The Mix Tape, Vol. 39
Welcome! We’ve had amazing weather in Florida lately, and everyone’s a little stir crazy.
So you see some interesting parades roll by. These young guys—cranes, I think—were hanging out in the front yard recently.
Mom and Dad weren’t far behind.
Let’s hunt and peck our way through Volume 39.
Shaken, Not Stirred
One of my greatest quarantine achievements: watching every single James Bond film.
(Please note: I have not had a lot of quarantine achievements.)
The Bond-a-thon left me wondering. All those crazy ideas for villains, gadgets, and world-threatening situations. Where did they come from, anyway?
Turns out Bond creator Ian Fleming took a bunch of ideas from his own (wild) life experiences.
It’s detailed in the book, “For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond,” by Ben Macintyre:
The exploits of 007 grew directly out of Fleming’s knowledge of wartime intelligence and espionage; they shared similar tastes and attitudes towards women; they even looked similar.
Like every good journalist, Fleming was a magpie, collecting material avidly and continuously: names, places, plots, gadgets, faces, restaurant menus and phrases; details from reality that would then be translated into fiction.
Drawing on his work in British intelligence during World War II, Fleming wrote 13 books and a number of short stories. His work fueled the Bond film franchise, still going strong after more than 50 years and 24 movies.
The best writing is born from living an interesting life—whether you write fiction, non-fiction, or just work emails. Our own experiences inform and enliven what we write.
P.S.: Who plays the best Bond? Three-way tie. Connery, Craig, and Moore.
Building a Story Brand, by Donald Miller
There are mountains of bad marketing books.
Many are thinly-veiled collateral pieces, created only to promote the writer’s consulting or speaking business.
I feared “Building a Story Brand” would belong to that group.
It’s actually great, and loaded with strategic and tactical value.
Donald Miller lays out a timeless storytelling strategy, one any business can use to build a compelling message strategy:
The big idea: The customer is the hero.
Your business is the guide with the plan to help the customer conquer a problem. To create a transformation.
The customer is Luke; you are Obi-Wan.
Most marketing falls flat because businesses cast themselves as the hero.
Miller walks through the strategy in-depth, with tons of examples, and then follows up with tactical suggestions for execution.
I highly recommend it for marketers and business owners.
Writing without a plan
I like to think of writing as similar to a workout. Show up, put in the time, and you’ll get better.
While that’s true, there is one huge difference: writing often has no roadmap.
In the gym, I know what lifts I’m doing, the weights to use and the number of reps.
But on the page? Many times there’s no plan. It’s like walking into a gym that has different equipment every time you go.
Evidently Ava Huang feels similarly:
But what do I write about, if not the things I’ve always written about? One answer is to shrug and say, I don’t feel like writing today, I will when I feel the urge. But that often results in not writing very much at all. How do you get better if you don’t put in the practice? How do you mature aesthetically, and produce output that’s closer and closer to what you want to make?
It’s not fun, especially at the end of the day when I'd personally prefer watching a TV show or vegetating in bed—anything else. It feels like I’m trying to sketch a picture with my eyes closed or rolling a wheelchair uphill, which is to say it's hard work with shaky results. But when I think about a life that feels meaningful, what leaps to mind is always a life in which I am making things that are expressive manifestations of my ideas and beliefs. Which doesn’t mean that they necessarily have to be public, but they have to exist.
If you want to get better at writing, write. Blog, journal, write out prayers. Whatever. Let the roadmap be different each day. But make the effort.
This week’s video for the musically deprived
One of the biggest bummers of the concertless summer: The Doobie Brothers were going to reunite with Michael McDonald for a big tour.
Maybe we’ll still get to see them all back together. In the meantime, The Doobies (minus Michael-Mac) got together to livestream a rendition of Black Water:
Thanks for reading!
Do you know someone who might enjoy The Mix Tape?
If so, please send them to the signup page.
See you next week!