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The Tinkered Mind
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January 23rd, 2021
A desire to write doesn’t always come with an idea. How many countless hours have been spent agonizing over the blank page and blinking cursor? Like any system that creates, it requires an input. We do not magically generate inspiration from no where. All ideas come from some kind of connection between two or more parts outside of ourselves. And the best input for the writing mind is, reading.
This is perhaps the most obvious but under-utilized hack for getting the words to start flowing on the page. The short version of the hack is to just read until you find yourself disagreeing with the author, and then to simply write down why and what.
A second version of this hack is to literally copy out the words of another, and then just branch off once the flow is there. Hunter S. Thompson supposedly typed out the entirety of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald just so that he could know what it was like to write a great novel. But the exercise likely had more benefit than he planned.
Most often though, reading reminds of other things, and remembering isn’t simply a reminder but a connection: between the text at hand and something else. It’s that connection that often hides the kernel of an idea to be explored, written about.
It’s perhaps funny to think that staring at a blank page perpetuates much of the same. Reading nothing means, writing nothing.