Friday, December 1, 2023

IAN FLEMING'S ADVICE TO WRITERS


NOTE: Before reading this article, refer to the comments below.

Whether you are already a writer or thinking about writing, there's always another writer willing to share their advice about the craft. In the genre of science-fiction, fantasy and horror, Stephen King devoted an audio series to his career in writing and even Ray Bradbury and Guy N. Smith each wrote an entire book about it.

The two statements that seem to dominate are: 1. Write, write, write, and 2. Read, read, read.

One particular writer had his own recipe for success, Ian Fleming, who we all know was the author of one of the most famous series of books ever published -- the James Bond novels. His method was to hole himself up in a hotel room, away from all distractions, where he would write one of Bond's adventures in two weeks. It certainly seemed to work for him.

Without having read this until recently, I do much of the same thing, only at home. And while there is still a distraction or two during the day, being by yourself and aware of the things that can lure you away (and not giving in to them), your output will surprise you.


Genius Creator Ian Fleming Wrote Each of the James Bond Books in Less Than 2 Weeks by Using the 'Rule of Forced Boredom'
A tool for hyper-productivity and success.

By Nick Hobson | November 25, 2023 | inc.com
Ian Fleming, the mastermind behind the James Bond series, had a unique approach to writing -- he employed the 'Rule of Forced Boredom'. This approach, though unconventional, highlights a profound understanding of human psychology, especially in the context of temptation avoidance and environmental design for productivity.

Fleming's method involved isolating himself in a mundane hotel room, in a location offering no distractions, forcing him to focus solely on his writing. This environment, devoid of alluring alternatives, left Fleming with two choices: write or do nothing.

The underlying psychology
The simplicity of this choice architecture is a classic example of 'egonomics', a concept where one shapes their environment to steer behaviors towards desired outcomes. It's a matter of making deliberate choices about one's surroundings and habits to support their goals and well-being. Proper self-management is not limited to one's internal traits and behaviors but extends to shaping external factors that can influence one's productivity. Individuals like Flemming practice egonomics by properly designing their lives and environments to align better with their objectives.

In the realm of social psychology, this aligns with the idea of temptation avoidance. By removing distractions, Fleming essentially reduced the cognitive load required to resist them. This strategy is akin to Ulysses contracts, where one intentionally limits their future choices to avoid temptation. Fleming's method demonstrates an understanding that our environment heavily influences our ability to focus and produce work.


Applications for today's innovators
Today's world, brimming with incessant distractions, makes Fleming's method even more relevant. Innovators and business professionals are constantly bombarded with stimuli that fragment their attention. The proliferation of digital devices and social media means that distractions are not just external but also reside in our pockets, making concentrated work a significant challenge.

This challenge calls for an intentional design of our working environments. Just as Fleming chose a bland hotel room, individuals today need to create spaces, physical or digital, that are conducive to deep work. This might mean using apps that limit social media use, designing a minimalist workspace, or setting specific times for uninterrupted work. The principle remains the same: by curbing the availability of distractions, we enhance our focus and productivity.

Fleming's approach also touches on the concept of 'flow', a state of deep immersion in an activity. By eliminating distractions, Fleming likely found it easier to enter this state, where his creativity and productivity could flourish. This is a state many strive for but often find elusive in a distraction-ridden environment.

Designing one's environment to minimize distractions is a smart strategy that enables more efficient and effective work. It's about understanding one's psychological tendencies and manipulating the environment to work in one's favor.

4 comments:

Rip Jagger said...

Smart and effective. When I read those novels again I'll have a tad more insight into how they came to be.

John said...

I've got a run of the Signet editions tucked away somewhere. Just picked up a used copy of a Matt Helm book and got an inexpensive set of the movies -- they're very entertaining. I was a rabid spy fan back in the day, especially The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Bond.

Dr Hermes said...

This goes against all the biographies and interviews with Fleming himself. He wrote all the James Bond books and stories not in a bland hotel room but in his house Goldeneye in Jamaica. Usually after snorkeling in the ocean right at hand.

John said...

Thank you for the correction, Good Doctor. Now that you mention it, I recall that as well from something I read a long while back. Duly noted. While its still a good suggestion, readers, be advised on the accuracy!