Writing

The List #19

I hope all the American readers out there had a great Thanksgiving and all the non-American readers out there had a great end of November. I come to you bearing a gift for your weekend relaxation -- The List #19!

I Was Looking Forward to Gummy Bears - The File Drawer

Shameless self-promotion. Episode three of my podcast with classmate/BFF Eric Middleton is out. Pretty good episode minus our newb status with getting our microphones setup correctly. We just recorded episode four today and I think we've finally ironed out all our mic issues. Now you can say you listened to us back when we were clueless, or something.

The Habits of Highly Productive Writers - The Chronicle of Higher Education

I aspire to be a highly productive writer and this article is better than many I've read recently offering advice for being just that. It's tailored toward academics but I think mostly applies to anyone trying to do something with the written word.

This 15 Minute-Activity Will Make You More Successful at Work - Business Insider

I'll save you the suspense and tell you the 15 minute activity is writing at the end of the workday. I'm working on a chapter along with some classmates about metacognition (thinking about thinking) and leadership development. As part of my research for the chapter I came across a study that showed students who kept a learning journal over the course of a semester learned more than their classmates who did not. I think this is probably a similar thing that's going on here.

Zen and the Art of Cubicle Living - The Atlantic

Interesting to see what organizations are doing to push forward the art and science of workspace design. I think it's fairly obvious there is no best design and the best workplaces of the future will have a variety of different types of spaces available for the various types of work to be done and then personalities of the people doing that work.

Photo by Mario Acosta Garcia

Letter Writing as a Tool

"Before the advent of email, many writers maintained a healthy relationship with their correspondence; they found letter writing to be a useful complement to their main literary projects. Letters were not only a way to stay in touch with colleagues or test out ideas and themes on the page, but also a valuable method of easing into and out of a state of mind where they could pursue more daunting and in-depth writing." - Mason Currey

I'm guessing you aren't writing many letters nowadays. I had never thought of the role letter writing may have played in the past quite like this. I think I mostly assumed letter writing was simply a communication tool and not a method for warming up and shifting into other work. This made me think about my own work methodology and whether I have an equivalent of letter writing to "ease into and out of a state of mind where [I] can pursue more daunting and in-depth writing."

I've been journaling using Day One every morning for awhile now, shifting between stresm-of-consciousness and the recent Art of Manliness journaling prompts. That serves as a bit of a warm up but maybe there is something else I could be doing?

Do you have an equivalent of writing letters to ease you into the state of mind that allows you to do deeper and more daunting work?

Stephen King and Starting "Right"

Why Stephen King Spends 'Months and Even Years' Writing Opening Sentences

With a title like that you'd think that means Mr. King sits in front of a blank screen all day agonizing over the way to start his next book. Instead, that title should've said "Why Stephen King Spends 'Months and Even Years'Rewriting Opening Sentences." Somebody as prolific as Stephen King doesn't agonize over just the right way to start. He cranks out revision after revision until he has crafted that first sentence into something that perfectly encapsulates what he's trying to accomplish.

In addition to reminding me that just because something is "the beginning" doesn't mean you have to do it first, the linked article also made me think about how important it is to start things "right." 

The way I start my day impacts everything I do. That's why I get up early and try to work on something important right away.

The way I start my week impacts everything I do. That's why I try to make sure Mondays are highly productive and filled with meaningful work and save "administrative BS" for later in the week.

The way I start a major project impacts how I'll feel about the project for its entire duration. That's why I almost always start with a massive brainstorming and planning session where I can get all my ideas in front of me and I can create a framework for completing it.

The way I start my weekend impacts how well I'm able to rejuvenate. That's why I try to close as many "open loops" as I can on Friday afternoon.

Where could you benefit from thinking about the way you start a little more carefully?