I had a big slump in my writing group.
For a year. I’d put pen to paper in a beautiful journal and out would pour — drivel.
Sometimes I’d write to get all the minutae out of my head. Other times I’d write a list. But the end “result” was nothing of consequence.
I mentioned the writing process we go through in Wild Writing to Sherry Richert Belul and Alison Luterman the other night as we crunched skinny french fries and sipped bubbly water at the Zuni Cafe in San Francisco with before her poetry reading at Martuni’s.
Alison said that as she was writing she was always looking to have a finished product – be it a play, a poem or a story. So to write without a “goal” wasn’t easy.
I’m was the Alison camp. Until I wasn’t. I’m not sure what happened exactly, other than I let go a little and just allowed the drivel to flow. And there was plenty of it.
And then something shifted. In my business writing too. I’m writing up a storm and creating new videos and products and stuff at such a speed I wish that there were more hours in the day!
Like this video about how to be kinder to yourself after a media appearance (or any new venture for that matter).
I’m not yet in the place where I can love my drivel.
Then today I read this in Sunil Bali’s ezine which put me on the path (another shift!)…
One half of the class would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, and the other half would be graded solely on the quality of their work.
On the final day of class the teacher would bring his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the quantity group: fifty pounds in weight of pots rated a Grade “A”, forty pounds a Grade “B”, and so on.
Those being graded on quality, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get a Grade “A”.
Come grading time a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the quantity group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the quality group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a not very good pot.
Whether its business, art or sport, it’s not the quest to achieve one perfect goal that makes you better, it’s the skills you develop from doing a volume of work.
Focus on the repetitions that lead to your desired outcome. Focus on the iterations that come before the success. Focus on the hundreds of ceramic pots that come before the masterpiece.
In other words: Try. Fail. Learn, Repeat.
Don’t be afraid of making a load of rubbish. Be afraid of making nothing at all.”