I happened to tune into today's (6th February) "Thinking Allowed" on BBC Radio4 to hear Laurie Taylor discuss attitudes to craftwork and skill with sociologist Richard Sennett author of The Craftsman and Grayson Perry artist and potter. I've downloaded the podcast to listen again.
It struck a chord with me as I have just completed writing a piece with a brief:
"to share their [the authors] opinions and knowledge as part of an article series, which considers the experience of transition within the context of the creative and cultural industries. Individual articles will focus on rites of transition within the sector - such as employment to self-employment – as well as theoretical and practical responses to challenges arising from change.(750 words)"
and the piece had to be submitted by the end of January.
The start of December found me deciding to write about the new roles necessary, in organisations of whatever size, to drive up the levels of creativity and the skills needed to underpin their continuing survival and growth. I used Visimap (reviewed here)as the tool to allow me to flit about as ideas, phrases, quotes, etc. occurred to me and by Christmas Eve had a presentable draft based on this map:
Just one challenge- it was about 1250 words long! Still let the words stew over the break and I'll see what comes to me by the New Year.
So getting back into the swing of things on 7th January I found an email chiding me for not submitting my piece on time and giving me a revised deadline of 11th! Panic....sit down and start ruthless editing. Does this sentence add to story or is it waffle? can I find duplication? Can I find a shorter more succinct phrasing? By Tuesday lunch I had a final draft that I was comfortable with ...and (this is a first!) 750 words long. Emailed it... then checked email ... one from commissioning organisation apologising... I am in second wave of requests that don't need to be in until end of month.. Hey! i am ahead of schedule! A few days later I get a request to delete the "What do I mean by" branch and expand my description of roles... this results in a map that looks like this:
Now 753 words long! About a week later I have a telephone discussion with the managing editor and she asked me to put a paragraph or two in justifying the logical development of theses roles to inspire the two reader groups... new graduates starting their careers and leaders in industry responding to the need for change. I said " No way I can do that in 750 words total!". She replied " No matter, we have learned a great deal as we developed the brief from our client!"
Two hours later I had revised the start of the story to reflect its potential readership
The third and final map looks like this:
and has 991 words!
So what has this to do with "Thinking Allowed"? Well during the programme they talked of the instant culture leading to a down-skilling of people as they are not prepared to spend the 10,000 hours honing their craft (which equals a 5 year apprenticeship). Skill, they say, is being equated to a procedure where we can tick the box
rather than an ongoing process of doing 'x' better. Acquiring a skill is different from mastering one when one feels comfortable and fluid with their use.
Well although I am an engineer and designer by profession my competence comes from skillsets that are adjacent to my original discipline (mechanical engineering). I have used Visimap for years having been introduced to mindmapping at a time management workshop around 1987... here is a mindmap to plan out work priorities in 1995.
...and I have steadily expanded uses for it, such as project planning.. linking Visimap to MSProject, presentation storyboarding linking to Beyond BulletPoints technique.
As Richard Sennett puts it " Look, question something in particular, acquire adjacent skills to make it happen"..."skill building lies in the gap between thinking and doing."
So In spite of the excitements of creating a 750 word thought-piece it was my long use and play with tools that enabled me to deliver.
The link to the article is here [insert when published].