Why Planning Ahead Seems Essential To Get A Natural Result


Wednesday, 9.02pm

Sheffield, U.K.

It takes a lot of effort to make something look effortless – Ben Mitchell

I’m not entirely sure why, but I’ve been binge-watching The Grand Tour on Prime for the last couple of weeks.

And the presenters decided to do something interesting in the last show I watched.

They were getting angry letters about how the show was too scripted and why couldn’t they just do things off the cuff and keep it natural.

So they did.

And it was rubbish – which was the point they were making.

Without the planning and preparation the big scenes that we’re used to just didn’t happen.

And without the scripting, the presenters couldn’t think of good lines to say and fumbled on camera.

Now, this is obvious, you say.

But it’s a difficult lesson to learn for those of us who dislike planning and order.

Those of us who prefer a more fluid and organic way of doing things.

But when you dig into it the chances are that what you consider fluid and organic has an underlying structure so much a part of you that you’ve forgotten it exists.

Like bones and muscle.

Take writing, for example.

Almost every writer will tell you that the process of getting better is never-ending.

You never feel like what you’ve created is finished or complete or done.

It’s done when you’ve given up trying to do any more.

It’s done when you abandon it.

So what most writers focus on is not on results but on process.

I have a process, for instance, when I write these posts.

I write everything using the terminal – the command line.

I first do three paragraphs of freewriting, using the ed text editor to get my fingers moving.

Then I do some research, look for an idea that grabs me.

Then I sketch the idea – trying to find a way of approaching it as a concept.

And then I open emacs and org-mode with org2blog and let the words fall out.

I try and write every day so all this needs to happen in an hour or so – so it can’t be hard and painful and unpleasant.

This process helps me get 300-800 words on the screen that help me work through a problem I have or understand something new.

Then it’s time for a quick spell-check and then publish.

And the beauty of the Internet is that if there’s a mistake you can just correct it and republish.

If you had more time, what would you do?

Would your words be twice as good, twice as clear, if you spent twice as long?

Or would it be better if you spent half as much time – getting the process tuned as well as you could?

In a world with infinite possibilities, a plan is a route for you to follow.

The thing we need to get clear is that it’s just one route.

If it doesn’t work you can try another.

It’s the trying and learning and trying again that gets you to the point where what you do looks effortless and natural.

You don’t run out of time to have another go.

Until you finally do.


Karthik Suresh

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