Here’s a screenshot of my thinking space, the Markdown editor Ulysses. I’m currently working on a piece about our “generation ship” house and NATiVE’s part in making it: “Our Generation Ship: Electrify all the things, Automate all the things, Backup all the things”
You can see other pieces I’m currently working on in that screenshot: “Accommodations in Neurodiverse Relationships”, “The Mass Transformation of Other People’s Risk Into Profit”, “Samefooding the Apocalypse”, “Crip Wisdom in the Age of Coronavirus”. Whatever’s on my mind ends up in Ulysses. Some of those thoughts are iterated into blog posts that I publish to my WordPress blogs directly from Ulysses.
Start building an anti-library of your interests. My ebook collection is pretty vast and full of highlights. I use Readwise to collect and surface those highlights. A commonplace book of quotes is a useful tool for knowledge, and ReadWise helps you mine, master, and create serendipity from your commonplace book.
Peter Elbow (1973) offers the metaphors of growing and cooking as a model for thinking about the writing process. Growing, for Elbow, points to the macro-level change that happens when writers embrace multiple early drafts and see ideas again and anew. “Producing writing,” Elbow says, “is not so much like filling a basin or pool once, but rather getting water to keep flowing through till it finally runs clear” (p. 28). Cooking, in contrast, “is the smaller process: bubbling, percolating, fermenting, chemical interaction, atomic fission. It’s because of cooking that a piece of writing can start out X and end up Y, that a writer can start out after supper seeing, feeling, and knowing one set of things and end up at midnight seeing, feeling, and knowing things he hadn’t thought of before” (p. 48). Elbow, who was writing in the early throes of the process movement, uses cooking as a metaphor for the activity that happens when a writer lingers on a task. It is a micro-activity through which ideas are collected, assembled, and stirred together. “Cooking,” Elbow says, “consists of the process of one piece of material (or one process) being transformed by interacting with another: one piece of material being seen through the lens of another, being dragged through the guts of another, being reoriented or reorganized in terms of the other, being mapped onto the other” (p. 49). More specifically, Elbow names two types of cooking: external cooking (or desperation writing) and internal cooking (or magic cooking). External cooking is the work of writing and rewriting and writing again; it’s a means for pushing through stuck points and finding ideas. Internal cooking, in contrast, feels magical. “It is somewhat mysterious,” Elbow writes, “but you are sitting on heat or acid and it is working on the material. You are writing and it is coming out well. Or you are not writing-sitting or walking around-but you can feel it bubbling inside. Things are going well. You can feel it’s not wasted energy even if you are not writing” (p. 68).