Focusing On The Process

I’ve taken a conscious effort to write everyday. It feels instinctually right to do this. It feels as if every fiber of my body is willing me towards this process of writing, day in and day out. The need to write isn’t an over night epiphany but a buildup of a nagging feeling over the past couple of years.

I believe in a persons ability to create serendipity. With a willingness to be open and share your thoughts in a highly visible and intentional way, you can generate a large amount of luck for yourself. It feels like building a public treasure trove of ideas that someone can eventually stumble upon. The more I add to the trove the more likely someone will find it.

So I’ve given in to my compulsion to write. It’s been a challenging and rewarding experience thus far. The amazing part of the first few pieces of content was the realization of how much of a barrier I am to my own self. My perfectionism can stand in the way of simply putting words on a page let alone publishing them.

I had made the early discovery that writing is a process and that this process needs to start with putting thoughts on a page without editing them first. My first attempts were often crippled by writers block. I was trying to write the perfect essay in the first attempt and the consequence was stifling my own creativity.

Lesson: write down my thoughts first, then edit.

Then I realized that life is distracting. My process is so chaotic and full of interruptions that its hard to get into a flow state. So I adapted my technique to create structured time for writing. During this time, my focus is on writing for the entire block of time without looking at my phone or surfing the web, research included. Focusing on getting my thoughts on the page and establishing a flow state for the duration of the time. Before long, I found that I could put 1,000 words on a page in a half hour and these words functioned as a pretty good backbone for a publishable essay.

Lesson: Block time with no distractions to establish a flow state.

As I progressed through my process of regular writing I began to notice some changes to my mindset. It was therapeutic in a way to put thoughts on a paper. The act of writing with the intent of publishing publicly forced me to structure and distill my thoughts in a meaningful way. Thinking beyond writing about the topic but also thinking about why anyone should care. In doing so, I found that once my thoughts were on paper they weren’t bouncing around in my mind as much. I became less distracted by all the idle ideas I had.

This realization led me to write more content, private content as a way to clear my mind. Like the pencieve concept from Harry Potter, I’ve come to realize that the mind gets crowded and structuring the thoughts that float around and putting them on paper is a nice way of freeing up cognitive space.

Lesson: Writing is a good way to clear the cognitive junk out of your head. Like closing out 30 tabs in your browser, your mind computer’s performance will increase.

I continued to write. Focusing on getting content into a first draft and doing a single edit before publishing. My goal is not to be perfect but to learn through iteration. I’ve learned that if the more time I give myself for a topic, like perfection, the more likely I am to use it.

Lesson: Perfection takes time and prevents speed. Loss of speed leads to less iteration.

The limited journey into writing I’ve taken thus far has been fascinating. I’ve learned that by focusing more on the process I am able to achieve more output which becomes more refined as I iterate on my process.

Lesson: Iteration leads to process improvement. Process improvement leads to perfection.

So I made a personal commitment to write a set amount per week in order to step up the intensity, increase serendipitous opportunity and increase the iterative cycle. With my mind on the process I realized that the increased intensity highlighted a glaring problem. My process doesn’t scale well.

I’ve been shooting from the hip when creating topics and conducting research. Writing about what I read and the things that spawn in my mind has been rewarding but doesn’t meet the publishing demand I’ve set for myself. So, I had to rethink how my approach to writing would change to meet this increased demand.

I developed a process for writing down ideas as they come to me throughout the day. A process for conducting research and documenting which ideas will be written on a given day. A process that I realized had developed into a content calendar.

Lesson: Not all processes scale well. That’s ok as long as long as you are willing to let them go for the next best thing.

As it stands, I am thrilled with my progress. The writing has been both enjoyable and scalable. With a mind for the process and a continued commitment to putting out public work, my progress on building a serendipity engine is well under way.

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