Why I'm Slow

The much-anticipated Episode Three of This is Not a Conspiracy Theory is now in production, but it will be a while before it's released. In the meantime, I thought I'd offer a bit of explanation as to why the process is so slow.

The world of media is now fast and I am slow. And because it's fast, media is plentiful. Most of you probably don't have time to read, watch or hear everything of potential interest to you. Platforms serve us up vastly more than we can consume, and they reward fast, prolific creators.

I have tried to be fast and prolific and I've never pulled it off for more than a burst. I once thought this was a fault of mine, but I very slowly came to realize that deep down inside, I just don't care. I honestly don't value fast. I get little pleasure from getting something out the door, I get pleasure from making it as good as I can and then trying to do better the next time. And this is also the kind of work I most enjoy reading, watching or hearing: dense, laborious, distilled down to the best it can be.

I try to work in four distinct areas at a fairly high level: research, writing, audio and video. On a scale of one-to-ten, I aspire to hit eight in each of these realms.

I have some help with research but the majority is still me, and the writing is almost entirely me. I have an increasing amount of help with video production, but again, it's still mostly me. My wife and I collaborate on music production, but the rest of the mix is all me. It's a lot of work to get each of these domains to that level, but as soon I hit eight, that's it – I move on. I could always labor more to get past eight, but at that point, time concerns win out.

Not only am I slow, I'm inefficient. I do a lot of research – often in realms in which I know little – and then I don't use almost all of it. I read loads of books and articles and watch loads of films, and most of it doesn't directly get used in the writing. It's like panning for gold – I only keep a few tiny nuggets of what I scoop up. The ratio looks a bit like this.


Having said all this, time and scheduling is a top concern and I'm always trying to make improvements. But it's a secondary priority. At the top is quality and when quality conflicts with scheduling, quality mostly wins.

I don't think everyone should make slow, inefficient media, and I certainly enjoy plenty of media that isn't. But I don't keep any of it, I don't value it over the long haul and I don't return to it. It's made fast and I use it fast. It's the things that are made slowly and with a lot of care that matter most to me. And that's the kind of work I aspire to do.