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⬇️ ⬆️ Input versus output & a review of Will by Will Smith & Mark Manson
For the last couple of months of last year I could not squeeze another little drop out of my brain. Not one bit.
Like most people, I float between input and output modes. Sometimes (like the end of last year / early this year) I could not get my brain to produce anything remotely interesting, and it felt like any attempt to do so was setting my brain on fire. But putting things into my brain felt soothing and comforting, like I was incubating it under a blanket of words.
At the moment I’m feeling the opposite. Ideas are flowing, I’m making things, writing things, and spending an unnecessarily long time creating iPhone mock ups for LinkedIn posts. I can tell when I’m in this mode because I actually use the little notebooks I keep in my bags, and the notes app on my phone has a selection of undecipherable snippets in it.
When I’m in output mode, the first thing that goes are podcasts. Which feels a little sad because I love them. I’ll still listen to my current favourites when they release new episodes (currently Maintenance Phase, 60 Songs that Explain the 90s, and Chat 10 Looks 3), but I won’t tend to chain-podcast.
Even reading feels like a trade off at the moment, opting for content in rather than putting something out.
During both of these times, I often end up with a pang of guilt that I’m not doing the other 🤦🏻♀️. Feeling unproductive when I’m just taking things in, and getting FOMO when I’m just putting stuff out. But recently I’ve been reminding myself that both phases feed each other. The times where I’m happily taking in lots of information is what feeds the creative spark later on, so I might as well enjoy it. And when my brain runs out of steam, the books and podcasts and music documentaries will still be there to catch it and recharge it.
Something I did ‘input’ this month was the audiobook Will by Will Smith & Mark Manson. Yes, I am fully converted to memoirs/autobiographies as audiobooks. Keep scrolling for a review of that book.
As usual, you can hit the little heart button or comment to let me know what you liked in this bookmark. And let me know what you’ve been reading. I’d love to know.
In balancing the in and the out,
PS. To borrow from Austin Kleon (and everyone else who borrows this from Austin Kleon), this newsletter and the podcast are 'free but not cheap'. You can support their ongoing creation by becoming a member on Patreon, buying me a coffee as a one off 'thank you', purchasing a card from the Good Press card store, or leaving giving the podcast a (five 😉) star rating on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Thanks!
*This month’s bonus member content*
To help keep the podcast advert free, I’ve started a Patreon so you can support the podcast, AND enjoy some bonus content. There’s options from $5 per month, and the good thing about Patreon is you can drop in and out at any time.
This month, I’ve been chatting to Adam Ashton from the What You Will Learn podcast (who reads even more books than I do) on how he reads, how that’s changed over time, how he organises his bookshelves, and what he wants to read more/less of in 2022.
If these bonus episodes sounds good, and/or you want to say thanks and support the podcast, this is the best way to do it.
You’ll also find previous bonus content, including the three big ideas from the mammoth Beatles Get Back documentary, a selection of the top five books on leadership, and an interview with the wonderful author Madeleine Dore about how she curates and collates quotes and ideas from the extensive reading she does.
A very big special thank you to the earliest bookmark sponsors; Samantha, Julia, Gaye, and David, for their support. You’re awesome x
Review: Will by Will Smith & Mark Manson
One sentence blurb
Will Smith shares his life story from growing up in Philly (yes, he actually did) through to taking a bungee jump on his 50th birthday in 2018.
What I loved
You cannot fault Will’s way with words and storytelling ability. It makes sense that actors naturally have an advantage in this, but apparently this is something that Will was doing from a young age. At various points throughout the book you can sense Mark Manson’s influence in pulling out the life lessons / truism and weaving them into the narrative. It’s done very effectively, and I felt it was both subtler and more impactful than in Matthew McConaughey’s Greenlights.
I always love hearing the decision making process that people go through, the incredible group of core people around him, and the lessons they live by, and this book has heaps of those. From Will’s decision to keep swearing out of his raps (from when his Grandma found teenage Will’s very sweary rap lyric book), and the way he sets out to become the most successful, recognisable Hollywood actor by taking Tom Cruise’s promo schedule and adding two extra hours a day to it. This was until he realised that Tom Cruise was clearly a machine, and so Will decided to do what other actors couldn’t, and put on free concerts as part of his movie promos.
It’s a hugely uplifting, inspiring, and funny book, and it goes pretty deep. Some of the stories are hard to listen to, especially the impact of his Dad’s violent behaviour on Will, his siblings, and their Mum, and later the way Will speaks to his girlfriends / wives. This is all shared with the self-awareness of showing the error of his ways, but it doesn’t make for a comfortable listen in places.
What I didn’t
There really wasn’t much I didn’t like about the book itself. Given I read it with my ears as an audiobook, I think a nice addition to the audio version would have been some interludes of interviews with Jada (Will’s wife) or his Mum on their side / perspective of stories. Especially some of the more challenging periods of their lives.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 - and particularly recommend the audiobook
Note; as part of the launch of the book last year, Penguin Press and Will Smith commissioned window displays from Black artists, based on chapters from Will, to be displayed at Black-owned bookstores in the US and the UK. Check out the stunning work here.