Last Friday a colleague and I were trying to finalize a video script. It was 3:00 p.m. It had been a long week. We were a little low on creative juices. A dear Interactive Producer–who is very skilled at getting stuff done–stopped in. We informed her we were going to tag-team the script over the weekend. No more than an hour each or so. She asked, “Why wouldn’t you just put your heads down and get it done now?” My colleague and I looked at each other, and I know we were both thinking the same thing because we are writers: No. That would be…impossible.
We needed to be weird. We needed to put the piece down for a little while and come back to it with fresh eyes. If we’d had a Friday deadline, we would, of course, have made it work. But this was an internal project, and we had some wiggle room, so we took it.
I’m on the Content Strategy team at Unboxed. Last spring someone suggested we start a book club. I’m pretty sure the purpose of the book club was professional development. Team bonding was probably in there, too. I think I momentarily blacked out because it sounded like more work. Anyways, once a month, we’d have a team lunch and talk about the book. I think when you do work book clubs you’re supposed to choose books like Blue Ocean and Who Moved My Cheese? Well, so far our picks have been The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and the David Foster Wallace essay E Unibus Pluram. This is why I love us.
I tried to pick an excerpt from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People because our COO told me I needed to read chapters 4, 5, and 6; and it was actually really helpful. I’ve honestly thought about tattooing “Seek first to understand, then be understood” on my wrist. However, the writer in me just couldn’t allow such an obviously helpful selection. Hence, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
We inevitably choose things that don’t have an overt correlation to our work because we want to get way, way outside of ourselves and see the world through other perspectives. We want to see how other writers use words (and visuals) to entertain, instruct, and compel. In doing so, we explore new approaches to problems. We practice facilitating open-ended conversations that allow us to think critically and make connections to our work.
Yes, we do end up making connections to our work, because we are writers, and we can’t help ourselves.
This morning a few of us met to talk about an upcoming Factory Day. On Factory Day, we put our normal work on hold for eight hours and shift our focus to important projects we need to tackle as a team. Factory Day should yield new efficiencies and product concepts or allow for some serious administrative work to get done. If we did a Factory Day in my household, we might replace the gutters, stain the side deck, and get all the photo albums in a good place. Anyways, our excellent Interactive Producer was helping us prioritize our projects. (Because we’re writers and we have waayyyyyy too many ideas for one day.) So one of the ideas on the list was free-writing exercises. She asked, “So, what’s the output of that?” What’s the output of that?! Ha ha, I love it. I love how the value of free-writing has always felt so intrinsic, and I love that I work in a place where I can make a business case for it.
I’m thankful for all the nerdy, pun-lovin’ word people around me. You guys are awesome.