I had a few (too many?) drinks last night with Elliott and Andy. We talked about a lot of things, many of which aren’t worth mentioning without hearing the whole conversation because they won’t make sense out of context. One thing came up a couple of times, though; it’s something I’ve thought about before in detail, and it was great to talk through it with other people:
How do you go about producing creative works (like writing) when you know some will be better than others? I still consider my writing from last fall about stress and memory to be one of the best, most important things I’ve ever written (yes, this is vain, but this is my blog, so I’m allowed to be). The morning after you show something to the world that you’re so proud of, how do you find the energy to start on something new? (It’s a hard question to answer, and I haven’t come up with an argument that’s compelling or convincing to anyone but myself.)
My current thought is this: I certainly won’t become a better writer by sitting around, waiting for the next perfect thing to appear. Writing, like coding and other creative endeavours, can be reasonably approximated by an iterative process, a creation and culling effort (I come back to Danc’s post about visualizing the creative process every few weeks because it’s such an interesting idea) that will let the good stuff bubble up over time while stripping out the bad, weird, and the non sequitur.
So as best I can tell, it goes something like: “You are what you practice. So what are you practicing?” (Merlin was making the same point a few days ago.)
Long story short: Andy and I threw down our respective gloves after throwing back the third glass of whiskey, and came up with this: every Tuesday, we’ll spend 20 minutes of our respective shuttle rides to work writing something. It doesn’t matter what, but when those 20 minutes are up, you publish it.
You’ll find my writing here, and his over at Square Signals.
(Oh, and Andy: that took me fifteen minutes.)