Mise En Place

I’m giving the Chromebook another spin. I was so enthusiastic about it initially. Then I finished my 100 posts and shifted over to tinkering more to work on layout and how to present what I had written. I didn’t really share the project widely. I still haven’t.

I’m writing directly in the WordPress editor. Here I’m trying to summon some of what Seth Godin says about writing his posts directly in the Typepad editor. I wrote about this in “Seth Godin and Stephen King’s pencil“:

The significance of writing in Typepad is not that it’s the best editor or anything, it’s that it’s the location where Godin goes and knows exactly what he’s there for and what he should be doing.

I just block quoted myself paraphrasing what Godin said on Tim Ferriss’s podcast. But I shouldn’t ramble so much. Godin is top of mind because he was on Brian Koppelman’s podcast this week, in an episode titled “Seth Godin Doesn’t Believe in Writer’s Block”. 

Godin and Koppelman discuss writer’s block after Godin says it doesn’t exist. I was also happy to hear Koppelman mention But What if We’re Wrong by Chuck Klosterman. Something from that book is that other explanations will come up but it doesn’t really change the day to day. Whether we’re in this dimension, in a simulation, or in a  multiverse, tomorrow is still going to happen the same way.

Koppelman relates that to writer’s block in that we can say it doesn’t exist or give it a different name, but the feeling is there. He found it helpful to define it as a block to acknowledge that there’s something that can be removed.

Godwin has a request for people with writer’s block: show me your bad work. You would rather be a stuck writer than a writer who is writing stuff you are not proud of.

What I’m arguing is, let’s begin by saying “I am writing work I am not proud of. I would like to to be better.”

While they might not agree on what it’s called, they seem to agree with how you deal with it. Writing a lot. Koppelman is a big proponent of Morning Pages (I’m a fan and always want to do it more). Seth says you just get into a place where you’ve got what you need and you just write. Even if it’s bad.

Mise En Place—it’s its own reward. The chef lines up all the ingredients, pre-cut ready to go. So that when the things are fired up, you just cook.

Well my friend Isaac Asimov, who published four hundred books before he died. Isaac got up every single morning, he used to near the Lincoln Center. He sat in front a manual typewriter and he typed for five hours. And if he didn’t have anything to say, he still typed. And that’s the answer to having enough good ideas. You have to have bad ideas.

Oh I’ve got bad ideas alright. Let’s see if I can learn to get to the good ideas.

I sat down forty minutes ago and thought I wouldn’t have anything to write about tonight. I felt blocked, but I resolved to sit here and type.

I am writing work I am not proud of. I would like it to be better.