In my last post, I discussed the value of regular writing throughout the school year. And if you want to produce any sort of reasonable quantity—especially necessary if you’re creating a portfolio for college scholarships or supplementary materials (more in a later post)—you need to be regularly producing material.
The problem with this method, however, is that it doesn’t speak to quality.
It would be nice if improving at writing was a linear process, with each hour of effort yielding a proportional return in quality. Instead, however, it is a jerky ride, one alternating between quick, intense leaps and plateaus.
Productivity guru Scott Young describes it like this:
In chemistry, there’s the idea of an activation cost. This is the threshold of energy you need to surpass to start a chemical reaction. Dynamite, for example, contains a lot of energy. But unless a spark or lit fuse pays the activation cost it won’t explode.
This explains why, for all of your routinized effort, you aren’t seeing meaningful improvements in the quality of your work: You haven’t paid your activation cost. This doesn’t mean that your regular effort is meaningless; it just means it’s not enough.
What, then, can get you over these writing slumps? Read the rest of this entry »