Editing - with Robbie Swale

Editing, creativity, and when to quit

editing

@Robbie @David3560

Transcript

Craig 0:01
Hello, I’m Craig Constantine, welcome. This is the podcaster community show short conversations that are not just about podcasting because I like to take the scenic route. My guest today is Robbie swale, who’s back for a I don’t know why a second dose of credit and sanity. Welcome, Robbie, how are you this afternoon?

Robbie 0:20
Thanks, Craig. Great to be back. And yeah, I’m pretty good actually, this afternoon. How are you this morning?

Craig 0:27
Yeah, I’m good. It’s kind of gray and dreary, in Pennsylvania, where I am about two hours to west of New York City, is how I always like to say it because nobody knows where I live in Pennsylvania. And it’s been like dry and hot enough for the last two days. It’s been raining. I’m like, This is good. I’m able to mow the lawn soon.

Robbie 0:43
Much the same here actually. So I’m in southwest London. It’s pretty great today. The grass and all the parks turned yellow and brown because we’ve had such little rain and then yeah, we’ve had quite a bit of rain last month but the last couple days has been some good downpours which just feels like a relief. You know in England, we’re not used to it being dry.

Show more…

Craig 1:00
Are you anywhere near Hampton, Hampstead Heath, I’ve been there once. That’s Northwest in there.

Robbie 1:05
Well, that’s what yeah, that’s in the north you can get can get an easy train to the heath when I want to Although mostly because like when you live in a big city. There’s loads of bits that you never go to even though I love Hampstead.

Craig 1:15
Giant patchwork have never been to that block. Anyway, I’m off on a tangent and our time is ticking. The question I wanted to ask you. So if people don’t know, Robbie, set off on a mission, I’d like in February pretty early this year to be on 100 different podcasts. And there’s a whole like if you’re if you just went Wait, what just go to your favorite search engine and type Robbie swale, 100 podcasts, and you should land directly on the article on his blog, if not find one of us. And we’ll get you there. And it’s a neat journey. And there’s a whole bunch that we can learn about that. And he’s been talking a lot about that in different places. And so that’s one like I’m painting a George Surrett pointillist painting freelance. So that’s one.another.is. Your first book was how to sorry, I should know that 10 Off the top of my head, but basically how to get unstuck. So it’s give me the title, the first book is how to start when you’re stuck when you’re stuck. And the second one is behind you, which is how to keep going when you want to give up when you want to give up. And the question that I have. So those are two more points. The question I have is, how do you stop? So like, how to get going, how to keep going, which is sort of like how to get through the hard part. How do you know when to stop? And how do you stop?

Robbie 2:32
Yeah, I mean, there’s two parts of that. One is I’ve been thinking recently, like, I just didn’t really think through my podcast challenge. And also, Craig, thanks for having me back. Because this means this is going to be number 50. I said, we made a joke. Last time we spoke. I’m back at 50. And I plan to come back at 100. Because you made that joke last time as well. If I get there,

Craig 2:51
you can come back at 101.

Robbie 2:55
That didn’t delete you from my list, which is a find another one. So like one of the things I’ve been thinking about recently, I just hadn’t thought through what happens if you appear on 50, even just 50 podcasts in, like you say, like, since the start of the year, and I started a bit late. So it’s a bit less high pressure that I’m halfway through the podcasts with three quarters of the way through the year, two thirds of the way through the year, which has lost a huge amount of content, it’s actually quite hard to manage now, and I feel bad because there are some podcasts that I’ve been on that I haven’t shared, because it’s like too much for one person to cope with. So it’s like, it’s a serious problem is knowing when to stop. My friend Sarah Wheeler has a podcast called or has a tool called the quitting quadrant to like, help people think I can’t rember what the podcast called she’s got one. But it’s like, how do we know when to quit our jobs? Like when is it the right time to quit when it’s quitting the right thing to do. So there’s a part of me, which is like I don’t know when to stop quitting, I should have probably stopped before I committed to being on 100 podcast. But now I’ve got to play this game to the end, but the other side of it to answer more seriously. So those two books are the first two books in a series about the creative process. And the third one is about to come out. And the third one is how to create the conditions for great work. So it’s like in a way, it’s the least part of important part of making something the most important part of making something is that you start the second most important is that you keep going you don’t you don’t quit before you’re finished or before you want to. And then the fight the third most important part, it does make sense that this is the fourth book. The fourth book, fourth book is going to be called something like how to share your work when you’re scared, because that’s where this this practice came from. And I think that the opening page of it is going to be a quote from the French. I think it was a poet Paul Valery probably would pronounced in a French way, not in an English way like I just did. And the quote is something like a poem is never finished. It is only ever abandoned. So there isn’t a stop. There’s for me, there’s just the perfectionist in me right? It’s just like just a time when you decide to abandon fiddling with your thing and let it out into the world.

Craig 4:58
Couple things resonating with me first They’re all give me the name of the woman and the book you mentioned again.

Robbie 5:04
So Sara Wheeler, which I think is W E I L E. R, and I don’t have a book. I don’t think it’s out yet, but the tool is the quitting quadrant. And if people Google the quitting quadrant, they’ll probably get Sarah or the quitting quadrant, Sara Wheeler, you’ll get it. And there is a podcast. So you could also probably search quitting Sarah, into your podcast thing,

Craig 5:24
and you just wanted to make sure people heard it twice.

Robbie 5:28
Try also, I’m trying to wrangle my way onto her podcast. So as in later, you’ll be able to find of course I am. Your where to find it via my

Craig 5:36
Randall on everybody’s podcast. The thing that you were saying about a poetry a poem is never done, but only abandoned or both. Now paraphrasing reminded me of something a quote that I have from James Baldwin, the American writer who said that something to the effect of editing is like You’re never done editing, you just give up when you can’t make it any better. It’s like, oh, this is as good as I can make it. I’m I’m quitting, let that thing. So that seems to me that that’s a sentiment that many different writers are telling us, you know, you and I, that that’s something we should do. And the other thing that resonated with me, when you were talking was, you were I don’t know if most recently or very recently on our mutual friend of ours, named David Reynolds, R E. YNOLD. S for those searching. David has a podcast called lead, learn change when you were on there, and you made a point in their setup. You know, and actually, I’ve lost my train of thought, let’s set up a so long, I can only hold spots. Oh, well, maybe we’ll come back to me. It was a point that you made a podcast that I wanted to pull on. But I really

Robbie 6:50
good point. Let’s just assume everyone can assume it was hilarious.

Craig 6:55
Oh, that excites me. When I have things that I wanted to say when I had five of them. Yeah.

Robbie 7:01
What are we talking about? Abandoning poems and editor and

Craig 7:05
crap? I’ve lost my eyes. It’s a question for my subconscious that will come up in a few minutes. What is what is something that before so before I press record, we were talking about this idea of above or below the line of asking oneself, am I above or below the line? So can you tell me let’s just like you do some talking for change? What’s the line that that question is about and like, unpack a little bit about how you were suggesting people randomly ask themselves that question.

Robbie 7:40
Yeah. So it’s a question that I learned about from Jim Detmer, d th, M. Er and and his colleagues it’s in. It’s in the book, The 15 commitments of conscious leadership by Detmer and his colleagues, Diana Chapman and Kaylee Klump. And if you search commitments of conflict conscious leadership, you’ll get it. And essentially, it’s the idea that we are, we are usually in one of two states, we are either above the line, which is our kind of open, creative social connection state, or we’re below the line. And this is like when we feel like we’re under threat, or we are uncomfortable, or we have a little bit of anxiety and scarcity and fear. And you know, sometimes when people talk about being triggered, I think often they mean like they that something they feel like something has moved them from above the line to below the line in short order. And essentially, the the question that I heard Detmer talk about on a training course I was on once was to set up an app, you can get these apps like mine jogger and remind me. And what you do is you set them up so that like, they will randomly give you a push notification on your device, a certain number of times between certain hours. So you can set it up between 8am and 6pm, to give you eight nudges or two nudges or whatever you want. And then he I think the question he he just suggests, or one of them, I’ve heard him suggest a couple is, it pops up on your phone, it pops up on my phone and a green notification on Android and remind me and it will say like, there’s something slightly different the moment but in this case, it could say, Robbie, are you above or below the line? And the beauty of that is we were talking about it right? Sometimes you’ll get the and I’ll get to the end of the day, you made a similar point. And you’d be like, Oh my god, Oh, my word. I was essentially, you know, maybe you don’t use this language, but I was below the line for the last four hours. And only when you surface and slow down enough. Do you notice that? And only obviously when we notice something like that, can we actively make a choice about what we do with it and how we respond to it. And so if we have an app helping us mean you know, using the push notification for good instead of evil like to suck us into Twitter. Then we get that choice given to us in the middle of the day, maybe even in the middle of I remember it used to happen for me. I used it as a presence in practice. And it has a different vibration on Android to say WhatsApp, so I would sometimes have my phone in my pocket. I don’t do that these days, but I used to even when coaching people, I’d have my phone in my pocket. And if it vibrated with the remind me vibration, even that became a way for me in the moment to just slow down and notice what’s actually going on here. And then again, noticing what’s going on is like, one of the key moves, because once we’ve noticed what’s going on, it’s no longer just happening to us and get that a little bit of choice. So that we can go okay, I have this information now, am I above or below the line? If I’m below the line? I don’t want to, am I gonna do anything about that?

Craig 10:32
Yeah, that’s, that’s a brilliant. That’s a brilliant question. And I so I’m, it’s not CBT, not CBD, not cannabidiol. But cognitive behavioral therapy. There’s a, I think there’s a physical modality where I think at first a therapist would have this you they tap on your leg? Have you ever seen this? I’ve heard about it. Yeah, yeah. And it has something to do with like, the tapping is a physical cue that makes your I’m not works. But my thinking is, it makes your brain go Wait, what, what’s going on there. And that’s enough to give you a change or the opportunity for you to change your thinking. And I’ve also read, and I cannot remember off the top, my head where I got this from, it’s a programming nerdy, you know, jokey thing like, well, what you really need to do is you need to insert an interrupt. So every time you know, habit that you don’t like is about to happen, you insert this wedge, which is like, if habit beginning then, you know, get up and walk around the house or like whatever. And I think there’s a lot of like long term human cultural intelligence about this, like, well, if you don’t want to be doing the same thing you’ve always been doing, you got to do something else. Like, what’s the definition of insanity? Right? Doing the same thing and expecting different results?

Robbie 11:48
Yeah, but it’s, it’s easier said than done. Right. So because if we’ve if we’ve been practicing one way of being, which could be responding in, in a certain way to a certain stimulus for a long time, it’s it’s not nothing to learn a new way of responding to that stimulus. It’s one of the reasons why that pattern interrupt is a good metaphor, that we open up that a little bit of space, there’s a concept that I heard about from Sean Aker, who I read about in his book, he’s a positive psychologist, he calls it activation energy, I don’t think it’s from his research, it’s from something else. But it’s a great thing for if we’re thinking about habits, because you want to raise the activation energy, which is like, basically how much hassle it is to do the thing, right, you want to raise the activation energy of habits you don’t want to have an example of this was I took the Facebook and Twitter apps off my phone, because I didn’t want to find myself doing scrolling. And that wasn’t enough, because I would just go to the browser. And before I knew it, I’d have pressed F Facebook press return. And I’ve been scrolling. So what I did was I logged out of Facebook on the browser. And it turned up that was enough activation energy for me to mostly catch it because I’d hit the Facebook, I do my automatic thing I couldn’t get out of the habit of press F, press enter, and hit the Facebook page and it would say, enter your password. And I’d be like, Oh, I don’t want to enter my password because I don’t want to be on Facebook. So you can raise the activation energy of that kind of thing. And then you can lower the activation energy of habits you do want to have you know, so it’s like, well, like my 12 minute method thing for one of a better example is like if I part of this hassle of writing a blog is the editing thing we were talking about before, right? You could spend a million hours editing your blog, if I take out that we just remember your David Reynolds look at look a joy on Craig’s face. So like the 12 Minute blog, thanks, people who haven’t listened, you know, I got this practice of just right while the train is going on. Right? While the time is going perfect once posted online, having to get it perfect is high activation energy. If you want perfect speech marks, if you want to get your blog on your website, if I make a decision blanket decision, I’m only going to prove these blogs once and that’s part of the practice that lowers the activation energy of the whole thing. But you can also like It’s like going to sleep in your gym clothes will be the other things like Shawn Achor example it’s like, then it’s harder for me not to go to the gym than it is for me to go to the gym. So I have to get out of my clothes and put something else on. It’s like while I’m in the clothes, I might as well just go what what was your amazing thought about David are

Craig 14:16
you actually you actually just did it. This was amazing thought was we had been talking earlier about the poet who said poems are never done. And Baldwin said editing is really hard. And while you were talking to David Reynolds, you guys were talking about editing because your whole origin story of this whole bid method is about like write the thing. Do a quick grammar and spelling check. And then that’s the definition of Done. And you and David were talking about basically abandoning your writing. You guys were talking in the context of books because you both written books. Dave has also written a book which I recommend you download and read not your rubbish, dear listener, go read it. I’ve read it. I love it. Yeah. And the idea that you guys mentioned was when you write a book, it’s this long arc and then at the end, you’re like, alright, well, maybe I’ll just let me just double check the source of this cohort and like there’s this huge Huge hazard of like, oh, well, but it’s like 50,000 words, I guess you can check it again, like you just you can go I’ve not written a book, but you can go back forever and edit and tweak, which is the idea that I have, but I couldn’t follow and then you just did it automatically anyway.

Robbie 15:13
Nice. But yeah, David’s book is great. And we were talking about him. And this pause gives me a chance to just say, Yeah, I love his work. Kind of humble, unassuming man was an enormous level of expertise about education. Yeah,

Craig 15:27
I said something like it’s the What hit the iceberg. seven eighths of an iceberg is below the waterline, I said, he’s like, work to working with him or talking to him as like an iceberg. And like, wow, this guy knows a lot about education. And then you realize, whoa, there’s a lot below the waterline here. So that’s not available, not readily visible. Cool, cool. Yeah, no random stuff. What’s the are you still doing the same 12 minute train ride? Like, I know not to get too personal, I know, you’re moving. So like, what happens when you don’t have a 12 minute train ride anymore, you’re gonna, how are you, that’s

Robbie 16:01
where the, that’s where the 12 Minute method came from. So I used to just right on the train, because like, it was like, it was like dead time. So I felt free and free from the kind of pressures of life, just like I’m already doing some things. That’s why we chose originally the train, like, I don’t need to worry that I should be doing something different. Because I’m already out, it’s like, I might, you know, I can read my book, or I could write a little article. But then I gradually over time, I got the train less and less, because I was doing more and more online work, essentially. So that’s where the 12 minute thing came from. So to be honest, I haven’t written on the train where you can find it, if you go to my website and go to the 12 Minute blog page, I take a picture with each post from where it’s written. And so because I was procrastinate, I was worried I was going to procrastinate on getting like the perfect picture from that day or something. I was just like, I was in a real beat my procrastination beat resistance phase. So I was like, No, I’m just going to take a picture. And people a lot of times, not a lot of times a handful of people over the years have said, you know, your pictures are a bit rubbish, you could at least put some filters on them. And I’m like, the point is, it’s out

Craig 17:02
for reinforcing my decision was good enough.

Robbie 17:05
But so you could probably scroll back through that and find the ones that are read on the train. But most of them these days are written in my flat or in my garden. And so there will be as you say, correct. Fingers crossed. I mean, crazy house moving stories. I won’t tell. But as long as nothing goes unexpectedly wrong, I think we’re about to move to the countryside. So you can expect a different view and people who care can have different view on my on my phone, just finally, no more pictures of that skyscraper across the river to end will have my like, a tree and a field and stuff like that.

Craig 17:37
That’s funny it is. When one you know listener, me, you when one figures out that like, yeah, just ship it, it’s good enough like this is I can just navel gaze and polish the thing forever. And eventually there’s not, you know, that’s the thing about No, one cannot pour any tea into a cup that is full or upside down. Like, you have to like leave room in the cup. So yeah,

Robbie 18:04
I think one way before, if you’re probably if you’ve been to school, in a, in a country, like the one I grew up in, or the one you grew up in, you’ve been kind of taught to try and get things perfect. And that’s how most of us most of the exams work and that kind of thing. And in the real world, that’s a really hard way to live. And it’s a lot easier. Like I spent a lot of time essentially the the blog and stuff. You know, a lot of it is me practicing how to get out of that. So I can do more and have more fun and feel more relaxed about it. And accidentally that turn is some books and stuff. But really that I find

Craig 18:39
I’ve often not often anymore. But you know, in years in recent decades, I find that I was always claiming that I was starved for feedback. And now in hindsight, it occurs to me, it’s like, well, yeah, if you keep all your stuff to yourself, in fact, I think I think there’s a quote or a chapter from Seth Godin in the practice that talks about keeping your work to yourself is I don’t know if he actually says theft, but you’re you’re actually stealing from people by not sharing your creativity. So there’s this thread here, which,

Robbie 19:12
like, it’s, I remember hearing that and being like,

Craig 19:14
oh, like, well, that’s a little painful, but true. Yeah, and it when you’re forced or not when you’re forced because nobody forces you. But when you choose to say, you know, like, here, I made this in his in his language here, I made this. And then people go, you’re like, Well, cool. Now we know it’s not for you. Or like, if otherwise, if you just keep it all to yourself, you’re like, have this greenhouse full like flowers, but nobody can see them because you put a wall around it all and you’re just like, Yeah, this is, which is okay. If you want to just write for yourself and keep things in a drawer forever. But if you want to be a writer, or if you want to be a podcaster like I’m doing or you want to be a blogger, you got to hit the ship. You got to press publish, you got to hit done.

Robbie 19:53
Yeah, it’s funny. I thought what you’re gonna say is you didn’t get feedback because you’d spent too much time perfecting it, which I had never really thought about. For but, you know, I bet part of the reason like, you know, you’ve got two choices, how many you can kind of send something out that’s in perfect. And then you can expect some then the space for people to give you feedback. But if you spend two years, making sure a blog post is exactly perfect. And it’s no wonder that we don’t get much feedback, right. So that’s one thing I caught. And the other way is that that stealing thing, I wrote a piece about this once because it’s so I think it’s going to be in might be in that share your workbook, actually, it might have fallen within the timeframe of that. But it’s really powerful to think about that. And what I feel like I’ve learned is like, like, I remember my one of my favorite bands, when I was growing up is the British rock band Oasis, and they broke up and then the songwriter from that did his own thing. And he released one album, but he said he had two albums ready, because it’s like, he left the band. And so suddenly, there’s this rush of creativity. He wasn’t, he wasn’t constrained by what didn’t fit in. So he did one album, and he said, there was another one. And then, by the time six months have passed for the record company to say it’s okay to release another one. Now, he changed his mind. He said, it didn’t fit and it wasn’t worth it. And when he did that, I was just like, it’s called No, Gallagher. I was just thinking, No, you’re wrong. I everyone, people like me really want to hear that you’re a bad judge of what should come out. And I hope that one day, imagine that one day someone will leak that album. You know, my favorite author died and after he died, is a novelist called David Gemmell after he died. 10 years after he died, they released two books, one that was written in a pseudonym and out of print and one that they’d found. And it’s like, it was amazing. Now I know why they why he didn’t publish that one because it wasn’t as good. But it was a true gift for people like me, you haven’t had a book of his for so long to get to read in. And so there’s a again, there’s a chapter there that you can Google this piece, but if you want just it’s called the Lost Relics of our art or something like that. But it’ll be a chapter in the share book. Because it’s like, such a shame to have all these these like on the shelves in the back of our minds or folders in our computers, all these things that we’ve kept back because they’re not perfect, or because we think they might not be right and just we never know who who will be changed by the things we make. And yeah, like, I want to hear that. I’m gonna add that David Gemmell book came out I want to hear the knoll Gallagher album. And I’m glad that the internet means someone or someone will leak it at some point, which is great, open sooner rather than later. But yeah, we TAS I’ve loads of stories, don’t worry about what is what’s okay to release. And I don’t think my experience of writing is I never really know what I write which of what I which of the things I write will be impactful for people I’m sometimes quite wrong about. Sometimes I read ones I think are quite dull. And people really liked them. And sometimes I read ones that I think are amazing, and no one likes them.

Craig 22:49
Crickets. Exactly. Well, Robbie, as much as I always hate to say it, we got to stop talking at some point. I think that’s a great place. It’s a great thing to end on people to think about. So as I probably said, the very first time we talked Hey, it was really great to get a chance to talk to you for 20 minutes. And thank you so much for taking the time.

Robbie 23:09
Total pleasure, Craig. Thanks for having me back. And I’ll see you again. Hopefully,

Craig 23:14
I’ll see you for one-oh-one.

Robbie 23:15
I’ll try you for 100 and then you’ll say no and we’ll have to have to do 101 podcasts.

1 Like

Love that it’s out, @craigconstantine - and great to shout out @David3560… David, have a listen to find out what we REALLY think of you :joy: