Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Hump

The hump is a terrible problem I face every day. In order to be productive, in order to write well or to make real forward progress, I have to work long enough to get over the hump. This usually takes me about an hour. After that, I’m into it. My mind is churning away and some wonderful stuff comes out...but that first hour is pretty much wasted.

This kills me when the only available time is less than an hour. It very hard for me to generate anything worth keeping in these short sessions. Sometimes I can do it. Sometimes I can crank out 500 beautiful, clean, in character, in voice words in 15 minutes. But not usually. More often the first fifteen minutes is figuring out where I was. The next half an hour is the mental and emotional struggle to get over the hump. In the last fifteen minutes I usually see the first copy worth keeping start to flow.

My solution is to shoot for 2-hour blocks (or longer), or to psyche myself up and focus on one thing before sitting down. With the right focus, the sprints usually work, however I am most productive when I can work without interruption for 5-6 hours. Past about 6 hours I run out of steam. If I am interrupted for more than a couple minutes, my mind will slip out of gear and find myself back at the bottom of that hill, having to climb up over the hump again.

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