Capturing Fringe Thoughts

How do you decide whether to write about something you know vs something you’re figuring out?

Here’s my process:

I jot down my “fringe thoughts” on my phone all the time. I probably write a few notes a day. It’s all part of having a “mind like water” as they say in martial arts, and in GTD methodology. (http://verysimpletao.com/achieving-mind-like-water-through-getting-things-done/).

This way I don’t have to try to remember what I was thinking and when I do go to write, I’m rarely starting from scratch. I also just find myself to be more creative when I write things down. It’s a signal to my brain that writing these “fringe thoughts” matter.

These days I only decide to formalize my fringe thoughts into a written piece when I believe it’s something that some part of the world needs to hear.

If it’s just for me, I keep it to myself, on my phone, in my digital notebook/journal or whip up a quick coherent composition and email it to a few relevant friends.

For the category of “things the world needs to hear”, it could be either something I “already know” and have thought a lot about or something “I am trying to figure out”. But neither of those things really determine the urgency of the message. Whether I already know something or am figuring it out is fairly independent from what “the world needs to hear”. (Even though I may be inclined to believe that what the world really needs to hear, is just everything I know! :-p) Kidding aside, if I’m writing something that I believe the world needs to hear, the only difference between “something I already know” or “something I am figuring out” is how long it will take to write.

But they’re actually pretty connected, because endeavoring to write about something “you’re trying to figure out” is one of the best ways to really “know” it. And when you start writing about something you think you “already know”, you’ll often find out how much more there is to “figure out”.

And to wrap this little written splurge in a bow — the reason I took the time to write this is because I think understanding the value of writing fringe thoughts and turning some of them into formalized pieces, is something that the world needs to hear.

At this point it doesn’t deserve more formalization than a facebook post, but if the meme keeps revealing its relevance to me, I might take this “relatively developed fringe thought” and build it into more formal blog post or essay.

 

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