You know the way when you do a proper tidy of an office, bedroom or whole house, you rip everything out, pile it up and then find a way of re-ordering? While doing so you find things you forgot about and you might decide to dump them or find a use for them again?
You then reorganise things in patterns comfortable to you. Adding some new bits to an existing pattern/pile or removing some, merging others and of course then there’s the detritus the remains and you shove that away somewhere in a box labeled Misc, misc boxes are drafts on this blog. Some drafts are 9 years old now.
When you’re done, all is tidy once again but you know that it isn’t 100% perfect but pretty good. The tidying, acquiring, moving is how I see myself putting proper long form blog posts together. Here are some lovely insights on how to distill ideas and find new ones:
These are all kind of linked. Reading the tea leaves, pulling things together.
Shane Parrish’s piece on how he reads and takes notes. Superb quote:
“I’m trying to engage in a conversation with the author.”
And from him again, a collated set of quotes on ways we can gain insights.
Kazuo Ishiguro: how I wrote The Remains of the Day in four weeks. 4 weeks of hell where it seemed he was almost hallucinating at the end. He does point out 1) He had done a tonne of reading before he started off on this journey and was satisfied with the amount he researched 2) After the 4 weeks he had the raw material for the book, not in any way a finished book.
I wrote free-hand, not caring about the style or if something I wrote in the afternoon contradicted something I’d established in the story that morning. The priority was simply to get the ideas surfacing and growing. Awful sentences, hideous dialogue, scenes that went nowhere – I let them remain and ploughed on.
Time is the Secret Ingredient to Writing Great Articles. Thomas Baekdal. Genius. He suggests gathering your data, writing it up, putting some thoughts together and … wait.
By allowing yourself time to reflect on your story, you see things that you hadn’t realized initially. You form connections you hadn’t recognized, and you identify the patterns that you couldn’t see before. And, more to the point, you let the story simmer for as long as it needs to.