Process vs Product

One of the things I’ve “stolen” from the knitting community is the idea of being process vs product oriented. A process oriented person does things because they like the DOING of the things – they knit for the pleasure of knitting. A product oriented person knits for the END RESULT, and while they might enjoy knitting, they enjoy having a finished object more than they do the actual process of making it.

Most people are a little bit of both.

I have discovered that, in many aspects of my life, I am primarily product oriented. I don’t have any love for following a process, for the step by step doing of a thing, for the repeated effort of working on something. I get my fix from finishing stuff.

I do this at work (so much so that my boss knows that if I’m having a week where I’m bogged down in the process of five or six big proposals, she’ll assign me something small and quick, just so that I can have FINISHED SOMETHING DAMMIT that week). (My boss is awesome!) I do it with crafts – I like projects where I see the actual process quickly – big knitting on big needles, or small projects, or mandalas that only take a few hours to complete. The majority of the craft work that I do takes hours – not days, weeks, or months – to finish. I even hesitate to START big projects, because I know I’ll burn out on the process and they’ll sit, unfinished, for years.

And, I’m noticing, I do this with exercise.

Weight lifting is the first exercise program I have stuck with for more than six weeks (other than walking). The difference? I see real, measurable progress. I love doing yoga, but seem to have motivation issues to do it long term, because yoga doesn’t have any real markers for progress. Sure after months of work, I might notice I can go a little bit deeper in a forward bend, but it’s extremely slow, and yoga itself is essentially noncompetitive (which is part of what I like about it). With weights? I see progress – or not – every time I pick up a dumbbell. I have a little log book that tells me that in October, I could deadlift 35 lbs, and that this week, I can deadlift 90. While it’s not “finishing” something (I don’t suppose I’ll ever be truly finished), it’s giving me a real measure of accomplishment and results. (It’s also making the product about something I can DO, and not about how I LOOK, which is a good thing too.)

I know that I’m still in the “honeymoon” phase of lifting, where I’ll see fairly rapid gains in strength. I’m told that lasts 6 months to a year, and then the real “slog” begins. We’ll see how I do at that point. I am hoping that by then, this will be enough of a habit that I won’t be as bothered that I’m not adding weight every few weeks. For now though, I’m going to continue to pick up the heavy things and put them back down.

How I Write

In 10 simple steps, my creative process for blogging and writing short stories:

  • Step 1 – Have an idea. Possibly mine said idea out of twitter, emails, conversations, comments, or creative friends
  • Step 2 – Start writing something. Be unhappy with it, but write anyway. Keep writing until you have something kind of sort of like your idea (or not, sometimes ideas suck and sometimes they are shapeshifty and hard to pin down.)
  • Step 3 – Ask for outside input, then accept or reject said input. Often, realize that your friends are smarter and better writers than you are, and might be more qualified to write the post.
  • Step 4 – Realize the post is totally discombobulated, and might actually be three posts. Remove the parts that aren’t relevant, rearrange the paragraphs twice. Start two new posts with the various other ideas, realizing they’ll probably never get written.
  • Step 5 – Make sure it actually makes sense. Realize it doesn’t, fix a couple of sentences, add clarification. Delete clarification. Add it back.
  • Step 6 – Adjust flow, pacing, sentence length, and how many times you use the word “that”. Check for repeated words. Make sure you don’t start every sentence with “You,” “I,” or “It.” Decide you suck at writing upon realizing 2/3 of your sentences start with “You”, “I”, or “It”.
  • Step 7 – Repeat step 6. Probably twice.
  • Step 8 – Read it. Then, read it again. Realize you hate the second paragraph. Repeat Step 6 on the second paragraph three times… and then undo half of it.
  • Step 9 – Have someone else read it. Argue with them when they say it’s good and you should publish it. Edit the second paragraph again. Decide you hate your idea, but you’ve put all this time into it, so you might as well post the damn thing. Tinker with the conclusion anyway.
  • Step 10 – Say “to hell with this” and hit publish.

(Steps 11 and 12 – realize you typo’d something, have a bad comma, forgot to tag and categorize your post, screwed up a sentence, or possibly said something you didn’t mean. Edit the post twice. Or fourteen times.)