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Vox Pop: Implementing GTD for Creative Work?

creativepro.com - Getting Design Done

Interesting article here by our old pal, Keith Robinson, introducing GTD to creative types. This is a fascinating topic for me, particularly since I sometimes find it difficult to "crank widgets" when it comes to anything creative.

Keith's an old hand with this stuff, so it's not surprising that he's developed his own tweaks for Getting Creativity Done. Here's a novel idea:

Create a creative time and space for yourself. Make sure it's free of distraction and get into the habit of going there as often as you can. When there, pull out your @creative lists and get to work. I find this is a great way to tackle smaller creative problems. It's how I come up with -- and get started on -- most of my writing. This article is a result of my @creative time.

That's an interesting way to think about contexts. Ordinarily, you'd think of contexts as representing access to a certain kind of tool or as a physical or temporal limitation, whereas Keith is using it almost like a project.

This is challenging stuff that my buddy, Ethan, and I end up talking about all the time. We both agree that you can use GTD to "clear the decks" for creative work -- to move aside all the mundane workaday tasks that might keep you from focusing on blocks of time for creative stuff. But we, like a lot of people, both struggle with how (or even whether) to put truly creative work into our GTD systems. What do you think?

How are you using GTD for creative work? What do projects and next actions look like for a painter, a screenwriter, or a dancer? What's your best trick for getting creative stuff done?

Fritz Bogott's picture

My novel-writing process is heavy...

My novel-writing process is heavy on next actions and 3x5 cards.

In order to crank out fiction on a strict schedule, I use Syd Field's "56 Cards" system (described in his Screenwriter's Workbook.) In the canonical version of this system, you build up your plot by writing a brief scene description on each of 56 3x5 cards (14 scene-cards each for Act I, Act IIA, Act IIB and Act III.) Then you tack the cards up on a wall and debug your plot by moving and replacing cards. (I’ve done a portable version of this with the small-size Post-It Notes and an accordion-fold Moleskine.)

Once you're satisfied with the scene outline, you can stack the cards and use the card-stack as a next-action stack: When you sit down to write, you just pop a card and focus on that one scene. You know the structure is already taken care of, so the decks are clear and you can focus on the scene at hand. I find that this system breaks the large, scary novel-writing project into a sequence of discrete, non-scary scene-writing next-actions. It takes the fear and loathing out of novel writing.

(The card-system I just described will sound extremely familiar to Extreme Programming practitioners, right down to the push-pins. I take this to be a case of parallel evolution.)




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