Day Off, Week 2 — “28 to Make”

28 to make is a creativity challenge from CreativeLive. Participants create and share a quick sketch every day for 28 days. I’m doing the same but with words.

Each day in February, I’ll set a timer for 20 minutes and write a “sketch” inspired by the prompt for the day.

Day 14: Take a day off and reflect.

Commiting to a project like this is bound to teach you a few things about how you work. Here’s what I’ve learned this week.

I Have Time

I decided to take on this challenge at a time when I’m also wrapping up a book-length ghostwriting project, taking 2 road trips of over 1,200 miles each, traveling overseas, and taking on some new freelancing work.

The thing is, I always have twenty minutes to write one of these posts. Not only is time not an excuse, but the tight time constraint of this project is what makes it possible. There’s no way I would have time to write any old blog post every day this month, but I can set a timer and write for 20 minutes every day.

If Writing Feels Hard, Maybe Life Isn’t Hard Enough

Earlier this week, I spent over two hours at the Apple store getting my phone replaced after the backglass shattered the first time I dropped it. After that little ordeal, sitting down to write one of these felt like total freedom.

If writing is the hardest part of your day, you need a harder day.

I love what Anthony Bourdain said about this:

“Writing is a privilege and a luxury. Anybody who whines about writer's block should be forced to clean squid all day.”

Shut the F*ck Up About How Busy You Are

I’ve been noticing that every time I have to flake or stay home because “I’ve got this crazy deadline” or “things are super busy right now” it’s never a matter of how many hours work is taking up and always a time-management problem that’s entirely of my own making.

That deadline is “crazy” because I’ve been putting it off like crazy. Things are “super busy right now” because I decided to put off work I could have done earlier when things weren’t so busy.

You can read more about how busy-ness is manufactured at the level of organizations in It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried and DHH. It’s full of examples of hyper-prolific authors, from Charles Darwin to Haruki Murakami, who work short hours and get plenty of sleep.