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There is probably at least one area in life where you would consider yourself an expert.
For example, hopefully, you see yourself as an expert in some aspect of your chosen career field. Maybe you’re really good at computer programming or project management or driving a truck.
Or maybe it’s writing.
Whatever it is that you’re an expert at, are you the absolute best in the world at that activity? And if you are the best in the world, could you be even better?
I have no idea whether you’re the G.O.A.T. — Greatest Of All Time — in any given field, but I can answer that second question for you: YES, you can be better than you are now.
Everything you do in life can be optimized beyond what you’re doing now. Although it doesn’t make sense to try and squeeze every last drop out of every activity (see Pareto), it does make sense to hone in on those areas that are most important to you.
Like your writing.
Tweak Techniques to Fit You
If you’ve read all the posts in this series, I thank you, but I also invite you to not consider these techniques and ideas to be one-and-done propositions. Applying any of them will gain you some degree of enhanced writing productivity, but you shouldn’t stop there.
Pick the ones that resonate with you and give them a whirl. If they pay you dividends in terms of an increased word count or better prose, keep them in your writer’s tool chest. If they don’t, consider jettisoning them.
But you might want to have a closer look before you cut ties with a method forever, just to make sure that a slight tweak wouldn’t make it work for you.
For instance, I talk a lot about breaking your writing tasks down into nuggets that you can knock off in one sitting or one day. That will work well for most people, but maybe you know from experience that you write best when you drag a long chapter out over the course of a week or more. Maybe you need the time in between for your thoughts and prose to gel, and shorter atomic units just feel choppy to you.
In that case, setting daily goals might not be the best approach, but setting weekly goals could get you humming along.
Optimize to Make the Best Better
And if you find a technique that does work well for you, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t work even better with a few adjustments.
Maybe you undertake a 30-day challenge to write for an hour every morning before you go to work. To begin with, you set your alarm 30 minutes earlier than normal and write during that extra time PLUS while you drink your morning coffee, time previously reserved for surfing the net. The experiment goes splendidly well, and you find that, by the end of the month, you’re getting up early on your own, and you hardly ever need an alarm clock.
You decide that, when a challenge really motivates you toward the achievement of your goals, you’re able to adopt a new habit pretty quickly. You look at your list of other things you want to start doing and zero in on two biggies for the next month: exercising every day and giving up sodas.
The first week is a struggle, but you push through, and by the end of the month, you’re a writing, exercising, soda-free fool!
Maybe the third month, you try three challenges at once, or maybe you cut the challenge time down to 15 days rather than 30. You keep pushing until you run out of improvements you want to make, or until your returns diminish. At that point, you’ve found your sweet spot and optimized the 30-day challenge technique for you.
The point is, you can almost always get better in almost every area of life.
And don’t be satisfied with better when you can make better even better.
Measure Your Results
In order to make this work and keep it from bogging you down, you need to be ruthless in your evaluation and follow-up actions. If you find an optimization that nets you a 25% increase in words written per hour, exploit it to the fullest. On the other hand, if you’re spending a lot of mental energy to squeeze out one or two percent increases, it might not be worth the effort.
Move on to the next technique.
Whatever you do, don’t ever stop trying to improve.
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