Having had many false starts in the past to get my blog up and running again, I realized that I kept getting waylaid by the same problem of a lack of energized, stretches of time. Either I’ll have energy to get something written, but it’s just a tiny chunk of time – barely enough to finish anything, or I’ll have an entire stretch but it’s better used recovering my energy instead of bleeding out words on the screen. So I end up with a number of half-written drafts, or nothing at all. I used to never have to bother with this obstacle until school and work started. Travel time, fixed schedules, and multiple objectives fighting for attention in my mind makes it terribly challenging to keep up a consistent habit of word-production.
Yet I am quite sure that there are many writers out there with schedules 10 times crazier than mine, but they manage to freakin’ publish novels (e.g. lawyer, politician, and author, John Grisham). So there must be a way to grow reasonably good content in a consistent manner, busy or not!
Here is a method that’s worked for me thus far: seeding!
What is seeding? Most of us don’t have the luxury of growing our own food. But the concept of farming has lent us timeless metaphors that can empower our productivity. For one, a farmer doesn’t simply plant one seed and wait for it to grow – that’s a gross misuse of land, time, and potential. What farmers do instead, is to scatter many seeds over a large area, letting the ones that do grow flourish in great numbers when they do. Likewise, jotting down idea-seeds in fair enough numbers will give us more avenues of success; I usually start with at least five (too many can choke the ground too).
To create your plot of seeds, get a sheet of paper or empty word-processor page, and turn-off your inner critique (well, not too much, just by a bit will do)! Now, just spit out a couple of potentially valuable ideas, and summarize them under 10 or so words. It’s important to keep it short enough to prevent not get sucked into any single idea, but long enough to remove unnecessary ambiguity and shape your direction. Stop when you have 5 or so seeds (the number depends on your ability to manage and juggle ideas). Voilà, your first plot of seed-ideas!
But sometimes just ideas alone aren’t enough; what I do is to expand each seed, and from there, outline a very basic structure to guide my thinking. These structure-points are also seeds in themselves – their emptiness begs to be filled, the words are content-magnets in your mind, and with enough time for incubation, it will attract the raw material it needs to grow. As you continuously return to these points over time, the empty page tends to fill itself up, guided by your structure-seeds.
So what you can try doing after your initial stages of seeding, is to tease open each of these ideas a bit, and pull out a few areas of interest that you can explore and elaborate upon with regards to each seed-idea. Sometimes the elaborative structure is sequential in nature e.g. first do A, then B, then C. Sometimes it’s thematic in nature e.g. what is seeding? And sometimes it’s a debate e.g. A vs B. There are virtually an endless number of forms that can tickle your fancy; choose one that can carry your idea across most effectively and interestingly.
Whatever it is, these forms are the structure points that you can begin to work with. For instance:
What is seeding?
Explain the need to seed
Explain how to seed
Elaborate on the mechanics
Already you can see that guided structure can inspire you to start building content around it. Just like a seed, you need to give yourself time for the content to grow (unless it’s an idea that’s been in your head for a long while, bursting at the seams for want of expression!), so be patient. You may realize that the day-to-day experiences of your seemingly mundane moments of life may start to become fertile collecting grounds for your seed-ideas. That’s when you need to return to your plot of land and begin jotting down points under your structured form. Behold, they grow!
You may discover by now how reliable these seeds can be. You don’t have to finish your entire writing-piece in one sitting, or return to it only to learn that you’ve forgotten what it was that you initially were excited to write about. With all these structured idea-points written down, you are all primed and ready to write at any time, for as long as the moment affords you; whenever you return, you can just pick off easily from where you begin. No hassle, no undue chunkiness, just streamlined seeds of self-growing inspiration.
The seed-ideas even serve as a form of focus that can channel your thoughts – they frame your perspective and outlook on the world so that you can gleam way more information than you usually would without having these guiding points to help you out. Busy schedule? No problem. These seeds grow almost by themselves; it doesn’t take that much effort to have a quick glance at your idea-outline before starting a busy day. Who knows? By the time you get through that tiring session you might have collected enough raw material to get ’em seeds growing! This can work for blog posts, short stories, novels (with a bit more complexity of course), and whatever your writery-fancies see fit.
So clean the dust off your notebook, and start seeding (: