Is it just me, or does it seem as though there's a proliferation of Good Advice being offered these days? Don't get me wrong, I love advice. If I'm running short on time when reading the paper, I skip straight to Carolyn Hax; I have Austin Kleon's Steal Like an Artist top ten list taped over my desk at work (along with Bruce J. MacLennan's Programming Principles, which is a nice counterbalance). I appreciate that everyone has something useful to offer you, even if it's a lead by negative example or cautionary tale. I even offer it myself, at least when it comes to matters on which I feel qualified to offer an opinion. But it's gotten to be--dare I say?--a bit much. All roads seem to lead to some sort of TED talk, or a "you're doing it wrong" themed article, or a "Top Ten Ways You Can Do Something Better Than the Way You Are Currently Doing It by A Self-Proclaimed Expert on the Subject." Perhaps it's a sign we are all furiously looking for reassurance that we're living our lives in the right way, or that advice has gone the way of politics; you just find the people whose opinions you already agree with, and can thus pat yourself on the back for doing the right thing.
The other day, however, I stumbled across Cal Newport's Study Hacks, which I've found useful, particularly the Craftsman Manifesto. It went to the heart of an issue that were always nagging the back of my mind, as someone who deplores simplistic "follow your passion" advice which is all that seems to be offered in the art world, who hated being a student but loves learning things, and struggles with the nagging suspicion that in order to be good at something, you can't rely on flow alone, which can easily lead to not sufficiently challenging yourself. I wish I had a copy of his books when I was a student, too. Probably would've saved me a bit of anguish.