Similar, but different

Creating my podcast feels like debugging. After quite a bit of trial and error, not knowing how far I am from identifying and solving the problem, eventually and suddenly it’ll be working for me. It takes however long it takes, and then it’s a source-control commit message away from being done.

In the case of the podcast, there’s more to it than that. Besides recording — the fun part — there are a bunch of manual steps to post-process, encode, publish, and publicize. I’m annoyed by repetitive steps in general, and by these in particular, because they stand between me and a hard-earned adrenaline hit. That makes me slightly less happy to have finished another episode. Being able to push a figurative button (or run a literal program) would make me slightly more happy instead. I want that, and I’m getting closer.

I do recognize I’m optimizing away from the bottleneck, considering the script takes me hours to write. I’m not proud of that. If there were a faster, easier way to reach into my brain and pull out something of equal value, I’d do it in a second, or however many seconds it’d take. Meanwhile, I observe that, thus far, incremental value correlates roughly with incremental effort. As a lazy person I very much want to reduce effort, but as a perfectionist I very much don’t want to compromise value.



Or so it seemed, until I got to experiment with another way. Pillar has been making a series of short (3 minutes or less, usually) videos on various topics pertaining to our business, and our artist/producer Darrin Hoover came up to our Michigan office this week with his multimedia rig and a bagful of black crayons. I talked into the microphone on a couple technical topics I feel strongly about, Darrin drew some images directly or imaginatively related to what I said, we took some footage of me manipulating the drawings on or around my face, and that was that. What a change of pace! — the interactive collaboration with a creative partner who reflected and amplified my ideas, the video aspect, the being blessedly uninvolved in the production process.

Compared to my usual, this was similar, yet different. I came away reinvigorated about my usual. (I’ll share the two videos as soon as they’re up.)

Rate of flow

My podcast production has had no buffer (with one exception). Every week, if I’m to publish a new episode, that requires that I bring a new episode into existence. This needs to change, effective immediately, because the travel routine that has afforded my writing routine will come to an end in mid-December, to be followed by six weeks of deliberately routine-busting time off. So if I’m to continue shipping new episodes on schedule through the end of January, then for the next five weeks I need to be writing more than two new episodes per week.

That’s never felt possible before, but it feels possible now. For one thing, I’ve seized on a new sequence of topics that excites me (including this week’s Refactor). For another, if I’m smart, I’ll learn from Darrin’s fast, unfiltered creative process and tune my design for bringing you 3 valuable minutes.