Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
I’m Ludvig Sunstrom, author of Breaking out of Homeostasis. I’m also an online entrepreneur and creator/host of two popular podcasts.
Breaking out of Homeostasis is my philosophy for how to live intelligently, effectively and happily in modern society, despite the many evolutionary mismatches we are facing. Basically, our brains and bodies haven’t changed much in the last 150,000 years, while our environment and technology has. Many people are unknowingly leading poor lifestyles and making uninformed decisions that will affect them negatively over the long-term. The biggest problem is homeostasis, our body’s natural mechanism for wanting to be comfortable and stay the same. When homeostasis is sustained too long it makes you weaker; like a virus, it gradually takes control of its host.
Homeostasis is like an autopilot that directs nearly everything else you do. (People talk about habits and addictions; homeostasis is what keeps those things fixed.) Homeostasis was helpful for cavemen because their environment had more threats and fewer rewards. Homeostasis is bad for modern man because we have few threats and lots of rewards (we can watch TV and have junk food delivered to our home). Because of these changes in society, we now have to take matters into our own hands and engineer our lives to Break out of homeostasis regularly–or we will be misled by the brain and body to take shortcuts and seek cheap thrills at the expense of our long-term health and wealth. Basically: unless you regularly break out of homeostasis, you will become weak and lazy. My book shows you how to have a more active lifestyle by changing your diet, habits, psychology, and using your brain and body more.
What is the premise of your book?
What originally prompted me to write the book was that I struggled with health issues that began as a child and culminated in my early twenties. On the outside I looked normal, but inside I was not feeling good. I would have nosebleeds, stomach aches, head aches, sleeping problems, and overall lack of motivation. I was also addicted to video games. When I was 21 I found out I had a serious stomach disease called Candida Albicans, which is hard to recover from. The situation put a figurative gun to my head and I studied everything I could find about health, diet, physiology, neuroscience and a plethora of other topics like psychology spirituality and philosophy. I took the most useful ideas from each of these fields and applied to my life (one of those ideas were homeostasis). I experimented until I found a diet that healed my gut, incorporated intermittent fasting and longer periods of fasting, and subsequently cured my candida in less than a year.
That’s how the original version of the book was born. Over the following 4 years, I wrote articles on my blog and built up an audience while attending university. After graduation I published the official version of the book, building onto my original framework with knowledge from more than 200 books I’d read since.
What inspired your creativity?
At the time I first got the idea about the book, it was dealing with my health problems. After fixing that, it was my curiosity to continue exploring those different topics I’d originally found.
I think that’s true as a whole. You learn by having problems and overcoming them. Writing and podcasting are good mediums for sharing that knowledge with others.
You cannot write good books without personal experience of your subject matter. I suppose you can be a good writer who creatively explores different topics, but in order to make a sellable product or service, you do need some personal experience and/or domain authority.
How do you deal with creative block?
I don’t believe in creative block, the way it’s usually defined.
I think if you’re dealing with a creative block it means you do not have the experience to write/work on the project. Or you lack the passion, curiosity and interest. If you have all of these, and still find yourself with “creative block”, it’s not lacking creativity that’s the problem; it’s lacking discipline. Anyone can write 1000 words per day on a topic they know well and have an interest for.
Do you have any creativity tricks?
The best way I have found to harness creativity is by listening to my body. Some days I am a lot more creative than other days. On these days I focus on doing creative work such as writing, researching, and so on.
I originally discovered this by keeping a 30-day journal and marking every day I felt more creative than usual with an X.
I wrote a practical article about this experiment and would recommend it to anyone. It’s cheap, can be done in a month or less, and will have a big positive impact on your work.
Another extremely useful practice is to keep a commonplace system. This is not a “creativity trick,” per se, but a way of collecting thoughts and ideas across topics. I use this method for all my research and creative work (writing articles, working on websites, podcast production, product creation, journaling and studies, and more). Every serious writer, professional creative, or knowledge worker should keep a commonplace.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
I think that depends entirely on what your goal with the book is.
Every author wants to make money, but writing books as a profession isn’t what it used to be 10-20+ years ago. There are better ways to make money than writing books. But that shouldn’t stop you from writing if you have something meaningful to contribute to culture, or something useful to share with people who need that information.
Generally speaking, the biggest mistakes are probably: Not having a clear purpose for writing the book, not knowing its intended audience, and writing about something that won’t stand the test of time (like a trend).
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
I haven’t had that many bad reviews, but certainly a lot of negative feedback. It comes with the territory these days, especially if you have a website or use social media.
As a principle, I listen to feedback (even if it’s negative) from my own audience or from well-intentioned people. I ignore negative feedback if it’s passive-aggressive and lacks depth.
Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
If I’m writing a book, I’ll tend more towards personal satisfaction, because it’s my name on the book. And as I previously mentioned, there are better ways to make money than writing books. A good compromise is to write articles or do podcasts, and see what people are interested in (what gets traffic or high engagement); then you are serving both yourself and your readers/listeners.
What are your plans for future books?
I have three books I would like to write over the coming years, and I’ve done extensive research for all of them. One book about future skills, another one about specialism versus generalism, and a third about great historic figures and how they tend to come in clusters. I am in no hurry to publish these books.