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13 Weeks of Wild Man Writing and Radical Reading

I'm starting my new self-improvement series early to increase both the quantity and quality of my writing.

by
Dave Swindle

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October 5, 2013 - 3:40 pm
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Check out the previous installments in the evolutions of my 2013 Self-Improvement Experiment:

December 31, 2012: 7 New Year’s Resolutions I Invite Others to Steal

February 2, 2013: The Plan So I Don’t Waste the Last Year of My 20s 

April 10: The 13 Weeks Radical Reading Regimen

May 8: Every American Needs to Read Books to Understand Islam 

July 6: We Must Read Tons of Books With a Clear Purpose

September 28: The 20 Books in My New To-Blog-About-and-Review Pile 

Well, the past few weeks I’ve fallen off the wagon with my 13 Weeks Radical Reading Regimen. I tried to blend my daily reading/blogging series with my book reviews and favorite author promotions. But my challenge as an editor has remained the same: it can be real rough to try and balance editing and writing. Each day will be different and new challenges will emerge that need attention. So the focused time to try and integrate a serious analysis of an author’s book with the news of the day often did not materialize.

But I think I’ve figured out a solution. To define and implement it I’m doing what I mentioned in last week’s preview of the new 13 Weeks Season – stopping the last experiment early and starting new to align with Rhonda, Sarah, and the turn of the seasons. For your own 13 Weeks experiment I recommend trying to start with the seasons and shift your goals according to each season’s opportunities. 13×4=52, BTW.

So for this new attempt to organize my book research, I’m emphasizing a few new components of the strategy. Most important: I’m going to schedule some writing time into the mix — so-called “wild man” writing time. This is when one tells the internal editors and proofreaders to take a coffee break while you focus on writing as much as possible, as quickly as possible, legibility and spelling be damned. Just get the raw, uncensored version of yourself out there and you can rein yourself in and edit when typing later.

One of the ideas that I’ve gradually come to accept and now will attempt to institutionalize is that reading, writing, editing, and publishing are four very different tasks. With the rise of New Media now all four have been squished together. Many writers and bloggers today have grown accustomed to creating media in a perpetual rush to keep up with the gushing news flow and the demands to maximize web traffic for hot stories. These four tasks have been blended together and in today’s tech world one must learn to shift from one incoming task to another every few minutes.

I’ve decided that in order to increase both the quality and quantity of my writing I have to divide up these four tasks so I can intensely focus on each. I’m influenced in this by both Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin and their adoption of the Pomodoro technique. They’ve found success in focusing on single tasks for 25 minutes at a time, then taking a 5-minute break, and then after 4 cycles taking a 20 minute break.

In pursuit of this method I base my 10 revised rules from the foundation Charle established with his original 4 13 Weeks Principles:

By accident, however, I’d noticed a process, or pattern.

  1. Decide there’s something you want to change.

  2. Find ways to measure your progress.

  3. Decide on some small unthreatening things you can do that should affect those measures.

  4. Track the results for 13 weeks and see what happens. It helps to pick appropriate tools and techniques for that tracking, but something as simple as a Seinfeld calendar, where you just draw an X on a calendar for every day you do something can be very powerful.

So for me, in revising my 10 rules (amended last in July here) I’ll keep in mind Charlie’s mold. My answers to the four points:

  1. I want to change both the quantity and quality of my reading research and daily writing.
  2. I will blog 5-7 days a week and rather than doing a round-up 5 days a week, I’m just going to do a daily reading journal of the day’s PJM content and other links around the web that jump out.
  3. I’m hoping that the Pomodoro approach will be the small change that can improve the results.
  4. In addition to my daily blogging about progress, I’m formalizing a practice I’ve experimented with for a few weeks now. The Wife recommended a new journal — this 600 page whopper. I’ve kept it open throughout the work day and tried to notate more how I spend my time. Some days are more detailed than others…1377587_10101463255780688_488261950_n

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