Wednesday, December 28, 2005

How to solve the drafts problem

My Blogger dashboard has way too many half-baked posts in languishing in the wretched purgatory of "Drafts." I come back to them at times and they never seem to work. I despise them. I get angry at myself for writing them in the first place. Who are these bastard children? These broken ideas, these run-on sentences, these fancy phrases that go nowhere? Do I really write this drivel? Well, yes. Please accept it. The past happened and no amount of present day contempt will solve it.

There is one good thing about these drafts. They remind me that I have not mastered writing as a process, as something to be worked on, labored over, massaged and tweaked and cajoled. They are opportunities to practice acceptance of imperfection, knowing that it can only get better, even if it has to get worse for a short time on the way.

It's funny what this blog has become. Originally, a lofty place for the hottest ideas floating around in my head, it's become more of a notebook of good advice to myself. It's a place to store those rare moments of clarity, the tiny breakthroughs, the small beam of light shining through a crack in the wall of my confusion. Those moments can pass unremembered and unreflected, as so many things in my life seem to do. Or it can be recorded and cherished for days when I need refuge from a dark mood.

Today's lesson is one I must learn over and over, the problem of overthinking. So many things are left trapped in my head, unspoken for fear of not saying the right thing, unwritten for fear of never finishing. So much fear in overthinking. So much denial of reality. Such a stingy hand of thought that will not release the small sparrows of conversation, the bounding rabbits of a fresh paragraph.

Step One in my writing process must be release, must be opening. I'm so good at closing, boxing, defining, that I don't let things escape to take on their own lives. Living such a caged existence, my thoughts sit in their own excrement, breathe in the gases of their own waste and decay. Given some fresh air, allowed to escape into the wild, the thoughts might go on living for a long time, or might be killed by fitter thoughts. But at least there would be a fossil record, a pile of bones, some tracks in the wilderness. Those fragments can be shaped. They can be made new.

Step Two must be a search for essence. "Omit needless words," say Strunk & White. "Om," says the void. Things to put in, things to take out. But it must get thinner first.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Web Grows Faster than Brain

Fresh off spearheading the redesign of my company's website, I'm looking to do the same for another agent in our office. The same only bigger. Much bigger.

So I'm trying to write him an email right now cataloguing some of the cool stuff going on with the web right now like the hottest designers, technologies, etc. -- and I can't access memories of the stuff fast enough. I should be writing posts as I go and just send him links to all of them. Collectively, they'd be my entire manifesto for a visionary new real estate site.

Instead, I've been surfing too much and recording too little. There's no cookie crumb trail through my vast ramblings through the web. The web moves faster than my brain. The only way I can keep up is to blog more.

I know I keep writing posts like this. "Blog more," I say to myself. Write shorter posts, with less editing, less self-censorship. More volume, less perfection. Here's to trying again.