Habit. If you want to be a writer, you first have to write. You can sit down and free write. You can write first and edit later (or "write drunk, edit sober" as the saying goes). You can use a timer and write for 50 minutes every morning or you can plan to write 500 words before going to bed. Whatever works for you is what matters.Focus. This doesn’t mean “only write about one specific topic” as some people say. If you want to be the world’s leading expert on marsupials in Macedonia, go right ahead. You’ll be a hero to all five people interested in that. Persistence. You’ve just got to do it! And you’ve got to keep doing it. Over and over. When you find yourself not writing, you have to find your way back. Continuing to work on something for a long period of time is often a strong predictor of success (except when it's not). Read More
Last year I shared the story of why I got a prescription for Adderall, the brand name of the psychostimulant drug that can help you control your attention and focus. Adderall is a controlled substance in the U.S. and most other western countries. It’s known for being abused by college students—you know, when you really need to study—but it’s also one of the most frequently prescribed treatments for both children and adults with ADHD.I was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid (whoa, look at that spaceship!) and was medicated for a while with Ritalin and other drugs, but until last year at the old age of 36, I hadn’t taken anything since I was 12 or so. The short version of why I decided to alter my stance on ADHD meds was that things weren’t working well. I had been late on my last book manuscript, and was beginning a new one that I wanted to complete on time. I had a long list of things I wanted to do (and believed in), but it had become more and more difficult to settle down and knock things off the list. Read More
I had coffee with an aspiring entrepreneur who was struggling with priorities.
“I worry I’m doing everything wrong!” he said.
Everywhere he went, people gave him free advice. They told him about email marketing ... and webinars ... and the latest new social network ... and all the things he had to do to keep up.
"I'm not sure I'll be able to do all these things," he continued. "I can hardly keep up with the list!"
Well, that’s the thing. First of all, it’s very hard to fully "keep up" these day. There’s always a new network to learn, a new tool to master. There’s always one more thing that can be done.Read More
I’m still getting a ton of emails about my decision to try the prescription drug Adderall to help with focus. I'm currently more than a month into the experiment, and so far I'm still pretty happy with it.After I posted some comments from a reader’s long-term experience with it, I heard of a couple alternatives that I thought I’d pass along for those who are interested. Here are some more anonymous comments from a different reader: Read More
When I decided to undertake a trial run of Adderall, a prescription drug that has both helpful and harmful uses, I also decided to share the story with our community. I figured if I’m struggling with something, I’m probably not the only one:
A Reader's Experience
Hey Chris! We haven’t talked in a while, but I read this post and wanted to provide an experience from someone who’s been doing this for a while. Here’s the short version:Read More
Here’s the whole story of my experience taking the prescription drug Adderall (the brand name for amphetamine and dextroamphetamine) to help with an increasing inability to focus. If you’re in a similar situation, this might help you, but don’t skip the details and disclaimers.Read More
Productive people are never "free." They don’t have 15 minutes on their lunch break to "have a quick call." They don’t "kill time"—a terrible phrase. You can always put a window of time to good use if you work for it. Productive people schedule their priorities—not always their time, but always their priorities. When they don’t have something to do, they find something to do. By the way, it’s not that productive people don’t make time for friends, family, recovery, and play time. They do. But because they do, and because they have plenty of other things to consider... they’re rarely "free." Read More
From Robert Genn’s recent letter to artists: Choreographer Twyla Tharp’s Creative Habit, describes her morning routine of rising early and going through the same morning rituals; same coffee, same bun. She puts on the same leotards, goes down the same elevator to the same street corner, puts her arm up in the air and gets…Read More
"It was true: the entire ball game was what you gave attention to vs. what you willed yourself to not." -David Foster Wallace There are many things on the typical daily list of tasks and appointments that can be ignored or mindlessly plodded through. For best results, don't just make a to-do list; make a to-stop-doing list. I wrote about to-stop-doing lists in the original AONC book.Read More
We all know there is a problem in focusing entirely on the end result. When you reach the end, what comes next? What if the end wasn't what you really wanted? That's why you have to love the milestones along the way, reminders that you appreciate what you're doing and that it's all for a good cause. But there's also a problem in focusing entirely on process. Working strictly on process takes you away from the big picture can lead you astray. Besides, it's OK to have goals, right?Read More