During second draft of my work-in-progress, I was only editing one scene a day. I felt mentally exhausted after just one scene, but progress seemed too slow. So I asked myself, could I edit two? How was I going to double my output?
A book I read recently, Self-Made Success by Shaan Patel, talked about a phenomenon known as Parkinson’s Rule. It basically says that the time it takes you to finish a task morphs to fit the amount of time you give it. Got a week to write a chapter? It’ll take you a week. Got a day? It’ll take you a day.
In wanting to edit two scenes a day instead of one, I was basically working with a variant of Parkinson’s Rule. Got a scene to edit today? It’ll take me a day. Got two scenes to edit today? It’ll still take me just a day.
Creating a Mental Model
By the end of editing just one scene, I felt mentally drained. I’d invested myself in that scene, and my mind wasn’t ready to move on to a new POV, a new character, a new set of problems. But darn it, I wanted to edit two scenes a day.
So what did I do? I used a tactic I learned about in another book, Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg. I created a mental model–a picture in my mind of what was going to happen. I told myself that when I finished the first scene, I was going to allow myself up to a few minutes to simply breathe and detach from that scene. Then, without getting up from my sofa (where I often write), I was going to dive right into the next scene.
How Well This Worked
Nine? How did that happen? Actually, it wasn’t that hard. By the end of a scene, I saw that I still had time available on the clock. I would then visualize my mental model: me taking a breather, then charging into the next scene. And before I knew it, I’d gotten through nine scenes in a single sitting.
Are you bottling up your own potential? Could Parkinson’s Law and mental models help you double your output, or better?