Are we all too busy to write?

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I tackle the question of whether we’re all too busy to write….

Are you struggling with chronic overload that leaves you too busy to write?

You are not alone. Most of us have way too much to do and less time in which to do it. In a recent blog post, thinker Cal Newport offers some intriguing speculation about why this might be the case. Here’s how he puts it:

The collision of knowledge work (a new thing) with the digital age (an even newer thing) disrupted the professional world, making many office jobs more haphazard and improvisational than ever before. Confronted with this novelty, perhaps our brains fell back to a default answer: do more!”

His speculation arises following a publication of a paper in the prestigious journal Nature. You can read a summary here, but the paper basically suggests that human beings are more likely to favour solutions that add features (i.e. work) rather than ones that remove them. Paradoxically, this preference occurs even when removing features is more efficient.

To me, the fastest and easiest way to solve this problem is to always do writing first. In fact, I didn’t come up with this idea myself. Steven Covey was the person who suggested it with his life-changing principle: Do the important before you do the urgent. I’ve written about it here.

As I phrased it in that post:

“Some people spin a good story about how important writing is to them, but then don’t get around to doing it. That’s why I suggest you do your important task first, regardless of whatever tsunami of urgency is threatening to swamp you.

Stop trying and start doing.”

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