Thinking Out Loud (In Writing)

As readers of the site probably know all too well by now, I’ve been a bit stuck on the possibilities of smart watches lately (fear not, this is not another post on that subject). The fact that I couldn’t keep myself from writing three posts on a subject in the span of a week is not unheard of for me but not all that common either.

This seems to be happening more often lately. When I find myself in this kind of a rhythm, I force myself to question why. I take a step back to try and break the cycle. Before moving on, I pause to question and attempt to share why it happened.

I fell into this type of cycle as I was working on The OmniFocus Setup and now again with the iWatch. For a moment I worried that this was a sign of lazy writing, but then I realized that it’s just as likely incomplete thoughts working their way towards a conclusion.

There’s a temptation to say things once. To take an idea, work on it in secret until it’s ready and then share it with the world. Another approach, one I wasn’t even aware that I was doing, is to write on a theme in order to determine what it means.

With OmniFocus, the time spent summing up how I use the app and where I’d suggest getting started helped to voice a concern with how our interest in productivity apps affects others. With the watch, I had to work through my fascination with the reality of the Pebble and the possibilities of the iWatch in order to see that my real interest is how this might impact my industry.

Could I have worked harder and worked on these privately until I figured out what I really wanted to say? Of course. Am I glad I showed my work along the way to figuring out why I found myself obsessing? Yes.

To some extent, all blogging is thinking aloud, but every now and again it’s good to remember that writing shapes your thoughts as often as it lets you share them. We write to share what we know, but don’t overlook the value it holds in figuring out what we believe.

When you find yourself in this kind of a writing cycle, don’t obsess about breaking it, just figure out where it’s trying to take you. If you’re not sure what you’re really trying to say about a subject, but believe it to be important, share what you know. Then talk about it with others and continue to write until you figure out what you mean. Throughout The OmniFocus Setup event, I was talking to others about the app while considering the comments on my earlier posts. While writing about the iWatch, I had more than a few disagreements (mostly with Harry Marks) about its relevance. These interactions did as much to help shape my conclusions and break the cycle as the actual writing did.

There’s value in knowing exactly what a writer feels about a subject, yet there’s just as much to learn by watching them figure it out through their work.

Show your work, it’s often as interesting as the outcome.

One Response to Thinking Out Loud (In Writing)

  1. We already know where I stand on this idea, don’t we? Writing’s how I process things. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like it when writing is viewed as though it’s set in stone. It’s not. The writer can change his or her mind. The writer can circle the topic as often as he or she needs.

    Fanny Howe has an essay on bewilderment that fuels some of my thoughts regarding the circling of topics. I also think of Vasko Popa, a poet who looked at the smallest of objects from as many angles as possibles. That now puts me in mind of Cornell’s boxes. Now look what you’ve done. I’ve been sucked into another one of my vortexes.

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