I’ve spent a huge amount of time this year writing the next incarnation of the Webguide (not yet officially ‘approved’ or launched, and definitely unfinished). Pretty much the whole time it’s seemed as though the more I wrote the less I achieved.
It’s all taken a darned long time. For starters I wasn’t 100% well at the beginning of the year — nothing in particular was wrong with me, but I think I was run down and had some low-level infections.
I’d write and write, then realise I was on the wrong track and delete, delete. Then I’d try another approach and sit staring at a blank document on screen for quite a while before realising that approach also wouldn’t work. After a lot of time I had very few words to show for it.
After having some slow time and a bit of down time, spending thousands on overdue, and then urgent, dental work, and finishing up on some other ongoing work, I came right. But the Webguide was well behind where it should have been.
It’s a big project: I’m writing a website about how community groups can use the Internet and other ‘modern’ technology to achieve their goals. In fact, it’s an endless project as new tools, techniques and discoveries pop up every day. It’s spun off a blog too, Groupings, that covers similar ground, but in a blog fashion.
I guess some of the Webguide problem was that it just plain old took some research and ‘mulling time’ before the jigsaw puzzle pieces came together in the right pattern, so I could see how to structure the work. I chose a wiki and separated out Tools from Activities. With that out of the way I could finally start to really write. But it’s been slow going, and hence still unfinished.
It takes forever
Today I was particularly pleased to read Mary Jaksch’s latest post: What Makes us Creative? because of this one point in particular:
Put the hours in. Doing anything worthwhile takes forever.
The other day I was particularly aware of how slow things were, and why: I wrote a couple of sentences and then went on a fact check mission that took several hours.
The tension between create and edit
Mary’s whole post of course is worth a read, especially the information about left and right brain activities, and about the problems of trying to write, which involves both:
Creating and editing are processes that happen in different parts of the brain. Creativity springs forth from the right side of the brain, whereas editing or analysing happens in the left side.
… Most people stifle their creativity because they don’t know how to shut up their internal editor. You don’t know who that person is? Let me introduce you to him or her: Take a piece of paper and write the first paragraph of what might become a novel, or start sketching out a painting. Now listen to the voice in your head. You’ll hear something like this: “That’s stupid!” or “You really suck!” or “You’re wasting your time!”
That internal critic is a killer. I know it slows down most of my work.
Mop and duster
Mind you, the critic is needed, in small doses. If it weren’t for that critic this post would emerge into the world with half a dozen typos, with paragraphs in a different (and less effective) sequence, repetitive and redundant words and phrases — all the splashes of sloppy creativity. Thank goodness for the editor with her mop and duster.