1. We are a community of readers. Join us!

    Readup is a social reading platform. No ads. No distractions. No liking or upvotes. We help you pay attention to what matters: reading.

    jsomers.net | James Somers | 5 min
    39 reads11 comments
    9.5
    jsomers.net
    39 reads
    9.5
    PadlockYou must read the article before you can post or reply.
    • deephdave
      Top reader this weekReading streakScout
      3 weeks ago

      Being fast is fun. If you’re a fast writer, you’ll constantly be playing with new ideas. You won’t be bogged down in a single dread effort. And because your to-do list gets worked off, you’ll always be thinking of more stuff to add to it. With more drafts in the works, more of the world will pop alive. You will feel flexible and capable and practiced so that when something demanding and long arrives on your desk, you won’t back down afraid.

      • dukie43 weeks ago

        I’ve noticed that if I respond to people’s emails quickly, they send me more emails. The sender learns to expect a response, and that expectation spurs them to write. That is, speed itself draws emails out of them, because the projected cost of the exchange in their mind is low.

        Can’t think of a better reason to work at a sensible pace and avoid frantic activity. American culture prizes speed (rate of movement in any direction) over velocity (rate of movement in the intended direction). And we can see the results all around us.

    • sjwoo3 weeks ago

      It's a muscle like anything else, though I have to say, as I get older, it is absolutely more difficult to get anything done faster. Now it's entirely possible that my brain and my body are indeed slowing down -- in fact, I'm sure they are both happening. But more than that, it's motivation -- I just don't have what I used to. That, more than anything, I believe is the reason why we slow down as we age.

    • jbuchana
      Scribe
      3 weeks ago

      Now, as a disclaimer, I should remind you of the rule that anyone writing a blog post advising against X is himself the worst Xer there is. At work, I have a history of painful languished projects, and I usually have the most overdue assignments of anyone on the team. As for writing, well, I have been working on this little blog post, on and off, no joke, for six years.

      It's the old saying, "The thatcher's roof always leaks."

      I'm pretty slow at writing and on my hobby projects, maybe I should look into speeding them up.

      • thorgalle
        Scout
        3 weeks ago

        This was also my chosen quote! I actually think it makes the article less powerful, but I could relate :) It also reminds me that writing can be form of reflection and practice of something you need to clear out for yourself.

        One thing I want to try is to focus on one hobby for certain periods of time ("sprints", weeks, months), then shift focus. Slow progress on many things at the same time feels stifling. Speed is nice and all, but how to get there? I guess focus helps.

        • bill
          Top reader this weekTop reader of all timeScoutScribe
          3 weeks ago

          From Solitude and Leadership:

          I used to have students who bragged to me about how fast they wrote their papers. I would tell them that the great German novelist Thomas Mann said that a writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. The best writers write much more slowly than everyone else, and the better they are, the slower they write. James Joyce wrote Ulysses, the greatest novel of the 20th century, at the rate of about a hundred words a day—half the length of the selection I read you earlier from Heart of Darkness—for seven years. T. S. Eliot, one of the greatest poets our country has ever produced, wrote about 150 pages of poetry over the course of his entire 25-year career. That’s half a page a month. So it is with any other form of thought. You do your best thinking by slowing down and concentrating.

          • je-clark3 weeks ago

            Like you said on the other thread, the concept of reducing cognitive load to make things inexpensive is really the goal. And there are multiple methods to accomplish that.

            One method, that the article argues, is speeding up the work. Another method, that your quote argues, and I think I identify with more, is to reduce the scope of the work. If I'm going to write, why not focus on writing a single, excellent sentence?

            I've been getting into woodworking lately, and through that, I've experimented with both methods. There are short projects to accomplish an immediate goal that I can pursue with speed (I built a firewood holder over the weekend, as an example). It doesn't really matter if each bit of joinery I make is perfect because I need somewhere to put all this firewood I have.

            At the same time, I'm working on the base for a table. It's going to be in my office, and I want it to be really nice. So of course, I don't want to rush through it. Instead, I'm satisfied when I can mark out a piece of joinery and get through half a tenon. It took me 2 evenings of work this week to complete about 8% of the joinery for the finished product.

    • bill
      Top reader this weekTop reader of all timeScoutScribe
      3 weeks ago

      This one's for all the Type-A people out there who are looking at a pile of work. Gogogogo!

      The general rule seems to be: systems which eat items quickly are fed more items. Slow systems starve.

      • BillEnkey3 weeks ago

        I liked this part, too! It's the outside world perspective of DevOps, essentially. When something is properly tested and processed, the entire end to end experience is automatic and relatively thoughtless; in other words, it becomes inexpensive. (Though, it does take a lot of thought and ingenuity to get to that point.) But, as I like to say, inexpensive isn't cheap; it just costs less to get as much or more.

        • bill
          Top reader this weekTop reader of all timeScoutScribe
          3 weeks ago

          Yup. Another connection: Ive been into minimalism for a few years. Same principles. At first, it’s easy to trim the fat (extra clothing, useless gadgets) but then it starts to really become work to make stuff disappear. Even the simple life isn’t simple, though it appears “automatic and relatively thoughtless.”

          I love this concept of reducing cognitive load to make things “inexpensive.”

    • guischmitt3 weeks ago

      The prescription must be that if there’s something you want to do a lot of and get good at—like write, or fix bugs—you should try to do it faster.

      That doesn’t mean be sloppy. But it does mean, push yourself to go faster than you think is healthy. That’s because the task will come to cost less in your mind; it’ll have a lower activation energy. So you’ll do it more. And as you do it more (as long as you’re doing it deliberately), you’ll get better. Eventually you’ll be both fast and good.