I’m currently writing 750 words in 15 minutes on write.now, so please bare with my stream of consciousness writing. The past few days work logs were not written because I went to walk the camino of Madrid. I see that my mood is much improved after walking, it was just three days, and I took my computer to experiment walking and working. The idea was to walk the least possible, so that I would have time and energies in the evening to put in some work, but in practice it was complicated.

I knew it was possible that I wouldn’t get any work done, but it was Easter break and I was willing to carry dead weight for the sake of experience, no work was urgent. During my walks I sensed a parallel with the visual artist: you could sketch and think a lot, but deep work requires you to be in your studio with a good set up.

Some albergues along the camino have the right combination of requirements: a kitchen, decent seats, nice views where you could stay a couple of days in order to find the silence that deep work needs. My next experiment to try is staying put at a single place for a couple of days to get a small project out of the door, and then continue walking.

The most difficult thing about this set up is that you grow attached to the people you’re walking with. Taking work to the camino would make it a different kind of experience, but I’ve done it enough times to know what I’m losing out and what I’m gaining.

The fact that you have a time constraint (ie I’m staying here for five days) could help you complete your projects in the allotted time. But these are just hypotheses, I’ll have to verify them when I repeat this experiment on a larger scale.

For the past few days I’ve been touching write.now here and there. I can only help but notice I lose practice on the codebase, it’s as if I could load the codebase into my brain’s RAM, and getting proficient with it again can take me a lot of time. But once this is done, it’s a joy to work. You know exactly why things are going wrong. It is during these periods that I’m most productive, and I sense I can fit some cool projects in windows of 5-7 days which can be worked from albergues.

During my walk I listened to some podcasts related to the projects I’m working on. Usually I wouldn’t do this on the camino, but again: mix things up and find what works. I liked it. The receptive part of work (reading, listening, observing, thinking) is easy while on the road. It is the creative part that is a challenge and I’d like to explore more profoundly.

I arrived last night, and after walking some 90Km in three days I was pretty beat up this morning. During the camino I observed that my sleeping habits had gradually deteriorated. They are not bad, but I’m waking up at 9am and by the time I’m at work it’s around noon. I walked with two older ladies who had the habit of waking up very early, so I let them pace me, and I felt the ego protesting “you don’t have to do this, you can start at whatever time you please”, but I simply found it easier to leave the albergue with them.

This gave me the idea: new habits are tremendously difficult to instill on your own. Anybody who had tried to change himself will tell you just how damn hard it is. The use of willpower comes at a great cost to the creative mind, I think. There should be something like “work pacers”: people who work alongside you (on their own thing) but simply have their habits in place so that you may mimic them.

But, like a running pacer, he begins at your baseline and pushes you progressively towards better habits. I’m reminded of a dog trainer I met: she said behavioral problems of dogs are mainly problems of routine. If a dog doesn’t pee when you take him outside, but pees inside the house, notice the time when he pees and take him outside in that hour block. Once he’s peeing outside on his own schedule, move it progressively towards the time when it’s most convenient for you. I found this wisdom applicable to humans too: we often want to force ourself to change from state A to state B from one day to the next, which causes either great suffering or catastrophic failure (or both).

Oh my, this is a very rambling work log I’ve written here. I’ll keep on experimenting with format and constraints.