Joss Whedon on “How to be Prolific”

In the snarky world we call the interwebs, you seldom see such a touching and educational tribute:

joss whedon directing much adoHow to be Prolific: Guidelines for Getting It Done From Joss Whedon
by Ari Karpel

The writer-producer-director who made Much Ado About Nothing while editingThe Avengers, and who’ll return to TV this fall with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., knows a bit about “getting things done.” In fact, he cites David Allen’s book of that title as an important guide–even if he never finished reading it.

Few people get things done in as consistent and impressive a fashion as Joss Whedon. His Avengers was the rare superhero movie to break box office records as it garnered critical acclaim. And while he was editing that Marvel-Disney monster, he secretly shot a version of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing at his own house with friends from many of his previous movie and TV projects, including Clark Gregg (The Avengers), Nathan Fillion (Firefly), Amy Acker (Dollhouse), Fran Kranz (A Cabin in the Woods), and Alexis Denisof (Buffy). Meanwhile, he’s the man behind the much-anticipated Marvel TV series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., also starring Gregg.

In other words, get specific. When I asked Whedon to share some tips for being prolific, he had one question: “So do you want to go macro or micro?” I chose micro. Here’s what he said:

Micro is about the moment and it’s about having an idea, or having writer’s block and just trying to get through those moments. For me, it boils down to specificity, knowing exactly what I’m trying to accomplish, because if I have three projects, it’s ‘Oh, maybe I’ll work on S.H.I.E.L.D. or maybe I’ll work on this or this.’ You know, it’s so easy to just get nothing done, but you’ve got to rock a little David Allen out to be able to get things done and break your list down into next actions. And this is true of producing and directing but even of writing. It’s like, Okay, today I am going to figure out this action sequence. Today, I am going to watch a shit ton of other action sequences, whatever it is, but that would be the other side of it after the specificity of knowing. Don’t just say, ‘Oh, I need to work on that.’ Say, ‘I need to work on this element of that.’ Absolutely eat dessert first. The thing that you want to do the most, do that.

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