Why wait for the muse when you could be churning out product? It’s not a very romantic notion, but many of the most effective writers/painters/inventors work every single day—even if it’s only for a few minutes.
Here’s what bestselling author Gretchen Rubin has to say about the power of frequency in our new 99U book:
Frequency keeps ideas fresh. You’re much more likely to spot surprising relationships and to see fresh connections among ideas if your mind is constantly humming with issues related to your work. when I’m deep in a project, everything I experience seems to relate to it in a way that’s absolutely exhilarating. The entire world becomes more interesting. That’s critical, because I have a voracious need for material, and as I become hyperaware of potential fodder, ideas pour in. By contrast, working sporadically makes it hard to keep your focus. It’s easy to become blocked, confused, or distracted, or to forget what you were aiming to accomplish.
Frequency keeps the pressure off. If you’re producing just one page, one blog post, or one sketch a week, you expect it to be pretty darned good, and you start to fret about quality. I knew a writer who could hardly bring herself to write. When she did manage to keep herself in front of her laptop for a spate of work, she felt enormous pressure to be brilliant; she evaluated the product of each work session with an uneasy and highly critical eye. She hadn’t done much work, so what she did accomplish had to be extraordinarily good. Because I write every day, no one day’s work seems particularly important. I have good days and I have bad days. Some days, I don’t get much done at all. But that’s okay, because I know I’m working steadily. My consequent lack of anxiety puts me in a more playful frame of mind and allows me to experiment and take risks. If something doesn’t work out, I have plenty of time to try a different approach.
This is an excerpt from Manage Your Day-to-Day, the new book from 99U, with contributions from Gretchen Rubin, Dan Ariely, Seth Godin, Stefan Sagmeister, and many more.