I started listening to the book this morning and am enjoying some of the reframes David Kadavy presents.
Attempting to summarize what I’ve read so far in 3 sentences: David wrote a few books and realized his best writing was done as a nomad. He travels to Medellin to work and to also try to figure out exactly why his best work is done there. He writes the book and recognizes patterns and differences between cultures that can inform how to approach creative work.
Build an understanding of the diverge-converge flow of creative work
He knows that he’ll have the best chance of finishing his daily work if it’s first thing in the morning. I liked an analogy he shared: work is similar to airports. Airports start fresh each day, so morning flights have fewer delays than later flights. Because they’re less affected by any chain reactions. Same with the mornings—they’ll be more predictable and interruption free.
But how do you use that time best? Start with divergent work (get the draft down) and then switch to convergent work (revise a draft for publishing). Whether you do this all in the morning or not, in can still be useful to sequence these on whatever time scale.
If you just diverge-diverge-diverge without a balance of converge-converge-converge then you’ll start way more work than you can actually finish.
Clock time vs. Event time
Americans tend to run on clock time: I’ll eat lunch at 12:30pm. Clock time is good for work efficiency.
Kadavy noticed people in Colombia running on event time: I’ll eat lunch when I’m hungry. Event time is good for creative effectiveness.
The rebuttal that comes to mind is that whole saying that I’ll butcher right now: I’ll write when inspiration strikes and that usually happens at 6am when I’m writing.
So it’s about balancing the two in some way. Some novel connection will hit you when you aren’t at the desk in front of a keyboard. Those things might happen on walks. But you can plan for walks and have a process ready in case that kind of connection happens.
Preparation, Incubation, Illumination, Verification
David describes the four stages of control aka the four stages of creativity.
- Prepare at night by researching for the following morning
- Incubate during sleep
- Illuminate in the morning by writing a draft
- Verify later in the morning or in the day by revising a draft
This reminds me of a few other frameworks for creative work.
Tiago Forte’s building a second brain methodology has similar steps to move from information diet to notes to intermediate packets all contributing to final projects.
Roy Peter Clark describes steps for writing in Writing Tools:
In other words, the writer conceives an idea, collects things to support it, discovers what the work is really about, attempts a first draft, and revises in the quest for greater clarity.
In each of these there’s some sequence of diverge-converge.
Sleep is when short term moves into long term, you’re only working with long term in the morning
I’ll need to straighten out the science here but the idea seems to be that you have limited short term memory and only a certain amount of bandwidth for moving that information from short term to long term memory.
And it’s going to be sort of random. If you stuff your short term memory to the brim, you can add more. But something’s going to just drop off and disappear forever. It isn’t exactly going to be last-in-first-out or first-in-first-out.
“As you’re trying to connect concepts to generate ideas, it’s like you’re pulling actors onstage to act in scenes. But the more actors you have on the stage, the more difficult your scene becomes to follow. So at some point you need to send some actors offstage.”
Be a little more diligent about what goes in and it’ll be more predictable what gets remembered. It’ll be waiting for you in the morning.
That’s that for now. I’ll keep adding to this as I continue reading.