Thursday, December 21, 2006

The following was recently written on the blog The article was helpful for me and I think it will be for you too.

Not sure if this will work for you or anyone else, but it works for me. Not sure if it has a name, or if I just sort of discovered it, but here's what I do when I have something big to write.

Let's say you're writing a paper on the philosophy of tables. Create a space in your brain (just think it, and it's there) for the project. Tell yourself that that's where all the stuff you know about tables and philosophy should go. From now on, during your life, if you see a table, or something that has to do with the philosophy of tables, it will go there. You might be reading the newspaper, and see something on the philosophy of tables. Boom. You're mind will absorb it. Like a sponge. Like a magnet. Furthermore, your mind will also pull thoughts from within. It will take everything you've learned about tables and philosophy before, and store it there, or at least form a connection to it.

Then put as much as you can into physical form. List all the random thoughts on a piece of paper. Type them out. You can do this all at once if you like. Probably better to keep a running list as you get ideas. Store the ideas on a notebook while you're out and about, and then, when you come home, type them into your computer. Put all the thoughts there and look at them. Let the thoughts spill from your brain, to your fingers, to the screen, then back through your eyes again. Think about it.

After I've attracted a small fleet of ideas and written them down, I go skating. If you can't skate, you might want to swim, go biking, walk, do yoga or taiji, etc. Do something that you're good at—good enough not to think about it. I don't have to think when I skate. My mind shuts off and thinks of other things. My body is in physical control of itself, and my mind can now process all the information I've gathered in quite a magical way. I suppose it's a form of meditation. You want to be able to shut off and tune out. Let your body do its thing, and let your mind do its thing. While skating, I'm listening to music and thinking about the project. The randomness of the road, my body's reaction to the curb, the sidewalk, etc., mixed with the randomness of the music I listen to (I set my iPod to random), acts as a sort of tiller, to chop up and stir up ideas and form new connections in ways that I probably couldn't have got just sitting down at a desk. It's like taking all these ideas, putting them in a food processor, blending them, boiling them, stewing them, etc. After a while, a cohesive flavor emerges which is the sum of its parts, even though all you had when you started was a bunch of vegetables and spices.

Sit down and write and the words flow quite easily.

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