Wednesday, February 1, 2017

How I Come Up With What To Write

I once was asked how I come up with the topics for these musings which you have all been so gracious to take the time out of your day to read, and let me tell you, there is nothing particularly laborious about it, other than the fact that where I differ from you is that when I have some prevailing thought enter my brain while doing something like walking, riding my stationary bike, brushing my teeth, etc., while you may laugh a little at your interesting thought and move on with your day, I am forced with the chore of either having to find something to write with, grabbing the nearest laptop, or as happens most often, quickly pulling out my pocket screen and typing out the idea into a memo application or self-addressed email.

Case in point, just a few minutes go, I was riding my stationary bike and in popped to my head the idea that if one person is wondering how I come up with these topics, then maybe more people are wondering, and maybe I should write a musing that explains how I come up with all these ideas. Luckily for me I had just finished writing a musing that came into my head while reading a newsletter and still had the laptop nearby.

So, as you can see, it is a pretty easy process. I go about my day and while my mind is occupied doing something very routine, all of the sudden, an idea pops in my head and I record that idea via some means as quickly as I can. This is a must because nothing is worse than losing one of these ideas when I don’t react quickly enough. I am assuming that everyone out there has these ideas pop in their head, too, but because I write for a living, my first instinct is to turn those ideas into a written piece. If I were a painter or cartoonist, maybe I would turn these ideas into paintings or some funny drawing. Thank goodness I’m not a sculptor because the ideas just come too quickly for me to actually sculpt them all in a lifetime!

If I have the time right then and there, like on a night or a weekend or while watching TV, a lot of times I can just grab the laptop and belt out the entire article in one fell swoop. I write as far as the words take me and then will go back to beginning, read what I have written and repeat – read then write, read then write, read then write – until the piece is done. I then save it, set it aside and edit it a few days later until it is ready for you to read. Sometimes I have to revisit a piece multiple times for it to get there, and sometimes, like Mozart (just using him for reference, not comparing), I write one draft and it’s ready to go. If I’m on a walk, at an event, or doing something that does not allow me to actually write at that time, I usually will record the idea and them come back to it when I can. Sometimes it seems having to revisit the piece later to actually write it hinders the quality of the piece, but such is life, and other times it seems the exact opposite is true – some pieces are better after being revisited and rehashed multiple times. It really is a case-by-case basis.

Either way, I try to get these musings out of my head and down in words as quickly as I can. And like any artist who tries to keep up the appearance of a regular production pattern, I tend to store these and let them go a little at a time. The marketer in me wants to keep you looking for these pieces, not getting bored because I put one out every single day. And don’t be fooled, while sometimes I have an excess hoard of these pieces sitting, waiting to be let free, other times I am trying hard to think of an idea because it’s been a while and the reserves are running low. I can end up writing three musings on a single Saturday, and then, there will be none for a week or two. It definitely is very feast or famine at times.

Either way, I will say this: I can easily explain that the ideas come, but I cannot explain why or how they materialize. And while I can also explain how I keep my notes and how I manage producing, storing, and releasing these musings to you, I definitely cannot explain how each of these words appear on the screen in precisely the order I need them to explain my thoughts. I can only describe it as a flow – I have to sit down and type and try to keep up with the words that are appearing in my brain, especially when it is one of the pieces that flows all at once, just like this one did, in all of about ten minutes or so.

I believe how the words materialize and flow from my brain down on to the page are what scientists refer to as the spark of intelligence – not the smarts kind, but the ability to think and reason kind. And since we have been trying to explain how that works since the dawn of humans, I will save you from us trying to figure that out here and now. Just know that it is something magical, and regardless of its origins, we should all endeavor to cultivate this capability in all of us, all of the time, whatever that capability might be.

So, there you have it, loyal reader; an explanation of how I come up with the ideas for these musings. And yes, I have been peddling away on the bike this entire time. Now to shut down the laptop, close the lid, keep peddling, and wait for the next idea to materialize…

Photo by Nikolay Frolochkin via Pexels

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