On Increasing Creative Output

This week I am juggling a number of things related to PyCon Canada, and life
in general. Also I came to the realization in the past few weeks, that if I
want to effectively work on long term projects like Rookeries, writing
about tooling, working on my side adventure, et cetera, without burnning
out I need to have the time, space, and health to do so effectively in the long

Still it felt wrong to break my writing/publishing schedule, just because I am
figuring things out. After I want to work on my output consistency while still
performing my normal day-to-day activities. Rather than force myself to rush
through the more technical post on Rookeries, I will something simpler.
Today I want to discuss some guidelines that have I adopted that help me get
better at creative work. Since both technical writing and programming are
ultimately creative work, the ideas I want to look at apply to them as well.

Schedules and Commitments

Creative types (e.g. writers and coders) often avoid schedules like the plague.
Yet I would agree you need both schedules and commitments (i.e. deadlines).
These push you to perform and ship real work. The more often you ship, publish,
release, so on, the more experience you gain and the better you become as a
professional creative. You need that feedback from your audience, client or
end-user, and you can only gain that by releasing your work to them.

Often you need external motivation to get something out there. Otherwise
you may engage endlessly in either procrastination or polishing something that
is already ready. Consistent commitments (like my own weekly journal post) help
you build that habit of shipping regularly. I would argue that regular shipping
is what differentiates a true professional creative and a wannabe. So embrace
those schedules and commitments!

Good Workflows and Environments Help You Get into the Flow

Creative output is the greatest when you are in the flow of things. Output
becomes natural, and you become more productive. However distractions can
easily pop you out of flow. If your tools, workflow or work environment
become the reason for distractions, then you will have a rough time creating.

Investing in a good workflow–tools and process that make you effective–pays
large dividends. In my case I figured out that Markdown and a good text editor,
makes me the most productive when writing. The ultimate reason for my creating
Rookeries is to create a better workflow for me when I work on websites.

Also finding the right environment to work improves creative output.
Environment includes both the physical and mental space. Hence putting on
the right music gets me into the flow than listening to the ambient noise of
an open office. (Actually I have a whole rant on why open office spaces are
the worst for creative work but that will be for another time.) Unfortunately
I do not currently have the luxury of adapting my work environment too much,
but if you have that option you should take it.

Stay Healthy

Staying healthy is one area that I often neglect to think about as a creative.
I get too caught up in the work, to remember to care of myself as well as I
ought to. The truth is that you can not consistently crank out great work when
you are sick, tired, unfocused, under the influence, or distracted by other
issues. Even if you try to push through say a cold while doing coding, you
generally find the results less than satifactory after the fact.

Physical fitness is important since you are human and you have a physical
component. That is why regular exercise, healthy food, regular rest, etc.
help with creative productivity. If you are not healthy, you will not have the
good enough energy levels for creative work.

Also as a human creative, you need to work on your mental and spirtual fitness
as well. Very few creatives can work outside of a supportive environment. I
could not imagine being productive without the support of my family, friends,
and colleagues. Also the less worries you have, the easier it will be to focus
on creative work.


I will summarize simply saying that if you want to maintain a creative
profession (writing, art, music, programming, etc.), you need to stick to
schedules and commitments to ship work regularly. Investing in a good
environment to work in will pay huge dividends. And stay healthy so that you
can continue to do the work you love for many happy years to come.

Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

Remember, remember the 5th of November. A very merry Guy Fawkes Day to ye all!

Some thoughts:

  • Anarchism isn’t about blowing things. It is about resisting the unethical and immoral lording of man over man.
  • If you absolutely positively plan on blowing up any parlaments today, try using something with a higher yield than a few barrels of gunpowder. e.g. semtex, plastique, C4, etc. 😉
  • Guy Fawkes wasn’t an anarchist. He wanted to reinstate a king. And please try not to blow up anything.

Drowsy Perspective

It seems that coffee has failed to awaken my drowsy brain.  So apologies to my readers if this blog comes out lopsided.  I’ve come to a number of realizations after a long evening conversation with a very good friend of mine.  Hence the need for copious amounts of coffee.  And the ever present drowsiness.  Also this post may come off as a jumbled stream of consciousness.  My neurons aren’t synapsing in sync today…

Recently, I’ve posted quite a lot in the form of micro-blogs or ‘dents as all the crazy identi.ca kids call them.  This is a fun but honestly distracting diversion.  So I’m going to give identi.ca a rest for a bit.  Same goes with daily blogging in any form.   I will post things of interests and tidbits on this blog once in a while.  And once in a while, when inspiration hits me I post an actual blog entry.  But I won’t rack my brains to post a daily update.  This is not because nothing interesting goes on in my life.  Rather much of what goes on must remain in the  privacy that is afford only to close friends and clients.  Also many things only make sense in a context, that must be experienced rather than described.  Finally, my interest currently lies with my projects and my writing.  And I want to concentrate on those things first and foremost.  I’ll still take up the challenge offered by Ryan, one of my former classmates.  I’ll post a new status update on Facebook for each day of 2010.  It’ll be mostly cryptic passages, but there will be one per day.

Another realization is that how futile it is to emulate things and joys of old.  There somethings that can be moved forward with time.  Some things just don’t.  It seems that long philosophical wanderings, while fun and enjoyable are not something I’ll be able to keep.  I’ll do it on occasion.  But honestly, I realize that as asinine as this sounds: I know what I already need to know about many of the big things.  And many times I find myself trying to change things that are beyond my means.  Or at least arguing the case for said change.  Most of the important questions can be boiled down to a simple individual questions.  And those questions are relatively easy to answer with a combination of faith, logic and experience.  Everything else is honestly just “frosting”.  And that frosting just detracts from the important stuff many times.  (I’ve started rambling haven’t I?)

Another realization is that there are many important changes I want to happen in my life.  And these will take time and effort.  And concentration.  So I’m putting aside all the little distractions and trying to concentrate on the important things.  It is a bit scary when it feels like many of your friends seem more like adults than yourself.  I know that everyone feels this from time to time.  I have no qualms saying that I’m not a special unique butterfly with experiences unshared by anyone else.  Still it is an unnerving thought that one is not living up to one’s full potential.  And that your close friends are.  It is time to catch up.

In conclusion, so I can finish this…  (If you ever wondered what the wandering mind of an author looks like first thing in the morning.  )  I’m taking a hiatus on my distractions.  I’m sorry that I can’t manage to post daily updates.  I’ll try to see what I can do.  But honestly, in the bigger scheme of things, my daily blog ponderings and activities are not all that important.  And I need to concentrate on the important things.  Once things fall into place, I’ll probably return to something more regular.

Time for the third cup of coffee.

First Snow, Last Month

I got up this morning, and saw light snow cover on the rooftops and ground.  The sun shone and so the snow-that reminder of December and winter-disappeared as quickly as it appeared.  Today marks the first day of the month of December and the second day of the week.  Nothing of particular relevance in the grand scheme of things.  Maybe I tie too much value in a particular day or time of year.  Still as I looked at the snow, I felt I had come full circle from last year.  A year of running around, of trials, tribulations and experiences.  Feeling older… am I wiser for it?  I do feel I am colder and less accepting.

As I stared at the snow, I wondered if all my efforts in the various aspects of my life simply melt away under a harsh sun.  I wondered if I made in-roads at work, at parties and in my life.  An answer forms in my head, but not a clear resounding yes.  But neither a draining no.  Rather a confused jumble of yes and no, some gains but at what losses.

As I stared at the snow, I realized how little time I have left before Advent rushes by.  Soon Christmas and New Year’s Day will arrive.  There is so much to do and I want a new start in the new year.  Time flies and each day disappears like last night’s snow in a year’s sun.


This past week gave me much to think about, and the long periods of silence that helps guide such thinking.  Amongst the many thoughts, worries, concerns and hopes, the hardest realization is facing reality for what it is.  Regardless of what people tell you, reality does exist.  And its existence is independent of your own.  Reality cares very little about your existence and cares even less about how your feelings toward it.  Accepting reality for what it is, is paramount… no matter how difficult or painful it maybe.  Such is the curse and blessing of realism.

I won’t lie.  Accepting one’s place in time and space is not always pleasant.  I’m at the same time content and discontent with where I am.  But now that I’ve accepted, it is only a question of what is the best thing to do with what one has.  Note the emphasis on has and not had or can potentially have.  I’m still searching for the answers to my questions.


This week I realized:

  • How little I really know about the important stuff: like faith.  There are so many knowledge to be gained in fields related to this.  (Thanks Marika for pointing that out to me with your questions.)
  • Hold on and act upon your ideals.  You can not please everyone.  But you will please the people who share your ideals and goals.  And you will gain respect from others for having the audacity to not cower or hand-wring when your ideals are questioned.
  • Love will find you some day.  It doesn’t come in convenient times or locations.  But wait and hold out for the best stuff.  (But have I?  Maybe or maybe not.)
  • Continued steady accumulation of something doesn’t mean it will accumlate in a linear fashion.
  • You must be in touch with both reality but also with ideas that define you.
  • The tortoise was right.  Working on anything in a steady continual pace achieves much more than quick bursts of anything.  (Remember my stone tortoise story?)
  • Treasure the time for rest.  Adequate acts as a better multiplier of what you get done, than working longer hours.  (To the discoverers of coffee beans, coffee and caffeine, thank you for helping those who broke their proper sleep cycles.)
  • If you think there is a better way of doing things, there probably is.  However the better may not be applicable to your situation for various reasons: lack of resources, restrictions et cetera.
  • Let things happen.  Don’t be disappointed when they don’t.  (Thanks Caroline for that insight.)

Rolling a Katamari

I had a great weekend.  I got to meet a few new people.  Made quite a few people jealous by walking around with some quite attractive ladies.  No, I am not suddenly dating multiple girls or anything crazy like that.  Just made a few friends, and went for a few walks with them.  Them being attractive in my case was only a bonus.  Even thought I feel kind of dirty for thinking this… but… I had fun making other people that I have something that other’s want, even if I’m totally just posing. 😀  Sometimes I like being perceived to being on the other side of the equation.  Whether or not the perception is real or not doesn’t matter, at least not in these cases.

That aside, I’ve recently become addicted to a game for my cellphone.  Rolling with Katamari is ridicilously addictive.  I know the game does not break any new ground.  Katamari Damacy exisited for quite some time.  But I like the concept of growing a rolling ball by consuming larger and larger objects.  The beginning of each level starts off slowly.  You can’t absorb all the neat big items.  You have to start small and build up.  After a while you become a massive rolling, all consuming ball of goodness.  This seems analogous to life.  Start small, accumulate, save and with some patience, effort and good tactics, you too can become unstoppable. Just like the Katamari games luck and positioning help you achieve more in less time.