mad in pursuit notebook

DISPATCHED FROM THE CROSSROADS

Where Was I?

While I’ve been caught in the endless loop of revising Tribe of the Breakaway Beads, I’ve gotten out of the habit of churning out a chunk of writing every day. I think my “golden age” was back when my dad was alive (2004) and I knew I had to get something posted every morning before 10, so that my mom could print it out for him to read. I wrote a lot of rants about politics (now archived in a separate “Greed and Arrogance” blog) — what difference did that make, except to exercise my rage? The rest of it was not necessarily well-written, but formed the backbone for lots of future writing. I’m always digging back into my own archives of memories and observations for source material.

Now that the Breakaway Beads project is done except for the final technical stuff, I’m realizing how out of practice I am at writing fast, short entertainments.

So, I’m… procrastinating. No, no, I mean, getting organized. On the one hand, I don’t have an idea in my head!!! But on the other hand, I have an (obsolete) stack of 3×5 “idea cards” and paper notebooks stuffed with my daily morning “meditations” (mind maps, reading notes, and other outpourings of raw words).

Here’s where I start obsessing about personal workflow, which you have to be a complete nerd to care about. Or do you? If you have an employer, how to get the work done is largely dictated by the company’s business systems. But as more people are freelancers or independent contractors these days, you’re on your own in figuring out how to get things done. People who do creative work are especially on their own — and how many of us get lost in the jungle of our own processes?

Anyway, just as I was thinking of myself as the nerdiest loner ever, I (re)discovered Merlin Mann at 43 Folders, which led me to the Mac Power Users podcasts — a platoon of creative people obsessing over their personal workflows and how to make technology work for them. My people! Here’s what Merlin says:

I now know a lot about workflows. Nerdy, nerdy workflows.

I can tell you a few things that almost always work, I can tell you a handful of things that almost never work, and—best or worst of all—I can tell you thousands of things that might work. Sometimes. Maybe. Kinda. For some people. For now.

And, at the risk of gay-marrying my arrogance to my hypocrisy, I can tell you that I also know enough about the unholy diarrhea of potential options for Theoretical Productivity to share two big patterns:

(1) Getting your workflow right matters.

(2) Getting your workflow right to the exclusion of the actual work is a fool’s game.

But. Managing to get the most useful and most elegant and least fiddly mix of 1 and 2 right is super-hard. Especially for nerds. Especially for me.

So, I’m investigating apps, wikis and other aids to get the jumble of ideas from the womb into the incubator, on to the nursery, then… off to college.

And, look, I actually wrote something public this morning.

Nov 4, 2011