At the beginning of every session of A Meeting With Your Writing I used to ask participants to make a list of all the writing/research projects that they consider active. I then asked them which one of those they most want to work on during the next 90 minutes.
- It might be the one that would be most fun.
- It might be the one that is so close to finished that this 90 minutes might do it.
- It might be the one that would benefit most from a defined beginning and end and the extra pressure to stay in your chair.
I encouraged everyone to work on the one that is putting up it’s hand and saying “Pick me!! Pick me!!”
I changed up my approach a bit in 2018, but there is still something really valuable about that way of doing things.
This approach feels uncomfortable at first. In our culture there is a very strong narrative that “work” is the stuff you don’t want to do but have to be “adult” about and just do it. That if you aren’t somehow forcing yourself to overcome resistance, it’s not really work. The corollary of this belief is that the thing you want to do is probably not the most important thing. Doing it is a sign that you are lazy or undisciplined or something.
This story also shows up the first time people hear the advice to work on what you want to do. The idea that the project you might most want to work on during the 90 minutes of A Meeting With Your Writing might be something really tedious that you’ve been putting off is almost unthinkable. And yet, once you’ve been coming for a while, that is sometimes the project that has it’s hand up and is practically jumping out of it’s seat.
I strongly believe that if you are doing work that you love, you will want to do the tedious parts. You will want to do the difficult frustrating parts, too. You won’t love doing those tedious or frustrating parts. But you will want to do them because you know they are essential and you love the results.
Having a structure to support all of the work helps.
How to be prolific: Guidelines for getting it done from Joss Whedon (you would be in good company)
Optimizing Focus: Select the task you most want to work on in which I return to this topic.
Edited May 19, 2017 and again 9 November 2018 to align the text with my current practice during A Meeting With Your Writing and to add related posts.