EP 149: Combining Creativity and Productivity To Do Great Work With Unmistakable Creative Host & Author Srinivas Rao

Sep 11, 2018 | Creativity, Podcast, Time Management

Tara McMullin is a writer, podcaster, and producer who explores what it takes to navigate the 21st-century economy with your humanity intact. Click here to support this work.

The Nitty Gritty

  • Take a look at Srini Rao’s daily writing routine — from the apps to the systems — that enable him to write 1,000 words a day, every day
  • How creating for one — rather than many — invokes higher quality work
  • Why looking at the long-term view helps you avoid the comparison trap
  • Thoughts on mastering the creative process so that your work makes a lasting impact on your audience, customers, and clients

Srini Rao writes at least 1,000 words a day and yet the majority of them you’ll never read. Why does he write so much, knowing that most of it won’t see the light of day through a blog post, an email, or a book chapter? Srini argues that within that daily practice comes some of your best work… and the essential opportunity to master your craft.

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Using a daily writing system to do the work

“The seeds of your most resonant work are actually created in private. When you’re creating this much in private and you don’t have the pressure to share everything, then you can be selective. I create a large volume of work much of which largely nobody sees.” — Srinivas Rao

Here’s a reality: not everything you create will be great and not everything will be for public consumption. That’s just part of the creative process. But as you dedicate yourself to a daily practice, you hone your skill and thus are more selective about what you do share.

Take Srini for example. He writes over 7,000 words a week and only a small portion of those words become a blog post or an email or a book chapter. But through that process, Srini uncovers some of his best ideas. Here’s a look at his daily writing routine:

  • Wake up at 6 am
  • Meditate for 10 minutes using the Calm app
  • Read for 45-60 minutes. Almost everything he writes that day is inspired by something he’s read… and he only reads out of real books, not Kindle books.
  • Turn on the same techno track on repeat and put on noise canceling headphones.
  • Write in a physical notebook by hand first, then turn on Mac, open MacJournal, and write 1,000-1,500 words, which usually takes 30-45 minutes.

Srini employs this process using the Activation Advantage, a concept from the book, The Happiness Advantage. By reducing the number of decisions he needs to make, he dives immediately into the work. No energy is spent on the steps that need to happen before he can start writing — like choosing a pen or notebook (or even music!) because it’s already planned out.

The importance of creating for one

“When you satisfy your own desires and you maintain your own values and standards — as opposed to letting it be driven by the desire to live up to the expectations of other people — you’re much more likely to create something with emotional resonance, something that’s going to have a lasting impact on people.” — Srinivas Rao

Right now, you can create and share something online in the blink of an eye. Because of it, truly good work is often eclipsed by the stuff that gets all the likes. Despite that, Srini believes in a daily creative process to master your craft.

But it’s not just about the daily work: it’s also about creating something that matters to you and slowly becoming your personal best at it. In Srini’s latest book, An Audience of One, he makes a case for why creating for your own pleasure is essential to a creative and meaningful life.

Executing the creative process

“We live in a really interesting world where you can go from idea to execution in a matter of minutes. Because of that, people’s behavior tends to be driven by the desire for validation and to seek attention as opposed to the desire to master a craft and enjoy the creative process.” — Srinivas Rao

Today, so much is created for the likes and followers. “Just because you can go from idea to execution in the shortest amount of time possible and get that idea out into the world doesn’t necessarily mean that that is how these things should be done,” he says. “When you start to prioritize attention over mastery, we’ve got a real problem.”

Take a look at your current creative process and ask yourself: am I making space to create… just for me? Am I ever honing my craft? And then ask yourself if there’s anywhere you’re giving up your personal joy or passion for the sake of attention in the form of likes, followers, and fans. Is there a way you can start cultivating joy from your work… for you?

Hear more from Srini Rao about the importance of creating for the sake of self-enjoyment and mastery in this episode of What Works.

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