Stray book notes

I keep hearing about this approach to writing, though it’s slightly different from person to person:

  • Tweet: Ideas they’re thinking about writing about

  • Blog posts: The most popular tweets become blog posts

  • Book chapters: The most popular blog posts become book chapters

I’m not currently active on Twitter and I don’t have any plans to write a book. All I’ve got is these blog posts, baby!

I have a bunch of Kindle highlights. Some are from books where I plan to write full book notes posts. Others, not so much. And some are somewhere in between. I’m going to try writing short notes on a few different books.

It’s sort of like starting with other people’s tweets. If I finish writing about that excerpt and still feel like there’s more to say, then I might bump that book up my queue of full book notes to write.

  • Highlight: Someone else’s good idea that they already wrote about that I’m thinking about writing about

  • Blog post: The highlights I enjoy writing about most become full blog posts.

  • Book chapter: lol

Let’s see how this goes.

Here’s one from Creativity Inc.:

As Joe Ranft said at the time, “Better to have train wrecks with miniature trains than with real ones.

Pixar’s miniature trains are a little different. This wreck, in particular, was a two million dollar short film to put a children’s book author through a bit of a try out. It might not always be called prototyping, but the same underlying principle is everywhere: creating a safe environment to take risks and fail. You can learn without using up as many resources as a full project.

That gets to the idea at the start of this post. A tweet lets you gauge an idea. If it turns out to be an awful idea, you can always just tweet through it.

A blog post doesn’t require the investment of a book chapter. Even if you’re revising over and over (or not1) and using a copyeditor, it still won’t take up the resources a book chapter would take to write. And it won’t mess up the larger narrative of a book.

Here are some thoughts on blogging from Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) in How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big:

The main reason I blog is because it energizes me. I could rationalize my blogging by telling you it increases traffic on by 10 percent or that it keeps my mind sharp or that I think the world is a better place when there are more ideas in it. But the main truth is that blogging charges me up. It gets me going. I don’t need another reason.

Posting to this blog is slowly becoming something I look forward to each day. I’ve written consistently in the past and looked forward to it—but it was mostly private. Knowing I’ll share things I’m writing forces me to be a little more thoughtful as far as structure goes. And writing something that might be helpful, interesting (on a good day), or both (when the stars align) to others.

I’m energized when I start writing and a little drained by the time I finish a post for the day. It’s never quite where I want it to be, but I know it’s time to move on (or it’s already the next day entirely). Looking at the collective whole of the past couple months, written a little bit at a time, and knowing there might be a tiny bit of good in there—that’s what charges me up.