Brad Sucks on Productivity

The title reads two ways, I mean it in the positive interpretation. Here is one of the most succinct summations of my feelings on productivity and creativity. I frequently talk about “putting your ass in the chair and doing the work.” Brad was talking about doing the groundwork for his next album when he dropped in this doozy:

And I know that for me there’s a dangerously thin line between absolute perfectionism and total laziness. Both result in not finishing anything. It’s in the middle where the magic happens.

Just so. SF writer Steven Barnes once said to me “perfectionism is procrastination disguised as quality control.” Given the choice, I’m always in favor of finishing flawed work rather than noodling infinitely on something that is asymptotically approaching perfect. To me, polishing one work indefinitely rather than finishing and moving on to something else is an implicit admission that you feel you only have one shell in the magazine. I’ve been accused of being an apologist for half-assery and hackery with this stance, but I believe one of the best senses to acquire is the sense of when you have hit the point of diminishing returns. When subsequent effort stops improving it, stop working on it and submit/publish/display/get rid of the goddamned thing and start working on the next one. This applies for writers, artists, filmmakers, podcasters, poets, custom furniture makers, craft brewers or any pursuit with the slightest aspect of creativity. Learn how to put your ass in the chair, but also learn how to stand back up. It is truly in the middle where the magic happens.

One Reply to “Brad Sucks on Productivity”

  1. Dave,

    Absolutely awesome post! I love the Barnes quote. Friend, you may be getting older (e.g. your ‘In The ATL’ comment “hanging out and seeing old friends”), but you are also getting wiser! I think aging is worth the trade and it sure beats the hell out of the alternative. As always, you rock Dave!

    Danny

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