Day 10

Going back and organizing old writing

Last year I put all my writing into one big Scrivener file. It had every article I’ve written, every letter I’ve sent to my email list, and about a dozen unpublished outlines.

It was my life’s work. Or so I thought.

As the month’s passed, this file began to eat away at me. With so much of myself poured into it, it was constantly in the back of my mind.

What should I do with all my writing?

Should I turn it into a book? A course? Something else?

How do I decide?

And what’s the best way to edit it all anyway?

It seemed like there was a million possibilities in that file just waiting for me to extract them.

But I couldn’t.

For some reason, opening that Scrivener file overwhelmed me. I’d flip from article to article, reading one here, editing another there. No matter how much I tried, I never made progress on it. I’d open it for a few minutes and find myself on Twitter shortly after.

But yesterday something happened.

I opened the file and started reviewing it. I read some of my articles like I’ve done in the past. Then I came across a couple I didn’t recognize.

“They’re pretty good,” I thought to myself, “I wonder how I can use them.”

That’s when it hit me. These weren’t my articles. They were articles I had copied from some website to reference later.

Suddenly, everything changed.

These articles were no longer pretty good. My perceived quality level of them instantly dropped from the most valuable asset I had to random blog article I didn’t have time to read.

Not only did I no longer care about publishing or editing them, I threw them in the trash.

And that’s when it hit me.

I’ve been holding on to this huge file with tons of articles, simply because of my ego. All this value I thought I had, vanished instantly when I thought someone else wrote it.

It was crazy.

I’ve been over-valuing my writing, simply because I wrote it.

It wasn’t the quality level I appreciated, it was my by-line.

This psychological phenomena is common. The things we give our attention are the things our brains tell us are important.

Before discovering I wasn’t the author of these articles, I couldn’t bring myself to prune them. They seemed useful. They seemed valuable. I could incorporate them into a perfectly organized compendium some day.

Plus, they were my hard work. My time spent.

But once I realized they weren’t mine, I immediately re-assessed the value of them, much more realistically.

It was such a stark contrast that I decided to go through the rest of the file with this lense on.

I looked at every article not as an author but as a reader. I pictured the article on a random blog and told myself that it was written by someone else.

Suddenly it became clear that 90% of my articles were in fact, trash.

I hardly wanted to read any.

And when there was a rare article that was interesting, it stood out more than ever before.

Finally, I could let go of this heavy chest of content I had been lugging around for the past year.

All by visualizing them with someone else’s name attached.

Suddenly my precious writing didn’t feel so precious. Finally I could make progress.

If you have content or other stuff that you’re hanging onto because you might use it in the future, assign it to someone else and see if it’s really worth taking up the space in your head.

Switching from Freckle to RescueTime

As I continue on my 6 week challenge, I’m going to switch from tracking my time with Freckle to RescueTime. The difference is RescueTime works in the background by monitoring your activity.

Freckle on the other hand takes tracking your time consiously. I’ve never used RescueTime but I think this difference in approach might be more accurate.

I’ll keep using both for a bit until I feel comfortable switching fully.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here’s a look at how I spent today and yesterday. I want to thank you very much for following a long. Have a great rest of your weekend.