Doing the Work vs. Writing About It

August 17, 2015 · 11 comments

This blog has been quiet for nearly a month. It’s perhaps the longest I’ve ever gone without posting.

On several occasions, I started writing a blog post to explain why. I wrote about how I’m juggling a company transition and preparing to have a baby. I wrote about how I’m failing at a lot of little things and letting small bad things happen so I can make progress on big priorities, those that really move the needle.

But I always stopped short of pressing publish. While those explanations were accurate, none of them felt right.

Today, while reading Paul Jarvis’ post on the difference between being successful and being known, I realized why. Because the real reason I haven’t published a blog post lately is simple: I’m doing the work.

Focusing on the making.

Focusing on the making.

Doing the work vs. writing about it

Usually when I deep-dive into work, I come up for air occasionally to write about doing that work. Writing is how I process, so the writing itself, while it can take time and energy away from the doing, is often highly beneficial, helping me develop ideas and solutions I might not have discovered otherwise.

But sometimes — and I’m in one of those times right now — doing the work is enough. During intense periods of productivity, my brain doesn’t always have the capacity to do the work and write about it.

Being heavily pregnant probably has something to do with this, as I’m more tired than usual and less apt to continue working into the evening hours, which means I have no choice but to let some things go undone.

But I think there’s more to it than that, because I’ve felt this way before, during other periods of Getting Sh*t Done. I think my brain is simply “in it,” as Sam from Garden State would say. It’s in deep, and interrupting that deep work would do more harm than good.

I was feeling guilty about not going the extra mile to write about my work — I’m always so consistent about blogging! — until I read Paul’s insightful post. He suggests:

As soon as someone becomes more of a megaphone than a maker, their skills start to slip. They’re now removed from making because their time is spent talking about it instead of doing it.

It’s much harder to keep up in the practical sense when you’re engaged in talking theory. So the people we pay the most attention to may not even be the most talented, and the longer they’re in the spotlight, the less connected to the craft they might be. That’s why some megaphones disappear for months at a time from the spotlight, so they can reconnect with making.

That’s what I’m doing: reconnecting with the making. The making of a new editorial department, and on a personal level, the making of a tiny human.

Sometimes you’ve got to live life rather than write about it. When the muse comes calling, as it did for this post, I’ll always answer. But until then, I’m going to practice embracing the quiet on this blog, and letting the write-about-it side of my brain rest whenever it wants.

It’s time to focus on the work and reconnect with the making.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Alison Johansen August 17, 2015 at 5:21 pm

Congratulations to you! You have two new babies you’re growing! Well said and well done. I’m very happy for you!
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Alexis Grant September 1, 2015 at 8:57 pm

Thanks, Alison!

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Amanda Shofner August 17, 2015 at 7:33 pm

Love this, Lexi! (And congrats, by the way!) I stopped blogging for a while because I could maintain writing or blogging about writing — and it was an easy choice, really. I chose writing. I disliked the idea of blogging about something I wasn’t even doing, especially when some of my best ideas come from doing. I think Paul nails it.
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Alexis Grant September 1, 2015 at 8:58 pm

So true that the best ideas come from DOING. Thanks for chiming in =)

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wendy mccance August 24, 2015 at 5:26 pm

Congrats on the baby!! What an exciting time in your life. I am the opposite of you when it comes to writing on my blog. The busier I am, the more I seem to have to say. I am one of those people who are twice as productive when I have fewer hours to get it all done. Over the summer, I ended up taking a couple of months off from blogging. I tried, but I was numb. A cancer diagnosis had me reeling and I just couldn’t put words to paper. Thankfully, I am now back in full swing. Sometimes life just gets in the way of the progress we are making. In the end, you know you have won the lottery when no matter what comes up to sidetrack you, you begin again plugging away because you love what you do. 🙂

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Alexis Grant September 1, 2015 at 8:59 pm

Wendy — I see your point. Often I get *better* ideas when I’m busy with the doing… but sometimes it’s just too much. I think we just have to embrace that urge to write whenever it hits!

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Chris Ronzio August 27, 2015 at 2:28 pm

I love this! Thank you for giving me the excuse I’ve been searching for. I knew it wasn’t laziness, but I’m cultivating the experiences that will lead to more great writing.
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Alexis Grant September 1, 2015 at 9:00 pm

Thanks, Chris! I think you find a good balance… I always love getting your newsletters, so keep it up!

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Beth August 30, 2015 at 1:50 pm

It’s so nice to know I’m not alone! I have been struggling with this issue for over a month. My reasons are slightly different (no pregnancy here, but I have teenagers…that has to count for something!), but I just couldn’t bring myself to work on my blog and the sound of crickets is getting deafening over there. I have eight posts in my draft folder that are just waiting for the final polish and I can’t seem to finish them. I was feeling rather bad about myself, but now I’m looking at it from a whole different perspective. Thanks a bunch and congratulations!!

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Alexis Grant September 1, 2015 at 9:00 pm

Sure! I hope folks don’t use this as an excuse, because I do think most of the time we’ve got to push through the challenging days and *make time* to blog… but sometimes you just can’t do everything.

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dwebwalker October 23, 2015 at 10:58 am

I sometimes get carried away and distracted, that I spend so much time talking about how great this or that is… and talk so much time off doing.

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