“Mental patterns do not originate out of inorganic nature. They originate out of society, which originates out of inorganic nature. And, as anthropologists know so well, what a mind thinks is as dominated by biological patterns as social patterns are dominated by biological patterns and as biological patterns are dominated by inorganic patterns. There is no direct scientific connection between mind and matter.” Robert Pirsig
Every 8 weeks or so, Ruud emails me that it’s time to send him my latest blog post for SearchEnginePeople. About half the time, I have an idea that I’m ruminating over that I immediately put into play once my deadline is given to me…the other half of the time, I have to figure sometime out “on the clock” for I take my responsibility to deliver a high quality column to SEP very seriously :.)
Astute NBA Fans know that before shooting free throws, Steve Nash (among others) goes through an elaborate pre-shot routine (which might seem strange to some, but the results bear out the value of his technique).
Similarly, I have an elaborate pre-post routine that I go through before commencing my SEP post…
Well, I really don’t. Instead…I let my mind drift hoping it grasps onto a thread of an idea that I can blow out into a post that will make Jeff / Ruud proud of me :.)
I never think “Gee, I’m going to write something about Facebook / LinkedIn / Social Networking etc. Here are the top 9 / 14 / 23 reasons why Twitter / Digg / StumbleUpon will get you career success / eternal salvation / six pack abs.”
Instead, I become hyper-aware of the external stimuli streaming through my brain, grasping for something that interests both me and (hopefully) the audience.
Now, take this post that I’m currently writing as an example. It’s not a particularly unique concept to either write about writing or write about how to write something for a particular purpose. It was only 2 SEP posts ago that I wrote about writing…though I did so in an entirely different context with the emphasis on others in the community rather than upon myself.
However, to write a post about how I write a post using the post I’m currently writing to explain my process for writing a post…I’m not sure I’ve read anything quite like this before (and I’m definitely interested in seeing what I come up with). I’m trying to remember how I came up with this particular concept but I’m failing to remember the exact sequence that led me here (astray).
Here’s one blog post concept where I do remember my “Eureka” moment…I was at an amazing Richard Thompson concert a couple years ago and was sitting through one of many tremendous guitar solos that he did during the set. Suddenly for no discernable reason, the phrase “Remembrance of Spam Past” floated up in my consciousness. At that very moment, I knew what my next post was about and how I would go about doing it…I just had to spend the time to write the darned thing :.)
Now, with my SEP idea decided upon, I need to give it some direction because even a very niche idea can be developed a billion different ways. Each way might lead to a commendable output but without some signposts pointing the way for me, I would not be certain what path to take. At this stage, I seek out introductory quotes and photos to use…because the selections I would make will nudge me towards the exact ideas I’m going to write.
My first idea was to pull the title and introductory quote out of Mott the Hoople’s “Ballad of Mott”…one of the best “personally reflective” songs that I know of. I would then append a picture of Ian Hunter to the beginning of the post. However, the lyrics were too downbeat and too personal to him IMO, so I let that one go and searched for other inspiration….
Any exploration of quotes governing Zen-like concepts must start with Robert Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The great majority of the quotes that I use in posts come directly from my memory (yes, it’s somewhat photographic…though I use Google to check my wording). However, I haven’t memorized Pirsig (and it’s been about 15 years since I read his book), so I needed to Google lists of his quotes to see if I could come up with something suitable to match the concept I’m trying to develop. Fortunately, I hit pay dirt with the first page I visited, which also gave me further direction for the piece.
As for photos, two sources appeared quite obvious to me…the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (though I can’t come up with exactly the photo I want, which would show a “scene” in the midst of a visual transformation) and one of Dali’s “Memory” pictures. Dali actually had more than one famous painting focusing on the concept of memory and I need to make sure to choose “The Persistence of Memory” (fitting my concept) instead of “The Dissolution of Memory” (in opposition to it)…and BTW, I’m a huge fan of Dali.
Up to this point, I still haven’t come up with a title for my post (which is rare because I usually get the title before searching for a quote, or at least simultaneous to it). However, thanks to Dali, I’m able to think up a title that fits what I’ve written…a play on words of the photo that I’ve chosen for the post, adapted to the concept of how my mind works in creating a blog post for SEP.
At this stage, I conceptually know how I’m going to develop my post (though not necessarily the details). I write out the draft, usually in one sitting, as quickly as possible. I’ve learned that my best efforts and ideas come to me stream of consciousness, so I don’t attempt to edit my ideas…I just follow the vibe until the post reaches some sort of natural conclusion. I proofread my work and then hit “Publish”. And, since I reached my “natural conclusion” of this post with the sentence before this one, I’ll stop now.