The fox.

Miscellany. Subject to change or ammendment.

Tending, not trending.

May 1, 2024

I've discovered something quite remarkable. Incremental progress is progress. Starting over from scratch is not. The work is figuring out what works and what doesn't, then figuring out how to fix the parts that don't work without undoing the things that do.

When I was a kid, I built model airplanes. Or, more accurately, I started building model airplane kits, rarely getting beyond assembling and painting the cockpit and putting the fuselage together. I was always more excited about starting a new kit than finishing the one I was working on. (It's worth noting that I'm pretty sure the only competition I've ever won was for 'Worst in Show' at the annual convention of the International Plastic Modelers Society.)

When I write, if I get to a point where things get unsatisfying, I usually abandon everything and start over. I love notebooks, and I have way more empty or mostly empty notebooks than filled ones. Coding projects are much the same, after a certain point starting over seems easier than fixing or improving what I've done so far.

Observing myself, I've realized that I operate with a mental model that looks something like this: getting to where one wants be can only accomplished if one starts from the ideal point. This is impossible—a house should definitely start with a good foundation, but most everything else can start with something and then be improved over time.

Three things have helped me unlearn this habit (a work in progress). First is self-awareness. It's easier to work around the habit of starting over when the desire to do it is still vague. Second is stopping. It's better to stop working on something, leaving it undone until you can return to it with fresh eyes, than to try do it all in one go. Finally, and most importantly, is taking notes. There's a lot to say about note-taking, but the train is pulling into the station, so that will have to wait. The gist though is that note-taking externalizes the thought process so that it's easier to see where you've been, and then figure out where to go.

The hedgehog.

Essays on focused topics, usually finished.