What goes in will come out

posted by Jonathan Frei On Saturday, October 10, 2009

My struggle is the beginning, middle, and end. I have a hard time coming up with what I'm going to write about. Once I've figured that part out, I have a hard time putting my thoughts into words. And after I have something down on paper, I have a difficult time accepting that what I have written is of any value.

However, this is my only obstacle to becoming a writer. It doesn't take as much time as I once thought because, it seems, no one is out there trying to write the next Moby
 Dick. It no longer takes 1,000 pages to tell a story or to make a philosophical point about the human condition. I don't know that it ever did, but the way most readers consume information now has changed, and writing has had to change to keep up.

I'm thankful. I have a difficult enough time settling on a topic for a 1,000 word post that will take me less than an hour to complete. I don't know how I would ever be able to commit to a project whose end goal would be a five-pound tome.

This, however, does not provide an excuse for a decline in quality, even though I would be hard pressed to find someone who could argue convincingly that the quality of writing and thought in one of the new releases at Barns and Nobel or one of the books on Amazon's top 100 could even begin to rival one of the classics in its command of the English language.

It would seem that if the scope of the work I am trying to accomplish is so much narrower, and so much shorter, that I'd be able to make up some of the ground in quality. But that doesn't seem to be the case.

How does a writer of a classic think during their writing process? How do they go about developing their story or crafting their sentences? It can't be that much different than today. However, I suppose, garbage in garbage out. I'm sure the classic writers and thinkers had a much healthier diet of reading and information than I have today.

This is an external factor that I feel like I can do something about. There are a lot of messages thrown at me every day. Many marketers are fighting for my attention, and I've subscribed myself to many things that I find interesting and enjoyable, but, if this information diet is turning my stomach, polluting my mind, and hindering my writing, it may be time for some changes.

It isn't realistic, practical, or helpful to pull the plug entirely. There is still the needed flow of input needed for processing, digestion, and good quality out put, but if so much time is taken at the top of the funnel, the second two stages suffer. 

What I need to develop is a more steady flow of information in, time to process and reflect, and written output at the other end. I need to turn this funnel into a cylinder with a fat middle. I actually believe that the middle, right now, is the narrowest part of the process.

Several of my writing, including this one, have begun without proper digestion in the middle. Fortunately, this one has developed into some well formed thought and reflections, and has led me to a few other ideas for posts that I will have to write: How to develop a healthy diet of information; How to develop a good balance between input, reflection, and output; and How to achieve the desired output by controlling inputs. 

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