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Level Up Human is going to Blue dot festival to celebrate the anniversary of the moon landing 🌕

Dflb4T_W4AEY9lXExcited to be heading to Jodrell Bank for Blue Dot Festival tomorrow to celebrate the anniversary of the moon landing. We’ll be recording Level Up Human on the Notes stage with Simon Watt, geomicrobiologist and comedian Sarah Jones and Dr. Holly Shiel.

How would you redesign the human body?

If you’ve not heard the podcast before, get involved here!

http://leveluphuman.com

The Unfortunate Bisexual is going to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe!

TheUnfortunateBisexual

The Unfortunate Bisexual show, which I have been building all year with Cerys Bradley, is going to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe!

Edinburgh Festival is the world’s biggest arts festival, and we’re absolutely delighted to be taking our show up there.

If you’re in Edinburgh during the month of August do come along and see it! We will be at The Street, 2b Picardy Place from 9pm until 10pm from the 4th to the 24th (not Mondays or the 17th.)

See you there!

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/cerys-bradley-and-rachel-wheeley-the-unfortunate-bisexual

Do creative projects have a life of their own?

“There are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up.

The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows. And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.” – George RR Martin

This gave me great hope when I read it a few weeks ago.

“Maybe I’m a gardener!” I thought to myself, watering some tomato plants. Maybe that’s why I’m rubbish at writing long stuff. I get scared by the bigness of a project and dive into a completely alien way of working.

Maybe, I think, if I work out what all the sections of this are, and plan it to the nth degree, then eventually I’ll just fill in the detail in all the little compartments I’ve created and the thing will be finished and beautifully structured.

But I just don’t work like that. Neil Gaiman explains his writing method:

“Your first draft can go way off the rails, your first draft can absolutely go up in flames, it can — you can change the age, gender, number of a character, you can bring somebody dead back to life. Nobody ever needs to know anything that happens in your first draft. It is you telling the story to yourself.

Then, I’ll sit down and type. I’ll put it onto a computer, and as far as I’m concerned, the second draft is where I try and make it look like I knew what I was doing all along.” – Neil Gaiman (The Tim Ferriss Show”)

Another gardener! Write it, allow anything at all to happen, and then pick out the bits that make up an elegant plot in draft 2. He even goes on to say he prefers hand-writing his first drafts because then he can pick out the bits he wants when typing up, rather than having to delete whole pages of work on the computer.

Then I listened to another interview today which suggests that we may not be in control of our creative projects at all.

A true creator knows that you follow the thing to where it’s going, not where you think it ought to go.” – Adam Savage (via Tim Ferriss, again.)

Now that’s really interesting.

Is it that a creative project has a life of its own, and we’re not the master of the thing we came up with at all?

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo

It’s all very well for people of extraordinary vision like Michelangelo, but not everything is captured inside a block of marble. And if it is, not everybody can see the statue. Some just see a very difficult and painful afternoon.

I guess if you look at it from outside your own skull and the point in time that you’re at, every creative project has a trajectory and a rate of ‘success’, but we can’t see all of it from the beginning.

So maybe the point is just to set off along the path, and see where we get to.

Level Up Human, live at the Barbican!

Life rewired

Level Up Human, the podcast that redesigns the human body, is back at the Barbican!

The Barbican’s Life Rewired season considers what it means to be human when technology is changing everything. Is it enhancing our lives, challenging our identities, or both?

Join evolutionary revolutionary Simon Watt, hormone champion Dr. Miles Levy and me to give the body an almighty overhaul in this brand new episode.

Join us!

The Unfortunate Bisexual

TheUnfortunateBisexual

Cerys and I had so much fun previewing our new show, The Unfortunate Bisexual at Angel Comedy last night!

We were full to the rafters and had such a brilliant time trying out ideas. If you came along and want to keep in touch about the gig, join our facebook group for details of future events. We have a cabaret show on Friday at the Harrison in Kings Cross, and we’ll be putting more dates in the diary very soon.

How to Remember a Speech – Think Like a Drummer

I’ve written before about memory walks. But the problem is they can disconnect you slightly from the audience.

In your head you’re in a different place and I’m not sure on their own they’re enough.

Then I listened to an excellent podcast episode by Tim Ferriss. Tim was talking to one of the greatest drummers on the planet, Dave Elitch. If you haven’t heard of Dave, this video of him on tour with the Mars Volta is worth checking out if you don’t have a gig nearby!

Dave is one of those drummers that artists like Miley Cyrus call when their drummer suddenly breaks their arm or similar. Dave goes in for a rehearsal with a band, picks up their entire back catalogue in three weeks, and then goes on tour with them. Bearing in mind the drummer can make or break a gig all together, we need to learn from this man.

How does he do it?

I’ll play the song; I don’t know, like five or 10 times with my notes. And then I start, “Okay, I think I got it now.” Then I’ll put my notes away and just play. No, sorry. Then I’ll play with just the notes, no music. Then I’ll play –

Tim Ferriss: As you were saying. So you’re accompanying the music first with your notes.

Dave Elitch: Yes. And then when I get comfortable the next step –

Tim Ferriss: Turn off the music.

Dave Elitch: – and just play with the notes. And then the next step is music, no notes. And then the final step is just a click track, nothing else. So just a click track.

Tim Ferriss: Click track metronome.

Dave Elitch: Yeah. So I hear nothing, and I have to know it so well that I can get through the whole song in my head, hearing everything. That’s an insane amount of work. But the deal is when you get on stage, and there are 30,000 people screaming, and like with Miley (Cyrus), people throwing bras and underwear at me.

Tim Ferriss: Better than batteries and tomatoes, I guess. Or beer bottles.

Dave Elitch: Like at that moment, you have to know everything so well that that’s not going to faze you. It takes a long time. I’m in there for 10 or 12 hours at the beginning.

We’ve all been at one of those gigs where people are throwing batteries at us, right? No, me neither.

And then Ferriss goes explains how he goes about trying to learn a keynote:

Tim Ferriss: I want to note something for folks, and I’m so glad we got into this because that particular way that you laid out your progression for practicing a song is nearly identical to how a lot of the best public speakers also prepare their keynotes. They will take a keynote – and I learned to do this as well, but I was borrowing from other people – and instead of – let’s just say for the sake of simplicity, a 60-minute keynote – rather than trying to give the 60-minute keynote from start to finish, they’ll break it into four pieces.

Or what they’ll do – and this is something I started to model – is because the beginning and the ending is so important, actually breaking out the first five minutes and the last five minutes. Let’s make it simple. If it’s a 40-minute talk – this will make the math a little easier – first five minutes, then you have three 10-minute sections and then the last five minutes. And to practice each one of those individually, as opposed to in sequence. Initially, not paying attention to time, although having some rough idea of the total length. And then recording, listening to it, making these post-game analysis edits necessary.

So I’m going to try this. I have a 30 minute set to do on Wednesday night (come along if you’re around!) I’ve written 25 minutes worth of jokes, so I’m going to try to learn the first five, the last five, and then two chunks of about 7 in the middle.

The whole interview with Dave Elitch is here.

Do you have to learn stuff by heart? How do you go about it?

The 72 hour rule

Do you rush to Amazon to buy books and stationery and every single little thing that leaps into your brain? Yeah. Me too.

It’s too easy. Amazon Prime makes it simpler than ever to get stuff and there doesn’t seem to be a good reason not to once the dopamine is coursing round your brain.

The problem is, I’m not always 100% convinced it was a good idea afterwards.

Half way through last year I got strict with myself. If you really want it, I told myself, you’ll wait for three days. There’s nothing much in the world that you must have now.

So I adopted the 72 hour rule. I can’t remember where I got it from, I think I nicked it off somebody on a podcast.

Anyway, the 72 hour rule works like this. If you want something, you put it on a post-it note and stick it to the wall with reinforcing sellotape. Because otherwise you’ll find it under your desk three days later. Sometimes I put the date and time on it too.

If it survives three days, I’m allowed to buy it, and then if I don’t buy it within a week it has to go on the wall again. With around 6 out of 10 things, I look at it 24 hours later and think, ‘nah.’ Because I’m not full of dopamine anymore and I can see that whilst a skipping rope probably works for Dave Elitch, it’s not going to work for me.

I know, I’m absolutely no fun at all. Who doesn’t want a skipping rope?

But it has been useful. And I don’t just use it for stuff.

Now that we’re all connected to one another, it’s very easy for me to launch into a new project with certainty that it’s the best idea I’ve ever had. Then I get overwhelmed by the new project plus all the commitments I already have.

And that’s not good. Because if I keep launching projects and pulling out of them, people will get wary of working with me.

So I have to not do that.

Every project I want to launch or get involved with goes on the wall. I’ve avoided launching half a dozen new things I don’t have time to commit to this way.

If you want to apply a little more process to this, have a read of Benjamin Franklin’s decision making ‘way’.

“My way is to divide half a sheet of paper by a line into two columns; writing over the one Pro and over the other Con. Then during three or four days’ consideration, I put down under the different heads short hints of the different motives, that at different time occur to me, for or against the measure. When I have thus got them altogether in one view, I endeavour to estimate their respective weights; and where I find two, one on each side, that seem equal, I strike them both out. If I judge some two reasons con equal to some three reasons pro, I strike out five; and thus proceeding, I find where the balance lies; and if after a day or two of further consideration, nothing new that is of importance occurs on either side, I come to a determination accordingly.” –Benjamin Franklin

If it’s good enough for Ben F, it’s good enough for me.

What do you use to keep yourself on track? Let me know!