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5 Process Lessons From July
A month of experimenting for consistency gets results.
The Reader Experience aims to save you time by leveraging design expertise and AI tools to write better fiction faster.
As a creative person I struggle with one thing more than others.
Keeping things simple.
I have a million ideas a minute and it often takes days before I can distance myself enough to see the difference between stinker and a star.
Boy, should I know better though.
Dieter Rams, is famous for saying “Less is more.” And that the best design is the simplest design, and a design is done when you cannot take anything more away.
He’s the guy Johnny Ives copied for the innovative Classic iPod design. Here’s his design at Braun in late 1950s. Good artists steal all the time.
Lesson 1: Knowing is not doing
As a designer, I know that we cut when a design is too complicated.
When a process is messy, we look at what can be removed.
When a day is too long, or we’re always late. Cut something out. (Like TV).
But then again knowing is not doing, something I say to my daughter when she rolls her eyes and says “I know, Dad!” when I ask her to do her chores.
She’s six —I’m in for trouble.
Lesson 2: Focus and prioritisation
You need to focus on what matters.
You need to prioritise what matters.
You need to do both and cut the rest
You see, I realised this morning, as I woke up to no electricity (my country’s not so good at power plants), so no coffee to save me from 5 hours of sleep.
Because both my daughters had a bad sleep night. And I read too much so I went to bed too late after watching too much TV.
So I snoozed my writing alarm. I hadn’t written and now we were running late for school. And I couldn’t make coffee fast enough.
Now we see the knock on.
Lesson 3: Output Requires Prep
The only thing (at the moment) holding back my novel being finished is how consistent I am at writing in this morning window.
Put an hour in and I get a 1000 words out.
Or on an editing week, put an hour in and I get and edited chapter out.
Those hours add up. Like a good tortoise plodding uphill.
But, what matters before those hours. Before I hit that 1000 word target or finally get a decent score on my review checklist is how consistently I prepped beforehand.
Consistency doesn’t come from the ether. It’s baked into your life at every point in your “make writing happen” system.asked about consistency in a recent comment (on Choose Your Next Adventure) and so far, I’m seeing that it needs to be everywhere to show up in our work. To show up in our release schedule or for us to be seen as consistent creators.
Lesson 4: Consistency Must Be Baked In
Consistency, the magic word of a thousand different Twitter savants, I found, it only possible when I’m consistent in 100 little details that have nothing to do with the words on the page.
For me it’s the following this pedantically detailed process:
I open my laptop and it’s locked out on the correct draft.
I put on headphones waiting on the arm rest to listen to the same music.
I sat in the same spot on the couch, pillows prepped last night for my fussy back and a blanket because the mornings are chilly.
I have an hour to myself because I could find everything in the dark without waking my wife. Or anyone else. If I wake any of my girls I risk losing my hour. So I steal through the house like a cat burglar
I’m wearing my gown and slippers because I laid them out.
I woke at 5:30 AM after 7+ hours sleep because I went to sleep early.
I got eight hours sleep because I only read for only 30 mins.
I didn’t read late because we turned off the TV at 9 PM.
It’s actually a domino effect. I need to work from 8 to 1 for writing to happen.
Only if I do all of those things, do I actually write 1000 words every morning.
Consistency needs to be everywhere for it to come out in our writing.
And this consistency has helped me double my monthly chapters so far.
Lesson 5: Consistent Quality Builds Audiences
I fell into a typical trap of new creators. We fixate on the metrics, the likes, the comments and the shares. Rather than the quality of the product.
I’m bringing it back to the basics.
Can I write a decent article that helps my audience save time and write a little faster and grow their business a little more?
Until I can do that consistently nothing else matters.
Until I can write a solid chapter nothing else matters.
So in August, I’m working on a review and outlining loop to ensure it.
Novel Progress Update
This is how my writing is going in one pretty picture.
Syndicated is what I’m calling re-posting on free platforms one month after it’s been to paying subscribers or patrons. It makes sense with my TV brain.
I also wrote that one chapter out of order because I felt like it, the Discovery creative energy was high. But, maybe I shouldn’t have because it scored 2/21!
I’ll be ecstatic if that grid is all green by the end of August. And doubly so if I make the time to start syndicating my chapters on Substack & Medium.
Consistency in output comes from consistency throughout your system.
Better quality for me is on the horizon as I’m becoming more consistent at each stage. More consistent at writing time, daily targets, using outlines and batch reviewing my work using the same checklist.
Consistent negative feedback means I can hone in on those issues and improve week after week. No empire yet, but industry is certainly developing.
And once I’ve conquered novel territory, I can invade audiobooks.
One thing at a time. 🐢
I’m actually feeling quite hopeful about all this. 😊
For the experimental creatives you know.