These last few weeks, I’ve been slowly unpacking the new things I’m learning from Writer Faster-Better. We’re just hitting the section on the writing itself. Not craft, but how the personality types need to do different things to write.
One of the things that came out of the class is how some of my strengths got push back at some point and I backed off them. Other strengths tried to compensate and overbalanced (Adaptability and Achiever).
The first one Input (#3 for me). With this strength, I’m a collector of information and am, combined with Intellection (#1) good at details. But I always thought I was poor at details.
But a common issue for Input is that we like information and can provide too much to someone who doesn’t care. It seems likely that at some point I did that and was told not to do it.
Another contributing issue is school. First up, I know there are good teachers out there. Unfortunately, I had very few of those. Most fixated on test scores. To get test scores, they created the Scantron tests. You got a choice of four items to choose which one was right. Often the questions weren’t for interesting facts but ones that bored me. Who cares if the S.S. Valencia was wrecked on January 22, 1906? Does the exact date matter?
Worse, though, I could never guess what the teachers were going to test on, so I always did poorly.
School tests also created havoc for my #1 Intellection. They don’t encourage people who need to think for a bit about the questions. And everything these days is rush, rush, make a decision now or it’s going to go away. Probably one of the worst decisions I made was enlisting in the National Guard instead of doing my time with the ready reserve. I was pressured by the NCO that the “deal” (I would get $17,000 for doing it) would go away. Adaptability jumped in and said, “Sure,” and made the wrong decision.
So I’m thinking about changes to how I do things when I write.
I’ve struggled with notes, partially because most of the discussion on notes is on organizing them in such a way as to make connections and generate ideas.
- Zettelkasten, which was a system the creator understood but was too complex in a lot of wrong ways. Index cards would have driven me mad, as did that numbering system (and I did try it). People have said things like “If the notes are good, the article writes itself.” (Well, no. the writer does that).
- PARA. This looked promising but didn’t fit me at all. Though Tiago Forte wants to be the guru for all note-taking, it’s more of a one-shot pony. The audience is entrepreneurs and seems to have more to do with work (the day job) than pure collecting and creativity. The idea part is particularly for entrepreneurs’ work, not for someone like me. They pay me to do tasks, not come up with ideas.
And all discussions of note-taking seem to be offshoots of taking them for school.
I’m collecting random facts in a notebook—a Mead Composition Book, hard-back (Target seems to be the only one selling them). Doesn’t make me feel like I’m in school like the other ones, and big enough for me to play around in.
Punch List (or whatever I decide to call it)
Another new thing I’m starting, also in a notebook in a punch list. I’m using a Decomposition Book from Target, mainly because it had a cheetah on the cover (Erahas, my half-man/half-cheetah god). In project management, it’s a list of minor tasks that need to be completed by the end of the project.
For me, let’s suppose I’m writing along. I realize that I need to add some additional setting detail in Chapter 1 to make Chapter 4 work.
In typical Writing in the Dark fashion, you would hop back, add the detail, then resume writing. Dean says it’s not a good idea to put a placeholder in because that detail might inspire your creative side.
The WITD practice: Hop over to a different computer (and I do have two), do the research, and hop back to continue writing.
I get that this works for Dean. It’s his process.
For me? It’s an interruption. I’ve always wanted to do placeholders for small details and circle back around later. Batch do the quick look-ups instead of interrupting myself (and this may be a key difference: I get interrupted all day by other people in my day job. Why would I want to interrupt myself?).
Okay, yeah, I’m questioning everything.
If I followed the WITD standard, I would have interrupted myself for two things I ended up deciding not to use. I just needed to think about them first to see if I wanted to use them (which I didn’t realize until I did it).
Key in my punch list is that they get done quickly, like after I finish what I’m writing or the next day.
So the class is upending some things that I was doing that didn’t fit me. We’ll see what else we uncover….