Talking about work is not work

On the danger of talking away our creative energy

The silence is not a solution for your problems

Talking about work is not work.

Meetings are not work, either.

Meetings are a destructive habit that stifles creativity, innovation, and progress.

Moreover, talking about work to be done, or the work/projects/products/companies we’re currently involved in or working to bring to life, expels all of the creative energy we need to actually do the work.

If you spend all your energy talking about the work you’re going to do there won’t be any left when the time comes for you to actually sit down and deliver.

The Paris Review published an interview with Ernest Hemingway in 1958. They wrote the following about Hemingway’s hesitancy to talk about his methods and ideas on writing and his creative process:

“…he prefers not to talk about them, feeling that whatever value they may have can be talked away. He has much the same attitude about writing. Many times during the making of this interview he stressed that the craft of writing should not be tampered with by an excess of scrutiny—’that though there is one part of writing that is solid and you do it no harm by talking about it, the other is fragile, and if you talk about it, the structure cracks and you have nothing.’”

It begs a challenging question:

How much of our creative energy and ideas are we talking away?

How much unseen, unrealized brilliance are we leaking via our own voices?

In the past, I used to share a lot about the projects I was working on or planning to work on. Inspired by this interview, I stopped.

For example, outside of a handful of close friends and family who read early drafts, I didn’t tell anyone that I was writing a book (not even my best friend). The day he and the rest of my friends and family learned of the book was the day Spark launched.

It may seem weird to keep quiet and covet that energy for the actual work. But I can tell you from experience, doing so makes an immeasurable difference. I’m not sure I would have had the energy to complete Spark had it not been for me stumbling across that interview those years ago.

Saving the words truly did save me, my creativity, and most importantly — the work.

It so easy to spill so much water on the way back from the well that by the time we make it home there’s nothing left in the pail for us to drink.

Our creative energy is no different.

It’s a finite and precious resource that should be guarded fiercely.

We can’t afford to waist our creativity, our inspiration, on words about work.

The work is too difficult, too demanding, and too precious to give it anything less than everything we have to give.

Invest yourself in the work, and the work will speak for itself.

🤝 Stay in touch

I send an email several times a year with a handful of the most interesting things I’ve written or uncovered at home, abroad, and on the web.

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