February 19, 2023

The Other Reason I Stopped Blogging

I blogged a fair amount (for me, and relative to many colleagues) before I went into consulting and continuing on into my time at Leading Agile -- right up until it became mandatory. The company had a desire to have more people write more content more often so it became expected that everyone be involved. The implementation was a well intentioned across the board writing calendar; a rotation for every consultant to write a blog post when his or her week came up.

That killed my writing motivation. 

I stopped writing. Corporate writing scheduler: "Write something!" Me: "Uh, well, no, and why don't you go pound sand." That's the lack-of-autonomy and lack-of-purpose (ref Pink's Drive) triggers for me. That was part of my writer's block.

Then I got over that (not wanting to comply) and began to think that I just couldn't write on schedule. I could write only when the inspiration hit me. Creativity can't be scheduled. There is some truth to that for me. Much of my writing was in response to either (a) a question someone asked me or (b) an answer someone gave me in response to a question I had. Even in the 1st case, the writing was a thinking tool. It helped me think though how to articulate a point or express a concept for the benefit of others.

It just now hit me that my writing also scratched the itch that Pink in Drive called mastery. As long as I was learning, I was writing. As long as I was learning how to better help others learn, I was writing. 

There came a time when my learning in some old areas slowed, and writing declined. And my learning shifted to a couple new spaces and before I figured out how to write about those things, I changed employers. 

I just discovered an important point about why I didn't start writing again in that new role. I discovered this while reading John Cutler's "TBM 9/52: Writing Culture Challenges". John wrote "A writing culture is a reading culture and a feedback-giving culture. A write-and-reading-and-feedback-giving culture requires time to think, process, and respond. Writing isn't the end goal: thinking and improving is the goal."

That's what happened when a writing schedule was put in place at Leading Agile -- writing was the goal; marketing was the goal. Well, the company's leadership might have known that writing was to develop thinking, but that's not how the expectation was expressed.

Then in the new role, the work-load set it. John says that you don't get a writing culture in "Conditions of high reactivity, cognitive load, and passivity. No one has time or energy to think, ask questions, and process. Too much energy goes into doing and reacting."

John goes on: "…you can't just 'switch' to writing culture. It has very little to do with the writing and everything to do with the preoccupation with busyness, optics, power, control, and tempo. ... Work-in-progess [sic], change-in-progress, and planning-in-progress is just too high to think." Yikes!

John gives some good suggestions, techniques in his article. Worth reading. But he doesn't tell you what to do with the high WIP, high change-in-progress problems in that article. I expect he has in some of his other articles that I haven't read. It's worth subscribing to his articles. 

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