Brain vomit

I’ve been trying to pick out directives when reading books. If I’m going to continue writing about podcasts, I’ll try writing about a directive that I got from an episode.

I enjoy Tim Ferriss’s podcast because he’s curious about routines and rituals. Especially when it comes to writing and what people do first thing in the morning. Mike Birbiglia was a guest recently and he talked about his writing routine. He says it’s helped him just get a draft out quickly:

[…] I call a “throw up pass” . I would go to coffee shops in the morning. My minimum is 3 hours. I stick myself in a coffee shop with no internet. No email, no anything. If it’s going well, 5 hours. If it’s not going well, I stop at 3 hours.

Tim says he tossed a few drafts of the Four Hour Work-Week and then he re-wrote the first chapter in an email compose window1. That worked.

Mike usually writes around 7am in a coffee shop (drink of choice: cappuccino). He writes for three hours minimum and up to five hours if it’s going well.

I spent nine hours in a coffee shop once. I was wondering if I was bugging the employees but then the afternoon shift started. Then I was wondering if I was bugging a new set of employees by staying there for so long.

I try following these guidelines if going to a place to write and not quite for the coffee: one drink every 2 hours and a $2 tip. I read some form of that (I’m guessing on a Bill Simmons podcast years ago) but it’s stuck with me that way.

Mike says he’ll sometimes write longhand. I was trying this earlier in my 100 posts project and I want to get back to it, because the end results seemed better than most other posts. Probably because I was forced to re-type things to go through a real revision.

Quick first drafts aren’t a new concept or anything, but Mike’s description of it resonated with me. The first draft is not a precious thing—the important part is getting it out at all.

  1. I remember seeing a tweet from a designer that said they wrote drafts in Gmail. Then they’d take it to Docs. I searched and searched and couldn’t find it.