Pooka Doesn't Do Windows

Jan 31 2023

A Pooka is a mythological creature (popular in Irish and Germanic culture) that takes on many forms. It can be a spirit of mischief, other times a creature of good will, always with the power to create and destroy. In college, my Trivium teacher used the image of a Pooka to talk about the creative writing process, imploring us that “Pooka doesn’t do windows” - that we should just write. Editing (i.e. “doing the windows”) comes later.

This may seem like simple advice for the aspiring writer but I’ve seen it work elsewhere.

In golf, don’t think about swing mechanics or pro tips when you’re on the course, just swing freely (do the windows at the range).

In reading, doing research, or sitting in class, don’t worry about taking notes every 30 seconds - keep your mind free to focus on what’s most important (do the windows and summarize later).

In conversation, debate, or public speaking, don’t worry about your immediate response or your next great idea, just speak freely and truly (do the windows and reflect later).

As I was writing this I’m reminded of a great scene from Finding Forrester that speaks exactly to this idea:

Regardless of whether this “works”, wouldn’t life be more fun this way? Spending far less time analyzing, premeditating, thinking, worrying, forecasting, projecting, and instead just doing?

I think one way (for me at least) to live more like this to get over the fear of looking stupid. Just try something, explore it and don’t worry about how it’s packaged or how it’ll be received or how it compares to something else or whether this breaks from your public image or whether it seems amatuerish or whatever other excuses we invent to keep ourselves from exploring ourselves. I’m betting we spend too much time (especially on social media) inhabiting a meaningless echo chamber, and not enough time genuinely exploring something for its own sake.

But why does this matter? Because the robots are, in fact, coming for our jobs (and that’s largely a good thing). Technology like AI will only continue to improve and automate away more work. And so the more you make your life’s work an act of creation, the less likely it’ll be replicated by an LLM.

On a deeper note, I think life’s more fun when it’s an act of creation. Most work can feel limiting. Here’s a problem, go solve it, repeat. But life really can’t be about solving one miserable problem after another. There has to be more. And it’s up to us to create it.

So try letting Pooka run free, and worry about the windows later.

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