On Writing and Systems
Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“How do you decide what to write about each day?”
“I have a system for it.
I start every day by being creative before reactive. I start every day with writing.
The first phase is playing with ideas. This is essentially free association, mind-mapping style.
I start with something that’s on top of my mind [<link; short read], and/or with some random stimulation, and expand in all directions.”
“What sort of random stimulation?”
As you know, I use quotes as a resource [<link; short read]. In my CommonBook [<link] I have a selection of quotes tagged ‘reflectional‘. These are quotes that stimulate my mind – I call this type of quotes, puzzle quotes. I generate two random reflectional quotes, and use them as a starting point in my exploration.
If I can’t discover my piece for the day this way, I proceed to the second phase: developing ideas.
I have all my writing ideas – ideas about things I want to write about – saved in the CommonBook. I shuffle them (display them in random order), and casually go through them, fleshing them out a little bit more.”
“So instead of going deep on a saved idea, you go wide, developing multiple ideas a little bit.”
We can metaphorically think of ideas in terms of stages of development, like a plant.
Ideas start as seeds.
As you develop them, they turn into seedlings. The bigger the seedling, the more enticing it becomes to write about.
Writing is the process of turning seedling ideas into evergreen ideas.”