Skipping one day makes it easier to skip the next day…

From Warren Ellis, Finding the System that Works for You; in part:

I’m aiming for an unbroken two-month stint on MORNING COMPUTER. I have a hand-drawn grid for it on the wall, above the whiteboard, that takes me up to October 2, and I intend to put crosses in every box on that grid. (The Seinfeld Chain.)

The key pull-quote from that is not “don’t break the chain.” but “skipping one day makes it easier to skip the next day.”

I know what works for me in terms of productivity. Like “don’t for fuck’s sake put Netflix on the big screen.”  I will produce a lot less every day if I let a tv show run on Netflix. Sometimes it works as background noise, but often it draws my eye too much – video claims too much attention. What works better is throwing up a nature documentary or an art film, something slow, and mute the window, and then put music on.

This conversation-while-fishing between authors Thomas McGuane and Callan Wink covers some of the same ground. For example:

McGuane: I’m just thinking about writing.

Wink: Are you on the everyday program right now?

McGuane: Not really, uh, pretty good.

Wink: Yah, I feel like when I have a good stint of doing it a lot then it all just becomes easier, you know?

McGuane: That’s absolutely right.

Wink: Taking a month off, like I basically do, for guiding – even a couple of months – then it’s just a tortuous process to get back anything in shape for writing.

McGuane: That is the best reason for having regular work hours, is to not beat yourself up when you try to start up again.

And then the fish start to bite, and off they go. Their conversation on this and other topics is fascinating, in part because they are both masters of a craft (writing for McGuane, guiding for Wink) who can appreciate (and, indeed, practice) the craft of the other.

In my experience these are some of the best relationships to forge, and I’ve been lucky over my life to have been able to teleport my digital skills into conversations with smart, experienced people in all manner of other domains: because we each end up being a tiny bit in awe of the others’ seemingly magical abilities, we remain humble and that’s a good place to start a relationship.

I’ve now written more blog posts in the space year-to-date than I’ve written in an entire year since 2009. Mostly that’s because I decided that this was going to be the place I focused my pith, rather than scattering it among the social media fields.

I’ve never enjoyed writing more, and my experience mirrors Wink’s: when I have “a good stint of doing it” it does, indeed, “just become easier.”


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