Bad Advice

Seeking advice is addicting and can become a proxy for action. Giving it can also be addicting in a potentially pretentious, soul-rotting sort of way, and can replace experimenting because you think you know how things work. Be suspicious of lists, advice, and lists of advice.

Frank Chimero, "What Advice Would You Have For a Graphic Design Student"

There’s lots of advice floating around on the internet. Most of it is bad, and unaware of it’s own failings. This list, however, is the set of things that I’ve done that you should definitely not do. Sasha Chapin has a similar post.


Do a humanities or business degree that leaves you with obscene amounts of free time. Then start a band or something.

Learn to perform. Swap clothes, mannerisms, and personalities, whatever feels fun. If you’re even somewhat extroverted, there are like, half a dozen different groups you’ll be part of; use them all to try out these masks.

Say no to enough parties that you stop getting invited. Then go home and read in peace.


Spend incredible amounts of time and effort pursuing one person. Put all your eggs in one basket. If they take half your money, just double it again.

“The online male science of talking to women, of the recent decade, is an attempt to reduce or remove, uncertainty. Just as all science, they attempt to resolve the induction problem with statistics: approach 100 girls and one will give you her number. And just like all scientists, the practitioners all eventually go mad…” Egg Report, “Beyond Certainty”

You can just, like, tell people you plan to marry them as soon as you know you want to. Even right after you meet them. Really. Nobody’s stopping you. (Girls would enjoy higher success rates if they tried this, maybe.)

If you must, use negative rizz, or Adonis Rogers’ amazing dating tips.


Never do bicep curls, shrugs or forearm-specific training. If you’re lifting with enough intensity and volume, those muscles get trained anyway.

Occasionally, train after 24 hours of no sleep. It’s pretty fun.

Don’t pull out the ice pack unless it’s for much-needed pain relief; slowing down blood flow doesn’t seem like something that would help with recovery. Go the other way, use a hot water bottle instead.

Avoid all kinds of static stretching too, except for microStretching.


If you’re young, spend your paychecks immediately. Save like, 10% if you want to. The present value of money is higher than you think, and there’s too many useful things to buy for thrift to be worth it. You’ll make more money in the future anyway.


Start a newsletter, intending to publish weekly posts. Instead, only send out writing that you’re proud of, and end up publishing once per month (if at all).

“I write very seldom. I don’t write every day. I’m not someone who just sits down and figures it out…That doesn’t mean I don’t fail, but I do a lot of failing in here. [Points to head.] There’s already a lot of drafting in here. I’m just very selective when I actually commit to composition. Once I sit down to write, chances are it’s gonna be something I’m gonna publish.” Ocean Vuong, Interview by Hua Hsu

Have a fairly unfiltered anonymous blog, and upload stuff as often as you can. Use something like or Bear Blog.

Tell nobody about it, but link to it in conversations that are about a topic you’ve written about. You will receive none of the positive externalities that writing online usually brings but at least you’ll have stopped pretending that you intend to start publishing someday.


Buy an instrument, and leave it lying around. Never put it in its case or have a special stand that’s in the corner of a room. Noodle around often.

Learn only what you want to. Your favourite song is easier to play than you think, even if it takes a long time to get there.

Steal lyrics by listening to songs where messy vocals make it hard to hear exactly what’s being sung, and then write down what you think you heard.


Never vote. It’s not worth it.

Renounce moderation until it drives people nuts.

Make a list of movies people have told you to watch, tell people who give you new recommendations that you’ll “add it to the list” and then never use the list.

You can afford to be more confrontational than you think, as long as you’re smooth with it. There is confrontation for the sake of confrontation, and then there’s a genuine concern/curiosity that is often not acted upon. The tricky bit is making sure the latter doesn’t feel like the former.

Never get 8 hours of sleep, you don’t need it if most of your day is just spent sitting around.


Don’t do katas. Here

You Aren't Getting Any Better

You can’t just show up and expect to get better. You can’t even just show up, work hard and expect to get better. You have to show up, work hard and deliberately focus on the specific things that will make you get better. Sometimes they will be the same as the cool things that you instinctively want to work on, but there’s no guarantee of this. Working through problems you’ve already solved won’t help much.

Working on easy problems won’t help much. Working without feedback won’t help much. Working with only a superficial understanding of the technologies and frameworks you are using won’t help much. You’ll be OK for a while, but before long you might just be spinning your wheels in the mud, and if you’re unlucky you might not even notice.

Robert Heaton

Don’t do things you hate doing. Learn to enjoy them, or stop.

“Willpower is a stopgap measure; any plan that requires continuous application of willpower is doomed.” Nate Soares, “Enjoying the Feeling of Agency”

Get a phone that’s 6 years old, with a screen smaller than credit card. Then turn on system-wide grayscale.

Sometimes when you don’t think you know much about a subject, you really just don’t know the right language to talk about that subject with others. Find the language first and see how much your understanding grows. James Little, “25 at 25”

If you must, try structured procrastination.