Lawyers, Engineers, and embracing randomness

Last night, I called the Engineer (as he’ll now be known), and asked what he was up to. “Drinking beer and demo-ing the basement!” he replied enthusiastically. I had to laugh. This is the start of a new adventure!

We have a shared appreciation for following our inspiration when it comes to projects of a creative nature, rather than adhering to the first-started-first-finished rule. I personally find this trait endearing, and it’s possible that my bin of sewing “Projects in Progress” has something to do with that. Also, I’m beginning to wonder if the seemingly random approach to completing big projects (like, say, a house remodel or I don’t know, writing a book, maybe?) is the way to go. At least for some of us.

According to Mythbusters, the most efficient way to load an airplane is randomly. Maybe it’s just because I want this to be true, but my theory is this has to be applicable to other endeavors comprised of many independent pieces. I think about my approach to writing, particularly big, complex assignments. It looks something like this:

  1. Google all the words I don’t know.
  2. Make coffee.
  3. Stare out the window.
  4. Scribble some questions on a legal pad.
  5. Stare out the window.
  6. Scribble some more questions on a legal pad. Draw faces next to questions indicating my level of confusion/displeasure with their unansweredness.
  7. Start researching key terms from questions.
  8. Write an outline.
  9. Start filling in the middle of the outline from my research.
  10. Stare out the window.
  11. Open a new word document and write a new outline; complete ⅔ of it.
  12. Write a conclusion.
  13. Get a drink of water.
  14. Do some more research.
  15. Write a new outline in a different format.
  16. Stare out the window.
  17. Doodle.
  18. Check my email.
  19. Work on a different project.
  20. Have a flash of inspiration and hammer out a rough draft without leaving my desk until it’s complete.
  21. Go to the bathroom.
  22. More research/window staring.
  23. Revise.

You get the idea. I simply cannot imagine doing anything that requires any amount of creative energy any other way. If I tried to follow some well-organized (lol) and linear method for writing projects I am wholly confident the end product would be awful. And I would hate every moment of it.

I have embraced my writing process. What feels important to me is to keep the big-picture purpose in mind and just keep churning until it becomes clear that the pieces have come together. The more I think about it, the more that feels like my intuitive approach to accomplishing anything big in my life. Envision the end goal clearly, and then just keep moving forward, staying flexible with the path to getting there. I can’t say this is the objectively “best” way to do things, but it sure seems to work for me.

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