Troublesome Marco Arment, the man who accepts only the best in everything but can’t produce semantic markup at his Tumblr day job, offers unsolicited advice for the lower orders who barely manage to roll out of bed in the morning:

I was asked… how I write essays here that occasionally make sense. If you’ll forgive my auto-back-patting, here’s the answer I gave, and I think it’s worth sharing with you because you can do the same sort of thing for your benefit. […]

Managing my time is trickier. The short answer is that I cherry-pick: Instapaper is a collection of fairly simple things. I don’t do anything for it that requires massive amounts of time, because I simply don’t have enough time to do that. It usually ends up taking 4-8 hours per week, which fits easily into a few evenings or a single weekend day.

This is where Merlin [Mann]’s influence comes in. He’s great at reminding me… that it’s easier to be highly productive when you only have a limited time window in which to do so. It’s easier to perform an amazing, in-the-zone, four-hour block of work on a Friday night if I’m leaving town the next day and I know that it’s is the only chance I’ll get all week to work on Instapaper. […]

[I]t’s useful to picture Merlin looking over my shoulder when I’m slacking off and browsing the Internet instead of working.

Merlin voice in my head: “Is that really a good use of your time? What did you make today?”

Workaholics tread dangerous waters when they dare to give the little people advice on how they spend their time, particularly if the subject is writing. Marco Arment isn’t a writer; as with graphic designers, he’s a software developer who isn’t illiterate, and his own time-management practices offer little for actual writers.

As I wrote him via electronic mail:

The lacuna into which you fell in your post was the one where the desiccated remains of Mann and Gruber sit – an assumption that the only constraint available is time. The question “What did I make today?” merely provides a handily quotable guilt trip to be used against people who have other things happening in their life.

Writers not uncommonly are poor, underworked, and depressive and anxious, all of which actively inhibit the pursuit of writing while magnifying any guilt trips that unimpaired superachievers have helpfully offered. (I am indeed saying that having too little work to actually do inhibits doing other work.)

Additionally, by any reasonable estimation Mann is bipolar and his intermittent bursts of productivity, writing style, and punchiness are explainable as manic periods. Of course I would also say that to his face.

I would strongly encourage you to read The Midnight Disease.

(I should have also included Doctorow in this analysis, since his hypergraphia is so extreme he can write on command and continue doing so until one minute before he has to “shut the PowerBook” and head to his next engagement.)

Marco just told me to fuck off, then did the same thing on Twitter, the hip cyberbullying platform that is even more effective at that task than Arment’s own platform.

Hypergraphic workaholics need to keep their advice to themselves

  • Writers, like procrastinators (two overlapping sets), already know perfectly well what they should be doing and why they aren’t.

  • Merlin Mann realized that 43 Folders was becoming a buzzword and a bludgeon, so, in a gutsy and admirable move, he shitcanned that project and started something else.

  • Any kind of advice from people who have no trouble getting things done will have a bludgeoning effect. It does not prompt people who cannot get things done to actually do so. It just makes them feel worse.

  • Writers already have their own Merlin Mann hovering over the shoulder reminding them they’re worthless.

Marco Arment tarnishes Tumblr’s reputation

Marco’s intemperance isn’t giving only him a bad name. It’s affecting the reputation of Tumblr as a company. It was only yesterday that acting like a jerk torpedoed a $5 million acquisition deal. If Tumblr wants to become the next big thing, Marco Arment is going to have to grow up.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2010.06.18 13:06. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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