One Habit of People With One Perspective

As a self-employed author-publisher, I spend an amount of time researching improvements to my processes; and I receive – directly or to groups I’m part of – recommendations for articles and methods that have boosted the greatest entrepreneurs to uber-mega-greatness. And some of the advice I find is very useful. But some of it misses what is, for me, a key point: work is a means not an end.

A Taxing Choice

Despite – or perhaps because of – the Bank Holiday, it has been a busy week so far. Events seem to be slackening for the second half of the week, so my plan to not have much work to do once my wife returns from camp is rocking back onto the rails again. But, it did raise a question I had not had to face since I ceased having a manager to act as final arbiter: is it better to deal with as many difficult issues as possible quickly, or space them out within the time available?

Write Stuff

One of the community’s I am a part of had a thread using KM Weiland’s list of 15 signs you might not be acting like a writer as a checklist. The article contains some useful advice, so I recommend taking a glance if you do write. Although I do not believe being an author is a matter of ticking boxes, I thought I would share my compliance (or lack thereof) for people who are interested in me.

Is the Change as Good as the Rest?

I have thought recently that word-counts – while very satisfying to meet – can cause more issues than benefits. With Camp NaNoWriMo half way through I have encountered several people who are struggling to keep up with a self-imposed word count. They have written more than casually for a while, possibly even daily, and have set themselves a slightly challenging target; now they are failing to achieve even their previous productivity. The issue might well be that finely granular word counts are not what most people need to be productive.

Keeping Score

I have posted previously on getting tasks done by doing them first, which – in spite of the joy of cats – still works for me. However, it might not work for the specific set of tasks and time pressures other people face. Miss Miry Mosey posted recently about her use of a game to motivate herself to write (and do other things). Having been the recipient of many merit stamps at school, I am fully aware that the mere possibility of incrementing a number can sometimes be enough. If it is not, then you can make the game can be made more complex.

Bathing In The After-Glower

Everyone who has submitted an essay, written a presentation, or undertaken any creative act is familiar with the feeling of failure that can come after it has left our control: a feeling of having missed out a key point, used graceless language, or forged dross. With many people having just attempted the project of writing 50,000 words in a month this feeling will be more prevalent than ever at the moment.

Sometimes–more nearly like every time–after finishing a project, I hate it. – Sarah Peck

If we are lucky we do not need to return to the project so the harsh feelings can fade into memory. However more often we do have to return: whether it is maintaining software or finishing a novel. If we are truly unlucky our inner critic turns dislike of one project into dislike of any similar project, impeding or halting our progress. We must find a way to overcome the after-glower.

Chasing the Cheetah

With NaNoWriMo starting tomorrow I felt like sharing some suggestions for prioritising on a task when you do not have weeks to build up to it. To fit with the continuing animal theme I have called upon Cheetah for his ability to sprint. As fits the need to quickly meet a goal, each suggestion is a potential boost and not a step in a plan. Despite being inspired by finding time to write, they could be applied to packing boxes when moving house, revising for exams, and other finite tasks that we want to complete but do not always enjoy.

Elephant on Toast

Over the last few weeks I have repeatedly come across quotes from various sources saying that you have all the time you need to do everything you want. If you are like me your inner critic jumps on this as an excuse to remind you of all the goals you have not met yet. So you have decide to stop procrastinating, and are already avoiding the time-sink of Minesweeper and its associates, but there are many necessary tasks that also call for our attention that cannot be as easily ignored. It is therefore unfortunate that reminding you that various famous people only had the same 24 hours in a day is often the extent of the quote.

As a result I have constructed my own method of spending an increased part of the day on more than routine.

Eating the Frog

And time yet for a hundred indecisions
And time for a hundred visions and revisions
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
– TS Eliot, The Lovesong of Alfred Prufrock

Many courses and articles on improving your writing mention the need to try writing at different times of the day to discover the most productive times to write, and there is no denying that at certain times of the day when I am more able to focus without effort. However, there are other considerations that the real world of dust and children and work apply to our time that, even if you are lucky enough to have a flexible schedule (as I am at the moment) affect the use of these slots of optimal writing time.

Since I first encountered it I have been a believer in the “Eat a Live Frog For Breakfast