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I Did It In The Elevator

Elevator ProductivityOn most days, I work at my day job in a quiet cubicle on the 27th floor of a 40-storey tower.  While serviced by no less than six elevators, getting around in said tower for client and internal meetings is as much an adventure as it is a massive time sink.

In fact, there is so much hanging around waiting, then stopping at a gazillion floors, that I have taken to making it my social media catchup place.  This is after I finally gave up on dreaming up choice words I would say to the engineer who programmed the elevators, if I ever meet him or her.

So standing there, nodding politely to strangers and co-workers sharing the glass cage, I would tweet, I would Facebook, Like, and comment away on stuff, going up and down, occasionally glancing out at the city sprawled below.  Even traffic can look beautiful when you’re above it.

Then, I had a revelation.

If I can tap away single handedly on my ancient iPhone 4, why not use the time and tapping for something more than just social media? What if I used it for creating, rather than consuming, content?

After all, I’ve fallen behind my self-imposed goal of publishing an ebook a month.  If I must be honest, I have fallen behind by, ahem, FOUR months.  So any push, no matter how small, would contribute to getting me out of this paralysis of sorts, and into highly prolific production mode.

True, it’s difficult to blurt out a gripping epic in distracted spurts, in between shuffling in and out of elevators.  But if I already have a writing prompt in place, then it should fairly straight forward to crank out a paragraph or two.

I liken it to having a drawing all done up in pencil, just needing to be coloured in.  If my outline is detailed enough to already have a sentence or a phrase as a place holder for a paragraph, then this should be definitely doable.

There I was, mulling over this crazy plan in my head, waiting for the elevator and surfing one of my favourite Facebook Kindle groups, when Steve Scott suggested a monthly word count challenge, preferably towards creating a Kindle title.

You know me and challenges.  I simply can’t resist them.

So, early this morning, I retrieved my dormant ebook ideas notebook on Evernote, and scanned it for something I could knock out in about 10,000-15,000 words, with the following caveats:

  • Must be a subject I know well, and therefore doesn’t need an awful lot of research
  • Must be something I could serialize, preferably as a three-book series
  • Must not need lots of screenshots or images, but be mostly text
  • Is targeted to Moonpreneurs like me, who have little time leftover after a fulltime job and running a busy household with even busier kids
  • Must solve a problem

I decided on a productivity series aimed at multiple-hat-wearing non-fiction authors, solving the problem of fitting writing in between other activities, with the knowledge that nice, uninterrupted chunks of time will not materialize any time soon, nor will they materialize while sitting in an inspired, light-drenched writing study.

Drawing on my project management, business coaching and application development background, I decided on the key topics for each of the three books (three!!).

Then, in between floors, right there in the elevator, I quickly outlined all three books, using my tiny iPhone and PlainText, an iPhone app that plays nice with Dropbox.

The best part?

I don’t need to be at my desk – home or otherwise – to crank out content, to complete that elusive first draft.

I have each key concept separated out as a single, tiny text file, which will eventually become a subtopic.  I can work on each of these sub-topics, one paragraph at a time, whether in the elevator, pitch-side at my son’s football match, or while patiently parked outside my daughter’s ballet studio.

The beauty of this tool mashup that is  Scrivener, Dropbox and a smartphone (Apple or Android) is making this possible.

Watch this space for details of how I set up my elevator “system”.


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