The chicken is only an egg’s way for making another egg – Richard Dawkins
Flipping logic on its head can be fun!
On a similar note, Seth Godin has spoken about his blogging approach. Seth blogs not because he notices interesting things. He notices interesting things because he blogs regularly. Similarly, Daniel Pink does not wait for an idea to crystallize until he writes about it. Instead, he writes about an idea to start to understand it.
Defining the default state can make all the difference. In the context of creative work, the default state could be focused around a product or a process.
In case of the product-centric approach, there is a risk involved. The output of creative work is random. Its quality can fluctuate wildly. Sometimes, the desired quality is reached in half-an-hour of brainstorming, and at others, it can be an agonizing grind that lasts several hours without anything to show for it. Banking upon one’s creative product is much like investing in one stock in the stock market.
With a process-centric approach, success is defined as following a certain pre-defined ritual, regardless of the outcome. With time, one becomes unfailing in pursuing it. Much like Seth Godin, who has been blogging for more than 16 years now. A practice is the act of having bad ideas on a regular basis, to make room for a great one every now and then. This is analogous to investing in a balanced portfolio, where in the long run, the good stocks offset the performance of the bad ones.
With sustained practice, the quality of the product begins to meet with the consistency of the process. The boundaries between them melt away, and they enter a virtuous embrace where the process and the product help refine each other.
If there is a lesson I have taken away from the last 100 posts, it is this one.