The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy In the Everyday offers exercises, prompts, provocations, games and things you can actually do to build attention muscles, stave off distraction, pick up on what everybody else overlooked, and experience the joy of noticing. Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Knopf | All purpose link for readers in UK/Europe or US
This newsletter offers related news and ideas and noteworthy projects that have come along since I finished the book. Subscribe or unsubscribe at: robwalker.substack.com.
Texas Book Festival: With Austin Kleon! + “Story Bar” event
In an amazing stroke of good fortune for me, I’m sharing an event at the Texas Book Festival with the mighty Austin Kleon, talking about his book Keep Going, and about The Art of Noticing, with moderator Danielle McGhee. I’m so psyched for this!
Also, I’ll be participating in a “Story Mixer” event organized by Story Bar, in connection with the festival’s Lit Crawl. Basically, a mix of Texas Book Festival authors and Austin Film Festival screenwriters will be presenting material that’s totally distinct from whatever they are known for. In my case that means I’ll be reading some selections from my “a-life-in-death” Where Were You? personal project. More here.
These events are free. You should come! Say hello!
More about the rather astonishing Texas Book Festival 2019 lineup here.
Please spread the word! Thank you…
Look. Wait. Draw.
Several exercises in The Art of Noticing involve drawing. Even if you think you’re not “good at” drawing, it’s a great way to hone your observational skills. Keep your drawings private if you want! But it really does make a difference.
I bring this up because I got a note the other day from my friend John Lowe, one of my favorite people to hang out with in the years I lived in Savannah. John teaches at SCAD, and he’s so good at it (we taught a class together once, so I can say that); he’s also a really talented artist. And here’s his note:
I have my students do an exercise you may be interested in (it's similar to your sketchbook idea):
I take them out to the square by our building. They aren't allowed to take anything with them, and they have to spend 30 minutes looking at objects, trying to memorize any essential information.
I then bring them back to the classroom and have them draw at least three objects from memory.
I love this! If you try it and you do want to share results, post on Instagram, #theartofnoticing.
Thanks John — I miss you!
Icebreaker Of The Week
This week’s icebreaker is adapted from the latest episode of a podcast called Scene By Scene with Josh & Dean. Basically this is comix artists Josh Neufeld and Dean Haspiel discussing the movie American Splendor. It’s extremely fun.
Toward the end of every episode, Dean always has a question for Josh (and their guest, in some cases), inspired, however loosely, by something from the movie scenes they’ve just talked about. The questions are always provocative. I’ve modified the most recent one to this:
Have you ever quit doing something that you used to be really passionate about? Do you regret it? Or are you happy you quit? Either way: Do you think you’ll ever take it up again?
Send your favorite icebreaker (whether you made it up or got it elsewhere) to firstname.lastname@example.org
In Other News:
Hey hey, it looks like the Italian translation exists!
Very excited to read the great Steven Heller call The Art of Noticing “a treat,” in a nice essay addressing his feelings about “motivational” books, for Design Observer. Regarding TAoN, Heller writes: “The motivational part of this book is activity not passivity. No sitting around waiting to be inspired. The onus is on you and me.”
New ‘Off Brand’ column for Marker: “Why Smart Companies Are Taking Stands.”
When It’s Okay To Be Unambitious. This is my last Human Resource column for Lifehacker. Sorry to see that go; I enjoyed it.
Okay, that's it! As always, I value your feedback (suggestions, critiques, positive reinforcement, constructive insults, etc.), as well as your tips or stories or personal noticing rituals, and your icebreakers: email@example.com.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. If you enjoyed this, share it and/or sign up here: robwalker.substack.com.