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The Nerdist Way

early cover concept art by Chris Glass; this will not be the final cover, however

As many of you know because of my blabbings, I’m releasing a book later this year (Fall-ish, I think) called The Nerdist Way. It is a productivity book for Nerds. It was born out of the fact that I have released many fuck-ups into the world throughout my life, and a handful of years ago turned to the Nerdier parts of my brain for help. I sense that there are many other Nerds out there looking for answers, so this is my attempt to reach out to all of them (or YOU) and share methods and tricks I’ve employed to straighten out my life. In my experience, Nerds have a very specific world-view and problem-solving approach coupled with hyper-self-awareness and a very active internal monologue. I believe it is possible to aim some of the traits that normally seem to attempt to cripple us with inactivity into the very engine that drives us forward. The content is a sort of first-person walk-thru of challenges I faced, and how I got around them. Tonally, it’s not unlike the WIRED article I wrote in ’08, Diary of a Self-Help Dropout. Though, if you listen to the podcast or read this site with any regularity, you probably have a pretty good idea how I present stuff.

I am BY NO MEANS perfect, but I pretty much never stop thinking about work, and how to streamline my life. I would tend to think I’d get an “above average” mark were there some kind of report card. I’m usually juggling a bunch of small, fun projects that I enjoy and that make me happy. If you are so inclined, I feel you deserve to be sprayed with some happiness as well doing what you love if you’re not currently experiencing it. Nerds were always shit on when I was growing up, so I feel excited and proud that we’ve now inherited a large chunk of this planet. IT IS OUR TIME TO RULE.

So now the point of this post…earlier today I got the following tweet from a nice chap who goes by @MDBowden:

Hey Chris, do you have any tips to get over writer’s block? I haven’t been able to write jokes for a while.

As I responded in a series of abbreviated DMs (I really do try to answer as many of those as possible) it occurred to me that there were probably more than a few specific points I might miss. Since the Nerdist stuff is really just a community of like-minded folks, I thought I would end each chapter or section by answering a few related queries. What you should know is that the book is that it’s divided into three sections:

MIND – how to manage your brain
BODY – how to manage your physical self
TIME – how to manage Einstein’s favorite dimension better to achieve the productivity you “so sorely need” (as Carl Carlson once said)

So that’s it. If you have any questions relating to any of the above-referenced sectors, please post them here and I will pull a few into the book and answer them to the best of my experience. Make sure to use whatever name suits you for crediting purposes. Also, hashtag your question with mind, body or time for easy sorting. And please don’t be shitty here. My intention with this book is to help other Nerds benefit from the lessons of my anxieties and mistakes, kind of like an older brother. Or an Overlord. Whoops! That last part just slipped out.

Hashtag HUGS.

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128 comments

  • How does one manage time so that they can do all the creative things they want to do, all the things they have to do (school and/or work), AND still have room for nerdy things, from little things like getting a little farther in a video game to big things like attending conventions?

  • How do you plan out your projects? Is it “tackle the largest project first then work your way down by the size of the remaining projects” or “tackle the project that’s most important first no matter what its size is”?

    Also, do you have any tips on keeping your mind focused? I’ve always been a thinker so my mind often wanders and I end up procrasting on projects.

  • Nerds love learning almost as much as they love things they’ve learned. As younglings, they are often teased and tormented for their yearning for knowledge, but once they enter the real world they can quickly develop a certain arrogance and sense of superiority. Do you think that sense is justified? If so, where do you draw the line? And if not, how do you silence that desire to be the smartest guy/gal in the room? Put simply, how does a nerd in the modern era comport himself on and offline without seeming too meek or too smug?

  • Do you feel that the complete elimination of alcohol from your life was an essential part of your development as a creative person, or was it more of a general health issue? Do you advocate sobriety as a important step to growing creatively?

  • Chris,
    I’ve always felt the biggest barrier to me is not knowing how to do the things to make my life better. It has always been a disconnect between planning and action. Always planning to make things better, maybe even making the first step, but never able to go past that. Did you face this challenge? How did you overcome it? Many people who finally overcame it seem to have a moment of clarity where everything has gone so wrong that they have no choice but to face being that way forever or changing, does that mean I have to continue down this path until there is no other choice? I’d like to have some hope for change before then.

    Thanks for your time and I look forward to the book.

  • I thought you were gonna have a survey and ask for our input when I clicked on the link. I was up for that as it was gonna help me procrastinate from doing my work, which is responding to student writing. Yes, I’m a writing teacher–not your mother’s writing teacher, I should point out, and I don’t red pen stuff and I work on lots of mind/attitude stuff in the classroom. (Occasionally we talk yoga, but only about fun things like how cool it is that dogs actually do the down dog pose!) Anywho, I got input galore, but no questions per se.

  • #Mind#

    One thing that has dogged me throughout my life is I have always seemed to lack the ambition gene. I was blessed with an uncommon intellect, and have, at the ripe old age of mid thirty-something, started back at school, pursuing a major in Biochem. But I am still looking for any advice on keeping myself motivated through undergrad then grad school.

  • How do you stay focused on projects and interests? I spend a lot of time obsessing over all my nerdy interests but have a hard time staying focused on any one nerdy obsession long enough to complete many projects.

  • Flatulator brought up sidepoint. Having achieved more success sober than as a drunk, do you feel there is any credence to the idea that creative people need drugs or alcohol to be creative?

  • When it comes to reach ones goals, how do you put your mind into a positive place when things aren’t really going your way?

    I’ve been unemployed for 7 or 8 months now and somedays its hard to shake this feeling like you don’t know where your life is heading. I have my goals in mind and have them defined, but when you feel like things just aren’t working how do you keep trucking?

    Thanks Chris, can’t wait to pick up the book.

  • How do you decide what you want to actually work on when everything you do you love? I’m in medical school so I have that aspect of my brain, I write stand-up, I have a few ideas for novels that I’ve tried to start, I’ve written poetry/songs, and I want to read new interesting books (ps can’t wait for the book) and watch documentaries. How do you choose whether you want to write stand up or work on Hard and Phirm songs or come up with stuff for Web Soup or write wired articles or write a book? Do you focus on one (which is difficult when your doing long term projects) or jump around?

  • Where do you make the distinction between anxiety and analysis with regard to reflecting on recent actions, events, interactions with peers and coworkers, and motivations?

    When does the inner monologue become destructive rather than reflective, and what are the best ways to keep your conscious mind tuned toward analysis for future improvement rather than anxiety over the past?

    #mind

  • 1. As a curious people, nerds have a tendency to engage in research allowing our interests to follow different tangents. How do you make the most of tangential research?
    2. We nerds often have deep cerebral interests which at times may expand at the exclusion of more physical and social activities, what are three things one can do to stay in shape, stay connected, and stay nerdy?
    C. Lists: Roman Numerals, Letters, Numbers? what’s best?

  • I know this issue has been hashed and re-hashed and who-hashed over and 0ver again. But I want the expert’s opinion: how would YOU define the differences between a nerd and a geek? For me, it’s a fine line, but I lean toward “geek” myself.

  • You define a “Nerd” as one who absorbs themselves, for instants you and comedy, in things that interest them. But at what point can that adsorption become obsessive? What are identifying marks to help one from getting to that point?