4 Strategies to Produce Deep, Meaningful Work
Anthony Moore

These are all great ways to get work done. I’ve done all of these at one time or another, with success.

But there is one thing you neglect. EVERY SINGLE one of these, except perhaps #4, relies on a unseen work force to keep the creator (in this case a writer, but whatever) moving.

You don’t really acknowledge this except to say the first guy, without any email, “has an assistant” that literally does ALL the work he would normally have to do as a researcher in the world. I’m sure he’s got someone who cooks his meals and cleans his house, too. The other people, like Angelou, have the resources to stay at a hotel for weeks at a time.

So, now I’m going to add the inevitable: mostly, these constructs are incredibly sexist. A majority of the “household” work (cleaning, cooking, keeping up with appointments, etc.) is still done by women. Even when it is a woman creative who wants to implement one of these strategies, unless she has the money to outsource the work (hire an assistant, stay at a hotel or lodge or in a cabin in the woods or whatever), there will be NO ONE to do the work that keeps the world turning.

As a woman, I’ve seen this in action. My partner is very supportive of me and my writing. Guess who does the shopping and preparing of food? Guess who keeps appointments? And he’s good — he does the dishes (mostly), he takes out trash, he scoops litter boxes and feeds the cats, he’ll pick up stuff at the store if I need it, but still, I cannot 100% get time to myself.

What would a single, working mom do?

In grad school, I could do more of these — though I never achieved monastic status. I had nothing to do but teach and write, and I could lock myself away for whole days at a time. I still had to cook and clean, but it was a small space, only my space, so it didn’t matter if I did or not. No one cared if I lived off microwaved quesadillas and boxed pasta. Honestly, I miss those days a lot.

So this conclusion?:

“Every individual can create time to spend in deep-work behaviors that create meaningful, highly-potent content and ideas that can shape and transform a career.”

No. Every individual cannot do this. Only people with support systems can do this. And that’s a very narrow class and sex of people most of the time. (Race factors in, too, but I can’t speak to it from my own experience).

The reason I say this is not to criticize these structures, or dismiss the idea of creative time. I say this because people who want to write, but who struggle to find the space in their lives, might read this and ultimately conclude that they can’t be an artist. That they won’t do “deep” work because they don’t have a lifestyle that lets them do so. I’ve seen it happen. It’s sad. It’s also not new (esp. the women’s side) — take a look back at Virginia Woolf’s “room of one’s own” (of course — I’m sure you’ve come across it). It’s like the “write every day” mantra. Sure, if you can. But some people can’t — they don’t have a life that lets them. (For example, 2 days a week, I’m at work 8am-8pm. Even with breaks in there, expecting I could write every day is unrealistic). I’ve known too many people that think that b/c they don’t write every day they are “failing” at writing.

People who say “you can always find a little time every day” are people who have “a little time” available to find.

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