Whedon sat down with Co.Create to lay out how he manages to juggle so many projects. His secret? Identifying concrete steps, friends, and tough love.
ROCK A LITTLE DAVID ALLEN.
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…”
REWARD YOURSELF EARLY AND OFTEN.
“I have a reward system. I am the monkey with the pellet and it’s so bad that I write almost everything in restaurants or cafes [so] that when I have an idea, I go and get chocolate.” He doesn’t wait to flesh out the idea and then reward himself, he rewards himself simply for having the idea. “I’ll write it down and then get some chocolate. I have the idea, I get my pellet … I mean I’m terrible.” I don’t put that on the list because that’s not advice. That’s something I’m seeking help for. It’s a vice and it’s different than advice.”
FILL THE TANKS
"The last piece of advice on that level is fill the tanks, fill the tanks, fill the tanks. Constantly watch things and things you don’t [normally watch]. Step outside your viewing zone, your reading zone. It’s all fodder but if you only take from one thing then it’ll show."
ENLIST YOUR FRIENDS.
To have that flow of creativity within a friendship so that it feels like it’s spiraling upward and not just circling. It’s not just like, ‘And we meet and we play fantasy football, and then one day we’re old.’
EVERYONE NEEDS SOME TOUGH LOVE.
"This comes from Kai, my wife, who produced the film. She [quotes from] Rio Grande: ‘Get it done, Johnny Reb.’ It’s like, don’t make excuses. There aren’t any anymore. If you’re talking about it, you should be doing it and she doesn’t like to see talent go fallow. She doesn’t like to see people repeat themselves. She likes people to get it done, purely out of love of the person and then joy for the product itself. And that’s the thing: I talked about Much Ado for 10 years and it was Kai who finally said, ‘What if instead of talking about it … ’ and I went, ‘What?’