There’s been a shift in Write of Passage students.
“Info capture” (the Write of Passage fancy term for “taking notes”) divides students. Camps form as advocates support their note-taking platform of choice. Notion. Roam. Evernote. And on and on.
But one camp, Cohort after Cohort, kept a low profile.
The group always seemed sheepish about it’s note-taking flavor of choice, having selected vanilla from a sea of rich startup flavors. This group uses Apple Notes, the app riding along for free on every Mac, iPhone, and iPad on earth.
Suddenly, Apple Notes seems an obvious choice for many writers. And why not? It’s been my go-to (proudly!) for years.
Apple Notes is increasingly:
Customizable in look and feel
Flexible with input options (voice—vastly improved!, typing, and Apple Pencil)
Searchable with hashtag recognition
Powerful if you learn a bit about Apple Shortcuts
And it’s always there, lurking on some device within arm’s reach. Now, writers using Apple Notes are out of the shadows. As we should be.
Same, Monica. Same.
It’s hard to be a protein pro.
The problem with dining out:
It’s harder to synthesize protein as we age. So my philosophy is simple: shove more down the top of the funnel (a.k.a. my gullet).
Restaurants want you to leave full—full of cheap carbs. Carbs are fine, but should ride shotgun to protein.
Lift. Then order extra-extra protein.
Thank you for reading!
Whatever you’re working on or working through: keep showing up.
If you liked this edition, would you mind giving the heart a click? Thank you.