Book Reviews

Creating Content That Matters

Great writers write everyday, great coders code everyday, great musicians compose every day, great artists paint everyday. It’s no surprise that all this greatness comes with a cost – the willingness to sacrifice the trivial matters in life. Even if we have got the willpower to do it we find ourselves falling back into the vicious loop of mediocrity. From high school physics we all have studied that all objects tend to remain in its state of stable equilibrium, the state which requires the minimum amount of energy, and for us humans this state of stable equilibrium is being mediocre, to follow the crowd.

But the ambitious ones aim for the nonconformity and search for the tools to get there. We live in an internet age where everyone from a 5 year old kid to the retired scientist seek the help from Google for each and every question that pops in their head. And Google gets us a ranked list of websites it believes is great in content, but the truth in most cases are, at least for these ambitious people, these are nothing other than some naive advices from a higher level mediocrity group who are devious bloggers/content creators who trick the search engine algorithms. These advices might work for someone who is only trying to reach this higher level of mediocrity but not the ones who are looking for a intense quality works on which they can reflect upon.

I have become a fanatic of this deep work since I have started my graduate studies and I always ask to the people who create deep works, ‘How do you create such deep literatures?’. Most of their replies are, ‘We too started first as admirers of deep works and by seeking more deep works and enjoying such literature we have learned to create works of such magnitude, the hard way, somehow halfway through the journey’ . We can’t blame them for giving us such a half-baked response. This happens to us as well: We might acquire a skill through various means but once we master it, it becomes so straightforward that we too might have a hard time telling other the exact set of steps through which we acquired it.

Finding these superheros, who create such deep literatures, is hard. Because these are not the ones who try to use search engine optimization tactics to gain huge audience through click baits and plan to exploit them but rather the ones who are interested in delivering intense quality literatures. The literatures of these authors find their audiences eventually, but not as easily as the mediocre ones. It requires effort to scout such literatures because in my opinion almost 95% of the information we receive from the internet is rubbish and only 5% accounts for the quality work that we could gain insights from and recommend to others with full confidence. Some of such personalities in the limelight, whose books I have enjoyed the most, are authors like Malcolm Gladwell, Yuval Noah Harari and Daniel H Pink. There exist a thousand more, in the ocean of internet, whom are yet to be discovered.

While reading some literatures of such a personality, the author mentioned about Cal Newport’s articles in his references as a resource of motivation for the author’s own creation. The name stuck.

I happened to see Cal Newport’s recent book ‘Deep Work: Rules for focused success in a distracted world’ in my goodreads feed yesterday and I decided to give it a try. [ Cal Newport is a professor at Georgetown University and he writes books and blog posts on productivity.] Deep Work was one of those few books that I have read in one sitting. Most of the advices he give are simple and may seem as common sense. In the chaos of information that is seeking our constant attention, where we are losing sight of even such simple rituals or common sense and thus making our lives miserable, these simple advices in an organised format looks as if they are words of pure wisdom.

The book is divided into two half. The first half, which accounts to the one third of the book content, explains why deep work is important in the new economy and workplace and the second half gives advices and tips on how to create deep work routines.

The author emphasis the importance of scheduling each day of your work and making them a ritual. He also asks the readers to reconsider the use of social media and observe if it is having a negative or positive impact on their work and personal life.

In short “Deep Work” is a great book for the ambitious who had been looking for the ways in which they can create deep lasting quality work.

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