August Review

This is the newsletter I sent out to my mailing list at the beginning of September. These are some of the things I was thinking about in August.

If any of these topics interest you, and you’d like me to go more in-depth, let me know in the comments!

Why I Need a System

Today’s world is faster, busier, and more demanding than ever; to the point where even Neurotypical people are feeling the strain. But as an Autistic person who struggles with Executive Functioning Skills, without a structure I simply grind to a halt.

It’s taken me years of struggle to realize that I need roadmaps, processes, and systems, not just to “get things done”, but to live my life and engage with the things I enjoy. Building a scaffolding around my goals, my time, and information I gather is a huge investment, but because of it I no longer fear forgetting things, getting lost, or abandoning projects. 

Not everyone needs all this, but surely anyone could benefit from additional support. And for those of us who do need it, finally being able to act instead of just dream is more than worth it.

Structure Must be Flexible

In creating structure for ourselves we must give it the flexibility to withstand change and adapt, or else we’ll find ourselves rebuilding from the ground up every few months.

Structure must be:

  • Shock Resistant: able to absorb sudden blows that would otherwise throw us off.
    • Create buffers when we manage time or finances
      Create a “troubleshooter” or leave instructions for when we’re having off days
  • Adaptive: able to transform and accommodate temporary or permanent changes to work and lifestyle.
    • Define systems and structures at different levels of specificity to allow for alternate interpretations and implementations of the same principles.
  • Future Facing: able to handle day to day tasks while paving the way toward the future we want.
    • It must be able to handle present demands (task and project management).
    • It must be able to analyze how it all fits together and builds the future we want.

The Notes ARE the Work

Writing down, or otherwise expressing and recording your thoughts is work. It’s the act of compressing an intangible thought into something that can be manipulated and communicated to others or to your future self. From there, you can add to it, transform or redefine it, connect it to other ideas, and create something new.

Why Routines are Important for Neurodivergent People

Conversations about Neurodivergent “need for routine” rarely seems to hit on why it’s so essential. It’s most often considered a lack of flexibility or emotional control, but I believe it’s actually a combination of weakness in planning skills, decision fatigue, and stress.

Decision-making is one of the most intellectually and energy demanding activities we do every single day. It involves calling up several pieces of information, evaluating that information, projecting forward in time to several possible outcomes, then deciding on a path to take.

Routines eliminate the need to make decisions before getting to work. All decisions about what, where, and when have been done ahead of time. The path has been laid out and all we need to do is follow it. Less energy spent making decisions leaves more energy for the work at hand. The Need for Routine is a matter of Energy Management.

Building Fiction Writing into my System

Essentialism by Greg McKeown talks about ‘enshrining the essential’ or building routines around the things most essential to what we want to accomplish. Routines or habits take the decision-making out of the equation which makes starting those tasks effortless — and starting is usually half the battle.
I’m looking forward to reading Atomic Habits in the coming months to build on that idea and find a way to really center writing in my life.
But in the meantime, I’m using time blocking to assign time to write, and working on getting my writing into as few places as possible so it’s easy and quick to access.

Stories are Systems

While editing a story a few weeks ago, I was amazed to find how easily I could identify genre conventions for a genre I don’t consider myself to be very familiar with. As I pondered the intuition I was able to call upon during that editing session, I came to the conclusion that ‘stories are just systems’. Stories are complex structures of genre, setting, plot, character, and language. There’s something wonderfully demystifying and exciting about realizing that the more I consume stories, the more I understand these aspects of story, the better I can plan, write, or fix them.

As always, feel free to ask questions in the comments and make requests for future posts here or via my Ko-Fi page.

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