I have been thinking a lot recently about process and method.
I look at a lot of people, writers, musicians, painters and such, that create art that I really like and one of the first things I am always curious about is their process.
I recently read a book called Alligator Zoo – Park Magic by a guy named C.H. Hooks, which I highly recommend.
But since the book was published pretty recently he’s been a guest on some podcasts I listen to and in one of them he briefly discussed his process.
He talked about how he has to write in short, or relatively short, bursts, to maintain the voice and tone of the story.
He also talked about how his writing is very seasonal, which I found particularly interesting.
I may be getting this reversed, but I think he said he writes fiction in the fall and story – boards and plans and writes non – fiction in the spring.
He compared it to a seasonal affective disorder.
The last thing that he discussed with the host of the show was the need for clutter, for things to be around his confined creative space, like an organized chaos.
I used to work for a guy named Darrick who lived his life in complete disorganization and chaos, but it was his method. It was in that environment that he thrived.
Darrick, who was my first serious soccer coach when I was a kid and is now a good friend of mine, runs a soccer club, a very large soccer league and owns several real estate properties all over Knoxville, where I am from.
After I graduated college, he was really my first real world mentor, as in showing me how terrible the real world, the one with bills and car trouble and jobs and problems, is.
And working for him was a massive learning experience, as he was disorganized, hard to get a hold of, didn’t pay very much, put way more responsibility on me than I probably should have had.
But whenever Darrick would make me do something I didn’t understand the value of and I’d question or rebel, he’d just hold up his finger and say, “There’s a method.”
That was one of the many sayings Darrick had for me, along with “quit playin’” and “vaminos.”
At the time, I couldn’t see the method. I was not familiar in any way with said method. And that was, at times, infuriating.
But things always worked out in his favor. Which was also infuriating, knowing I had doubted.
How did he know that by doing this weird thing, this was going to happen?
Or that by rescheduling this team to accommodate for this other team that is known to complain more, even though the match up for the rescheduled team doesn’t make any sense, both teams will be happy and continue to choose our league?
It’s because he has been making those decisions, thinking critically about the outcomes of those decisions for so long that it has become second nature.
That’s his methodology.
Several famous writers, I’ll use Kurt Vonnegut as my example, have detailed what their days look like.
In a letter Vonnegut wrote to his wife, he wrote, “I awake at 5:30, work until 8:00, eat breakfast at home, work until 10:00, walk a few blocks into town, do errands, go to the nearby municipal swimming pool, which I have all to myself, and swim for half an hour, return home at 11:45, read the mail, eat lunch at noon. In the afternoon I do schoolwork, either teach or prepare. When I get home from school at about 5:30, I numb my twanging intellect with several belts of Scotch and water, cook supper, read and listen to jazz, slip off to sleep at ten.”
Maybe your method for being productive is as structured as this, maybe it’s like Darrick’s: fraught with last minute decisions, additions and adjustments.
The only way to find out is by doing and doing and doing, over and over. Keep working on what you want to work on and you’ll naturally carve out your method and find the environment you need to create.
Personally, I like the clutter (see Exhibit A – which is just my desk), but my girlfriend does not. So blame her if I can’t function.