Live the Process

Lean manufacturing. Six Sigma process analysis. 5S. The Toyota methodologies. Fancy lingo used only in the business world, right?

One might be inclined to think so. Living as a manufacturing manager, my life is often littered with instances of these very concepts being enforced. When some of the more exuberant coaches come forward, they will often speak at how these methodologies have permeated their life, that they use these methods outside of the job.

Being young and naïve, my immediate response involved a snicker. “Yeah, right,” I would reply in my mind, because in no way would I outwardly mock the individual. Come to my late 30’s now and trying to build two careers, I have been starting to see the very benefits of using the tools of the trade not only in manufacturing, but in writing.

Yes. Writing.

Or drawing. Or any creative endeavor really.

Yes, I am serious.

Now before someone mocks me, here’s what has happened so far this year:

  • I am still working a full-time+ job. After all, I am a salaried manager of a manufacturing department. At best I work 50 hours a week. Worst… let’s just say I’ve been known to work 13 days straight with over 200 hours logged in that time frame. Nature of the job. Recently I’ve worked 6 days a week 4 out of the last 5 weeks. In other words: I work a lot.
  • I am a husband and a father. That means family time. Household responsibilities go beyond just being the person who metaphorically (and literally on occasion) brings home the bacon. Being that I work so much, this also means having to be purposeful in deliberately spending time with my family rather than sitting down to write.
  • I go to the gym. I spend usually a little over an hour there plus the travel time (adding around 30 to 45 minutes on top of that) most days of the week.
  • Since February when I resumed monitoring word count again, I’ve written over 75,000 words. Think of that, in just shy of five months I have written over the 40,000 words required to call something a novel. Almost double actually. For many, it takes years to accumulate that much.

One might be inclined to look at me and say, “you’ve barely sold a damn book, why should I even listen to you?”

It’s not about books sales. In fact, the vast majority of my efforts hasn’t been about sales and marketing at all, hence the lack of sales. That’s to be the next phase of work on my building my second career, something I’ve only recently been shifting my focus to get serious about.

Where do I find the time? I steal, I sacrifice, I substitute. Those three actions are only a small piece, however. What has this performance been attributed to? I only employ one writing hack, but even that hack is part of what is ultimately responsible: process.

Now, to say that I am perfect is a gross overstatement. My process is flawed, not robust. My writing continues to be a struggle. That’s where my old habits fight against the new methods. Why I felt the need to write this post though is that I’ve been finding improvements where I’ve employed the strategies one thinks only useful in manufacturing/business environments. How can that stuff possibly work for creatives? I’ll answer that one later. Consider this a first step as you come along with me in the learning, um… process.

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