It’s Friday evening and I have a weekend with no traveling. Three hours into any flight and this sounded like gold. Now that it’s here I wonder what I was looking forward to so much. Here are five links I enjoyed this week.
Ryan Holiday answers a question he’s probably asked pretty often: Why Do You Write So Much?
I have become a much better writer as the result of committing to produce more. There is only one way to improve at a craft–and it’s putting hours into it. I consider what I write online to be practice. An opportunity to interact with an audience and challenge myself to continually improve.
The 10,000 hour rule is pretty well known but I know that it has to be 10,000 good hours. Right now I’m just trying to establish the routine of writing and sending it off to the world. That’s what this 100-day project is about. I’m committing to produce more.
Then I’ll focus on deliberately improving. Whether that’s working on mechanics, structure, longer pieces, or challenging myself to write about deeper topics.
Technical writer Tom Johnson answers a similar question: Why I’m So Visible
I should have focused on a topic outside of myself. This is partly why I don’t mind expending energy to write about topics in technical communication. Tech comm may not be something I lie awake at night thinking about, but it at least focuses the topic away from memoir.
I’m working on this. I’ll focus more on specific topics instead of rambling about myself. You know, eventually.
When you don’t want to write, set an egg timer for one hour (or half hour) and sit down to write until the timer rings. If you still hate writing, you’re free in an hour. But usually, by the time that alarm rings, you’ll be so involved in your work, enjoying it so much, you’ll keep going. Instead of an egg timer, you can put a load of clothes in the washer or dryer and use them to time your work. Alternating the thoughtful task of writing with the mindless work of laundry or dish washing will give you the breaks you need for new ideas and insights to occur. If you don’t know what comes next in the story… clean your toilet. Change the bed sheets. For Christ sakes, dust the computer. A better idea will come.
With my programming hat on, the pomodoro technique has given me mixed results. For writing, it’s been a little more effective. Breaking the big blog of time into intervals helps if something is already outlined. As far as stepping away and letting things simmer on the backburner, it works just about every time. Now I just need a duster.
You don’t really think you can skip today because you’ll do twice as much tomorrow, right?
This is a reddit thread with /u/moebius23 who shared tips for writing daily after writing 1,000 words daily for a year. Then he did it again for year two. After I finish this 100-day project I’m planning to write something similar. There seems to be a lot more content about writing for your novel every day than there is for, say, blogging1. (Which is pretty much what I’m doing.)
If you wake up on Saturday morning and go surfing to decompress for the week, that is different from having to wake up at six every morning Monday to Friday and take investment bankers out to surf.
Another week, another Tim Ferriss link. I started this writing project inspired by one of his podcast episodes. I like a lot of what he writes, including this article on the creative process. Something Tim asks a lot of guests is, “What’s something that you’ve changed your mind about in the past year or two?”2
Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You kickstarted me changing my mind about exclusively following your passion. A few years ago, I believed that was, say, top 3 for best things to do to be successful. Then I realized how incredibly lucky I am that one of my passions in middle school (making things on the internet) panned out to be a pretty good career decision.
Even now, trying to write more, I have more of what Cal calls “career capital”. I know what it’s like to have someone from security drive to your formerly-a-military-barracks building to scold you for installing Skype. And I know what it’s like to hear Mickey Drexler over the office speaker system throughout the day.
Side projects following your passion will always be more fun than work. Even if your passion becomes your work. Because then your passion becomes work. And that’s great, because then you can improve and excel. But it’s a mistake to expect it ever to be as fun as when you were photoshopping your friends’ heads on things to post to your GeoCities site.
Actually, there probably is a lot of stuff on working on your blog every day. But I’m guessing it’s about things like SEO, WordPress plugins, commenting, guest posting, mailing lists, and building a readership. First, I really want to buy into having some kind of content worth sharing. ↩
It’s great because people so rarely change their minds. A couple years ago, I read Think and Grow Rich or How to Make Friends and Influence People and there was a passage about how fruitless it can be to try changing someone’s mind. You can’t win an argument trying to change their mind during that one, single argument. Realizing how true that is was an aha moment for me and has probably saved me from a lot of dumb arguments. ↩