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Blogging and ripples

Aug 3, 2018

Speaking of thoughts as ripples, writing a blog post is like creating ripples from the pebble of an initial idea. But there are two basic ways to go from the pebble, to the rippled pattern, to the blog post.

One way is to allow the idea to take shape before writing. The pebble of an idea creates a rippled pattern, and once it's formed, you capture it in written words.

But there's another way I like better. An idea comes to mind and you note it on an idea list. The list contains the pebbles, not the ripples. When it's time to write a post, you type as you're considering the idea. As you write, you witness the ripples that emerge. Sometimes, they don't make a clear pattern, you erase some, and throw another pebble in the water. Erasing and re-creating rippled patterns is what makes writing for communication different from stream of consciousness or journal writing.

The reason I like the second approach better than the first is that you're writing while the idea is newest to you. If you do all the thinking before typing, the rippled pattern can be so well-formed beforehand that it feels stilted when you write it. That's okay if I'm writing a formal essay or a professional article.  But for more authenticity, I don't like to record the ideas too long after the ripples are formed.

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Thoughts and Ripples

Jul 30, 2018

When you throw a few pebbles in a lake, you know that a pattern of ripples will appear. But you don't know what the pattern will look like until it emerges, especially if there's a strong water current or some wind blowing. This is similar to what happens when you think about an idea. The pebbles are the ideas you start with -- maybe something someone said to you, something you read or heard on TV, maybe something that just suddenly came to your mind. What's interesting to me is the fact that you don't know what you're going to think until you've thought it; you don't know what the rippled pattern will look like until it's formed.

In a sense, we're the authors of our thoughts. But we're also the observers of our thoughts. It's not easy to notice this. Pause for a moment before your next thought and notice how in the dark you are about the nature of the next thought that will come to your mind. Enjoy the rippled patterns of ideas that emerge. You created them, kind of.

Message in a bottle

Jul 27, 2018

When I started this blog, I'd write quickly. When I was done, I'd press '"publish". (That's the button on Blogger that makes your post appear immediately on the web.) Part of the fun was the low effort it took to get a thought out there into the blogosphere. It was like sending a message in a bottle, but one with a chance of actually reaching a sailor in the internet sea. The internet is big, wide, far-reaching, but unlike the real sea, it's crowded with sailors. You, for instance.

But let me bring this back to the main idea. The fun wasn't just sending a message in a bottle into a big, crowded sea. It was the ease of doing it, and the fact that someone might actually read it. Efficacy with low effort-- a great combination.

Except it became more effortful over time. That's because I started proofreading and editing. I moved  beyond the point of just correcting errors, or fixing the flow of the sentences. I'd start wondering "How would this seem to Bob? What would Nancy think about this?" Someone writing a message in a bottle ("Help, I'm stuck on an island!") isn't likely to waste a lot of time proofreading and editing it.  Maybe that's because he actually has something important to say.  

Like everything else, you've got to decide when to let it go, when to press 'publish' and send it out to sea.