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The Falcone Essay

May 2022

Hello everyone! Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter. As part of this thanks here is the second in a series of short essays that I’ve written exclusively for my subscribers. Your support means the world and I hope that you’ll enjoy my musings on writing, pop culture, productivity, and ancient history.
On Putting Down the Duckie

In a 1986 episode of Sesame Street, there is a segment where Ernie (performed by Jim Henson) approaches Hoots the Owl (performed by Kevin Clash) to learn to play the saxophone. Ernie had been trying to play, but every time he made an attempt he was thwarted by the squeak of his rubber duck that he held in his hand. Hoots explains that if Ernie wants to play the saxophone he needs to put down the duckie. The song was written to explain to children that it is okay to have a favourite toy, but you don’t need to carry it with you all the time. Sometimes you need to put it down in order to do other fun things. While not as well-known as Rubber Ducky or C is for Cookie, the song is still a banger and the video had a number of amazing guest stars. Give a watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acBixR_JRuM&t=73s

But why do I mention this? I have been thinking about this video as part of the work I’m doing on creative productivity. We often become interested in creating because we are fans of the genre or medium in the first place. Maybe you love movies and want to be a screenwriter, maybe you are into comic books or video games and want to enter those fields. Whatever you want to create you probably were a fan first, and hopefully, you still remain a fan while your creative engine is firing on all cylinders. However, and this is the tricky part, you can’t consume more than you create. You can’t put more time and energy into your hobbies than you do into creating something new. There just isn’t enough time in the day.

For example, I want to write. So, before I go to bed each day I do my absolute best to ensure that happens. But I also love video games, reading, comic books, movies, or any number of other hobbies or interests. And it is great to have those other interests! You need them to decompress from the workday, but you can’t immerse yourself in hobbies before you've written, drawn, or done whatever it is you want to do. You cannot consume more than you create otherwise you won’t get anything done. If you’ve had time to play video games for an hour each day you’ve had time to write. But if you haven’t written you need to ask yourself why. And it’s okay if you decide you don’t want to write! Maybe you have a day job, or young children, or life has become a lot. You might need your hobby time to recharge your batteries. But you won’t get that novel written.

So, I would suggest that you don’t consume until you’ve created. If you play video games for an hour each day then write for 30 minutes and play video games for the rest of the time. You’ll alleviate your guilt, create something, and still get your decompression time. Hoots explains to Ernie that he doesn’t need to get rid of the duck (and you don’t need to get rid of your hobbies), but you need to pause your hobby to be able to create something new.

You gotta put down the duckie if you wanna play the saxophone.
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