Empty Tube

The mind is like a toothpaste tube. If it’s empty, nothing useful will come out it.

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Mood: 7/10 (Not a good time to continue writing.)

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How To Generate Ideas

I recently experienced hard times in filling my urge to write and to satisfy my blog readers and subscribers—assuming that they do exist—need to read fresh post. It has become more difficult lately as I don’t only have time to kill but it seems that from the moment I wake up, go to work and come back home, time itself appears to be staring right at me almost saying, “I’m here Cris, what’s next?”

Once again the reminder: Be careful what you wish for, came in late to be retracted. I’ve wished for blogging time, now it’s all I’ve got. The sad thing about it is that my idea bank may be now reaching saturation point. I think I’ve already reached my writing plateau.

Fortunately, the absence of work at work—the irony—had me exploit some available resources that kept me busy while still maintaining our internet usage policy (wink wink). I previously mentioned in one of my blog posts about SkillSoft Books24X7  and right now I just can’t get enough of it. SkillSoft is one of those brilliant things made available for employee skills development.

Now that I’m done with my explanation and defense, let me go on with some of the things I learned about the writing process.

What I find funny when I saw this material is how I got to it. While trying to keep myself busy one day, I typed MBA on the search field of SkillSoft. A few seconds later I was staring at several ebooks with the word MBA high- lighted. Suddenly feeling overwhelmed by the selection, I scrolled further down and it was then that I saw the most interesting thing I’ve seen so far on that lazy day—Methods of Generating Ideas. Despite wondering why this article can only be found under the MBA topic, I was all eyes on my laptop in no time.

The materials showed the following categories and its suggested methods:

Reading and writing. Obviously, reading and writing are the methods. These after all are why most of us learned about things.  This idea-generating category encourages one to take notes by free writing and making an outline of the desired topic. One tip I find very helpful is that the outline need not even be perfect at the start which I always try to do and most likely the reason why I end up with anything but perfect. The material even suggests forgetting about grammar, composition and correct flow of ideas while still of course at the drafting stage. Correction, it adds, comes during editing and proofreading which contrary to my belief are actually two different things. The former is the term applied to the first phase of refining. The latter on the other hand is applied on the final phase or the read-through.

Graphic.  Not all people work well with words.  Others prefer doodling and I was surprised when I read about it because I avoid doodling as I find it a waste of time. This category employs drawing and sketching of one’s ideas that  could be converted to text later on. I tried applying it and it works as lately my ideas don’t have an immediate word equivalent to it especially if my vocabulary lags for whatever reason.

Spoken.  Besides reading and writing, this is what usually works for me. I like talking especially to those who can converse very well and have so many perspectives of different things. It is during such discussion when my light bulb moments happen. I realize that being one of the most talkative pupil in grade school works for me. I now forgive my teachers and classmates for that frequent demeaning tick mark next to my name for talking in class.

Group. Two heads are better than one, there’s no question about it. In fact, group discussions always generate more ideas…well, especially compared to talking to your own self. It is in this context why brainstorming usually works. Such sessions make everyone feel that their presence in the meeting is important and that their ideas are needed and will be welcomed. This in effect creates a continuous flow of ideas wherein some of it may even be totally out of this world. But then again, remember the familiar phrase “Think out of the box”?

Thinking. Now this last category may sound ridiculous as obviously the writing process does need to be start with a thought – at the very least. Duh! But what made me smile was when I reached the line “think about the subject during unstructured time (such as taking a shower, standing in line and taking a walk).” It didn’t clearly encourage thinking while driving though. Nevertheless, despite being amusing to be considered as a method, I still got some tips out of it.

I now have new methods to come up with more ideas. It is therefore worth remembering and applying the other methods other than mere thinking and just taking notes out of my wild mind. I also now recognize that oftentimes the need to read (stress: read, read, read) or interact with one or more people may be what it takes to have fresh ideas whether I like it or not. At the end of the day what matters most is when all of these are consolidated, selected, refined and written in finality hoping that it will fit the main purpose why the idea was formed in the first place.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks!

Writer’s Block Hits

The most feared writer’s block hits me. I’m beating all the odds just to make time to write and it’s also as if I’ve got all the reasons not being able to come up with a regular post.

For one, there’s the baby who has gotten most of our attention, not to mention suck out our energies. There’s also the mysterious hectic schedule at work—despite the economic slowdown, decrease in demand, people separation, and the upcoming shutdown—that continues to take a large chunk of my time. Lastly, there are also several parties to attend to and the booze that goes with each of it dilutes every blogging ideas and replaces it with a bad hangover.

The irony is that while most of these reasons are sources of overwhelming ideas to write about, everything ends up with a mind full of bright light bulb moments yet none ever gets published. It’s like an intersection of late employees eagerly wanting to drive through it and in the process collide with each other thereby causing a more chaotic and hopeless traffic jam.

But tonight, our baby who has become more energetic and more entertaining with each passing day somehow runs out of steam. It must be the cold December breeze outside or it may be because of the hot bath I gave him. No matter what made him hit the sack early, this is opportunity to write. I’m so desperate to purge those ideas that have been raring to get out of my nutshell.

Writer’s block reminds me of two people. One is Jim Paredes who in his article in the Sunday (Dec. 7, 2008) edition of the Philippine Star wrote Why I Write (also appears on his blog). Another is Saedel Pensoy who I incidentally happen to know after reading his comment on one of Jim Paredes’ blog.

In his article Jim said, ”But sometimes, “constipation” traps the thoughts, feelings and words in the deep bowels of the mind. The more one tries to write, the harder it seems to produce output. And that can be worrisome when one has a weekly deadline…” Then he added, ”And yet, one must write, not because of a deadline or the pay, and not because, like the analogy of the toilet ritual, it can be toxic to keep it all inside. I write because I am one of those cursed people who have been awakened to writing and have been enlisted to do so…

These are my exact sentiments, Jim just had it in writing. Mine became a bad case of writer’s constipation—for the lack of a better word.

Unfortunately, Jim’s recovery didn’t infect Saedel. Just like me, I find Saedel a writer and blogger in progress. When I learned about his site, I kept on coming back to read his posts. And from it I saw how he has improved a lot in almost every aspect of writing. At some point he even decided to monetize his blog and everything went spontaneous from then on. Not until he wrote 10 Drafts and a Focus. When I read it I knew he’s having the most hated writer’s block.  And like helplessly watching a friend die, I soon witnessed its last entry. Currently, the site has become an attraction for spam commenters. I can’t help but hope that he has moved to another blog provider and continued what he does best.

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Time really flies so fast when I’m in front of the PC. I checked and I’ve been here thinking and typing for a couple of hours already. HBO’s rerun of Mr. Bean’s Holiday has ended and another movie is almost halfway through. My second shot of my night cap has evaporated. Good thing that our baby boy is still sleeping. Tomorrow is the start of our two-week vacation and if time permits, I’d sure be glad to blog some more. Maybe.

Marcus peeks
I’ll be right here when you’re done…”

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Mood: 5/10 Honks!