Written with the help of a bloke (WIP):
Michael Dean’s kaleidoscopic writing helps content creators think like artists. His architectural mind and untethered voice will inspire you to take risks and think differently about your creativity, identity, and society.
Essays through Dean's List
If you're subscribed to Dean's List, you'll get my essays through email. I aspire to resist the niche, to experiment with prose, tone, and imagery, and to hold nothing back. I'm inspired by counter-cultural movements, the psychology of the subconscious, and pattern architectures. You can expect 2-6 essays a month, on random days, at random times, about random topics.
As a past-life architect, I have a compulsive urge to structure and organize. Here are the categories that I've retroactively lassoed my writing into.
- The craft, tactics, and perspective of online writing.
- Sometimes I do impressions of my favorite writers.
- Autobiographical short-stories under auto-fiction.
- The Metaverse (I've been a VR specialist since 2014).
- Everything else falls under wonky-town.
Here's what I’ve published recently
- Newsletter Junkyard -- We're in a newsletter arms-race. What happens when everyone has one and they all sound the same? Overwhelm, skimming, and email fatigue. The old tricks around niches & weekly streaks are becoming predictable. What makes a newsletter exciting to open each time?
- One-Click Distribution -- I've decided to transplant both my website and newsletter into Ghost (this will surprise those who know me as "the Notion guy.") Sounds drastic, but systems should be fluid so they can combat your most important bottleneck.
- Wallacisms: The Art of Writing Memorable Observations (Rated R) -- "Big Red Son," is an outrageous David Foster Wallace essay about a 1998 porn convention. By dissecting it, we'll learn some (non-vulgar) tricks to help our writing jump through the page. Use relatable metaphors. Make unlikely associations. Look behind the scenes.
Monthly stream of consciousness logs
I started an experiment called logloglog back in December of 2021. The idea was to capture all the mildly significant thoughts going through my head, in public, in prose. It's like a low-traffic non-social Twitter where I post 10-50 times a day. It gives me the freedom to write without pressure or restriction (or a word count!). Sometimes I leave 2-3 word breadcrumbs for my future self. Sometimes a quick note can balloon into an accidental essay. Here's a recap post I shared after 100 days of logging.
I started this around the time I started reading Fernando Pessoa's "The Book of Disquiet." He basically wrote fragments throughout his day for 21 years, and editors assembled his best ones after he died. It's remarkable to read-- you feel like you actually step into another person's head and experience their consciousness.
In addition to my essays, I'll send out an occasional email with some of my favorite logs of the month. It'll include a link to the full log in case you want to dive in. Here are links to my logs from the last 6 months.
Twitter Threads about Writing
Twitter has always felt like a chaotic orgy of slang parrots to me. I've felt analysis paralysis on how to dive in. Niching down on Twitter felt like a reductive clamp that would shape my whole writing effort. Now, I see it as a small, separate, isolated mini-game. It doesn't have to be the place where I experiment with prose, go full-on polymath mode, or share my shower thoughts. Instead, it's a place to wrangle ideas into a compressed, structured format (something I'm intrinsically interested in).
Writing-related Twitter threads can do two things at once, 1) they can build awareness of Write of Passage, and 2) introduce people to my own writing.
Here are the last few threads I wrote:
- 14 lessons from the Feedback Gym -- I've given feedback on over 500 essays in Write of Passage, and I run a daily "Feedback Gym." After 1:1 breakout rooms, we each share one meta-point on the writing process. Here's a thread of the writing wisdom we've gathered:
- 6 ways David Foster Wallace masters observatoinal writing -- My wife got me a David Foster Wallace book for my birthday. She didn't know the first essay was a 57-page dive into a 1998 porn convention. I read it twice, not only because it's outrageous, but because of the craft. Here are 6 (non-vulgar) ways to write memorable observations:
2021. Focused on online writing and launched The Writing Studio
2020. Setup 60 architects with VR-based remote design reviews
2019. Wrote original songs and performed with a band in NYC
2018. VR Specialist at an international architecture firm
2017. Astoria roots– apartment, office, studio– 10 minute walk
2016. Introduced 2,000 people to their first 6 DOF VR experience
2015. Learned Unreal Engine, founded a VR consulting company
2014. Visual notation for songwriting
2013. Architecture thesis: facilities for psychedelic therapy
2012. Designed and built a recycling center in Costa Rica
Don’t hesitate to reach out to me about anything.