Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Escaping the Bitch Grip of Experimentation

You know, I've had blogs before and I never had trouble writing posts for them.  Granted, these days it's higher-quality when back then it was more like Betamax, but at least I could get them done consistently.  Still...even then, I had a problem.  Since I like writing humor, I'm always trying to find way to blend jokes into my posts, preferably without being a perfectionist about it.  This got particularly bad lately as I wrote an article with seamless gags, and I thought it was a breakthrough.  Yeah, the one you get when you're five and you first look directly at the sun.

I take full responsibility for it.  If you've ever read Bird By Bird, Anne Lamont advocates the "shitty first draft", used often by Hemingway and later on the pieces of Hemingway.  I broke this rule while chasing my new style and caused myself a lot of indecisive fussiness.  And at the end of that experimentation, I didn't really gain any new insight.

They say "failure is feedback", true.  If you want to supercharge your work and improve your business, experimentation is essential.  And in its own way, learning new concepts and piecing them together to make a Frankenstein of an idea is pretty rad.  But there's going to be a lot of dead ends when you experiment.  Sometimes your Frankenstein will flip out or he'll be afraid of fire or the bolts in his neck intimidate most of the stock at Lowe's.  How can you avoid the emotional crash-and-burn that can result?

How To Win Your Thumb War

Another thing you hear a lot is to find passion in your work.  And if you're going to experiment, you might as well jazz around with it and not fret about reaching the end goal, though I admit that would make football a weird game of keep-away where all the bullies earn salaries.  But you know what has a lesser chance of bombing?  Cutting down resistance.  If you can do that, you don't have to be wildly in love with your mad science - you can maintain brimming enthusiasm while keeping the work as painless as possible.

I've got a huge two ways you can do this!  To stay productive I like to use Mark Forster's Autofocus system.  Click the link for the full rules, but it's easy to harness - make one long list, consider each item in turn.  When you feel ready to do stuff on it, do it, then re-enter at the end when you're done.  Result = mucho pronto task handling, and it builds a momentum you can ride all day.  Even better - it works great with breaking down huge tasks.

But external trickery isn't all you need.  You gotta have the right mindset to work smooth.  For that, I shamelessly recommend Havi Brooks' Procrastination Dissolve-O-Matic...namely, the practice of "acknowledge, allow, act."  Because once you ACKNOWLEDGE you're being a royal fuss, you can ALLOW it to exist, calming down enough to take a tiny bit of next ACTION, even if it's practicing your ACKNOWLEDGEMENT.  See how my capitalized words match the mantra?  That's called CORRELATION.  But seriously, if you can buy the Dissolver, do it - a bit pricey but insanely useful since no one else ever addresses internal rationale for procrastionation.

Bottom line.  Experimentation is a tough, neccessary bitch goddess.  Part of that should be how to manage your emotional feedback so you can experiment more and take your work and business to new heights.  If you don't want to worry, you gotta learn how to be happy.  How do you ensure happiness for yourself while doing that all-important tinkering?

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