Fragment from imaginary dialogues
“How can I optimize writing?”
“What does your writing practice look like?”
“There’s a beautiful practice which I know from Brian Johnson:
Be creative before you’re reactive.
I start every day with writing.
The first Deep-Work block of the day (DW1) is 6 pomodoro long, which I divide between writing and learning/reading.
3 pomo writing
3 pomo learning/reading
“What’s the problem?”
“On most days it works great. However there are days when inspiration is harder to find.”
“In her book A Mind for Numbers [about learning how to learn], Barbara Oakley makes a distinction between two modes of thinking: the Focused Mode, and the Diffuse Mode.
She uses it in the context of problem-solving for Math and Science, but it applies to any creative endeavor with a problem-solving element.
“I hadn’t thought of writing as problem-solving.”
“Trying to figure out what you want to write about, clarifying your understanding of something, figuring out the best way to convey it in writing, all can be seen as a beautiful puzzle.
Focused Mode is a period of time deeply focused on the puzzle.
Diffuse Mode is a period of time away from the puzzle.
In the Focused Mode you’re opening a process[<link; short read].
In the Diffuse Mode your subconscious mind is working on it in the background, making wild creative connections.
This can be used strategically, by alternating between the Focused and Diffuse Mode. I call it the Focused/Diffuse Oscillation.”
“So, in my case, I could start with a pomodoro of writing. If I’m feeling inspired, I can continue with another one. If not, I could switch to a learning/reading pomodoro, thus activating the Diffuse Mode, and then come back to writing.”
“There you go.”