A while back I wrote a little piece about treating my writing like project management (heavily informed by my own project management experience (Six Sigma and Agile Lean, yo).
That said, I think it’s still an important part of the way I treat my work – to break out the major milestones and try to parse out the work in a way that makes it very “readable” to me.
So, in the spirit of that article, I wanted to talk about something else that I’ve started to implement into my workstyle from my own corporate life – walking the talk.
You can have as many rules, guidelines, metrics, and roadmaps anyone can ever ask for (and nobody really asks for these) but none of it will EVER give you a whiff of satisfaction if you don’t execute in a meaningful way. Execution in a meaningful way doesn’t mean just doing the work too. Anyone can do the work but not many will apply principles to future work until it becomes standard operating procedure; until the principle begins dictating how you plan and execute.
An example to place this mess into a nice little pen: I started a podcast. This is nothing unique. There are a billion sources of advice on how to start and execute a project like this and at the end of the day, it’s super easy to follow every step and “launch”. Unfortunately, my brain does not work like that. If I follow a recipe I will deviate and I will inevitably stall out. I need to step back and consider how I learn and how I execute before I commit to action in meaningful way.
This meant taking a step back and finding a path towards the goal. That goal wasn’t merely to launch. That goal was to launch with a volume of prepared content ready, a process defined, and a meaningful first year goal already set. This also meant learning and I needed time to learn, so I did. I tried video blogging out. I played around with audio/video software and attempted other methods of how I approached subject matter. I also listened/watched a TON of content. I read articles on hardware and best options for exposure. I considered what I enjoyed and what I felt I can do. I acknowledged trends and thought about what I wasn’t seeing or hearing. I wasn’t going to reinvent the wheel but if I wanted to do this, I needed to do it right—for me.
There is a danger in going all in like this, even with proper planning and solution analysis: overthinking.
Once you’ve collected data points and start really working, you can easily find yourself in that loop of doubt that casts its ugly shadow when you’re trying to implement any new idea. When it comes to creative endeavors like writing or even a podcast, a lot of that doubt comes from wondering whether an audience will respond or if others will agree with your intent. This is an obstacle with any stakeholder driven project and can place you at odds with yourself (or others) while leaving the work in limbo—not a fun result.
What do you do in those cases? Well, you stick to your guns. My favorite part of taking my corporate brain and running a creative project through it is not having to worry about the hindrances of executive level hard stops, budget constraints that weren’t already defined, and ultimately, needing to give a flying fuck about anyone else. The last part is most important: you’re in a special place where the stakeholders (as loosely defined as they are) aren’t important in the short-term decision-making process. This is art, man, the only person you should answer to is you. If it flops, then your stakeholder(s) and audience have given you feedback. It’s learning for the next endeavor (when it’s time to get there, not like, right then. Stay on target).
Back on track. You plan, you study, you experiment, you fail, you plan some more, and then you execute. None of this should be new to you but it’s something we don’t normally externalize. We also never necessarily think about post-execution, or a control phase of sorts. You may launch and be effectively “done” but there is always room for improvement. You patch, you refine, and you examine efforts. You see where the wall is weak and derive next actions from there. You keep moving because you’re a shark and there’s not much room for stopping in this kiddie pool. You walk the fucking talk. You approach your endeavors in this way and win or lose you accomplish.
After all of that, you end up with a shiny new project you write a bunch of articles to get people to check out.
My next novella PULL & PRAY goes on sale July 30th, 2018 but you can preorder NOW.
My podcast, the bastard title, is up and running over on iTunes, Google Play, Blubry, and SoundCloud!
Angel Luis Colón is the Anthony and Derringer Award-nominated author of PULL & PRAY (July 2018), NO HAPPY ENDINGS, the BLACKY JAGUAR series of novellas, and the collection MEAT CITY ON FIRE (AND OTHER ASSORTED DEBACLES). His fiction has appeared in multiple web and print publications including Thuglit, Literary Orphans, and Great Jones Street. He currently hosts a podcast called the bastard title where he and other creatives talk shop and other nonsense.
His debut novel, HELL CHOSE ME, is due for release in 2019 from Down & Out Books.
Keep up with Angel on Twitter at @GoshDarnMyLife