Excellent (2010) piece by Michael Lopp on writing a book on the side:
„Writing is a game of inches. No author I know sits down every morning in their home office and steadily produces three pages a day. I’m sure they’re out there, but these annoyingly efficient and profitable authors aren’t doing this on the side.“
So true. When I wrote my two short books, I would sometimes write an entire chapter in one afternoon and sometimes spend an entire day straightening out a single sentence. In general, what really helped me were friendly kicks in the butt by my coach and friend Jonathan. Knowing that I had to explain to him what I had (or hadn’t) done since our last call was more motivating than anything else. So I guess for some of us having a co-conspirator can help if you can’t get going on your own.
The second major thing was place: I wrote both books while being on the road. And while this normally isn’t conducive to getting things done, I made sure I traveled to places where I would find some quietude and inspiration. One of these places turned out to be so wonderful I ended up moving here.
This made me crack up a little:
As I settle into one of these (writing) mornings, it’s just as likely that I’ll write as it is that I’ll count the number of folks in the room who’ve chosen to drink from ceramic mugs versus paper cups.
The bottomline is that if we’re looking for distractions, we’re going to find them. You can leave your smartphone at home and block all the internet that you want, but if you’re not focussed, you’re not focussed. So to add a third piece of advice from my experience: Make it easy for yourself to get going. I know some people like to stop writing when they know exactly what they’re going to write next. Some even stop mid-sentence. As for me, a short outline or a few notes on the upcoming chapter can work wonders to skip the mug-counting and get into writing mode the next day.
Jason Kottke links to a worthwhile piece on Mashable (of all things). If you want to make the internet better in 2018, it states, stop getting your stories on Facebook and start to…:
Use your browser bar.*
[*Or bookmarked websites.]
Literally, all you need to do: Type in web addresses. Use autofill! Or even: Google the website you want to go to, and go to it. Then bookmark it. Then go back every now and again.
Instead of reading stories that get to you because they’re popular, or just happen to be in your feed at that moment, you’ll read stories that get to you because you chose to go to them.
And while we’re RSS people more than bookmarks people here on TFA, I still wanted to second that recommendation. Of course, you already know that. But help a friend. Help your mum. Show them the beauty of the indieweb and assist them get off their social media drugs.
P.S. Austin Kleon on the matter:
“Be dilettante in your inputs but focused in your output.”
– Taylor Pearson
Walter Isaacson on Walker Percy’s Theory of Hurricanes:
“Why is a man apt to feel bad in a good environment, say suburban Short Hills, N.J., on an ordinary Wednesday afternoon?” Percy wrote in one of his essays. “Why is the same man apt to feel good in a very bad environment, say an old hotel on Key Largo during a hurricane?” Part of the answer is that when a hurricane is about to hit, we no longer feel uncertain about our role in the world. Everyone is focused, connected, engaged. We know what we’re supposed to do, and we do it.
Things are different when something is at stake: You stop the petty fighting, you get rid of distractions, and you begin to do what’s right.
How do we know what’s right, though? I’m currently reading Gerd Gigerenzer’s take on risk and intuition, and I wonder whether a hurricane situation allows us to act more intuitively. Needless to say that hurricanes can be all kinds of things: In any dramatic situation, we either unconsciously bypass our rational routines or we allow ourselves to ignore them – opening a pathyway for our intuition to take over. Maybe this isn’t a complete picture of the magic that’s happening, but I would guess it’s a part of it.
“The problem with storms is that they pass”, says Isaacson. He’s right, but it’s worse: The problem with storms is that – despite all their downsides – they need to occur in the first place. Because if they don’t, we simply get stuck in what Percy calls “the malaise”.
One of my big questions since starting this blog: How can we act better without suffering from the hurricane in the first place?
We can define all kinds of things as procrastination: Surfing the web, walking the dog, doing the dishes. How about work?
Seldom do we see work as procrastination. But isn’t work often a form of procrastination, preventing us from doing what we actually should be doing?
A few things come to mind, in escalating order:
- Getting to inbox zero instead of working on project X.
- Working on project X instead of working on the much more important project Y.
- Working on project Y instead of solving a long-standing conflict with a co-worker.
- Solving that conflict instead of taking over the groundbreaking project Z in the other department.
- Taking over project Z instead of quitting your job and living the life you secretly wished for during the last 20 years.
(See also: Procrastinate on Tasks, Not on Your Life. The post image shows my friend Lourenço, who gets this stuff just right.)