I just got off a phone call with a reader and fellow writer, Trevor Huffman.
Trevor also asked me,
“How do you ideate? How do you know what to write?”
To be honest that always seems like such an odd question to me.
“That’s sort of like asking, ‘when you’re hungry, how do you decide what to cook?’”
Like… whatever you want?
lol. But for reals. That’s how I feel.
And then I tried to offer at least some kind of explanation,
“Sometimes it’s whatever’s in my head — whatever I’m thinking about. I mean, that’s how the writing started — not for other people, but because I have something in my head I just want to get down on paper. And yeah, sometimes it’s something that happened in my day or whatever.”
And here, this post, is proof that I literally do just that.
I got off this call less than an hour ago, and now I’m writing about it.
And in terms of ideation to edit to “publish,” this is (albeit on the very lightest end of things) literally how it sometimes goes.
If you’re thrashing for ideas, then you’re doing it wrong.
And if you think you have to have the “perfect” piece, you’re definitely doing it wrong — the most important thing is to get content out, and every day you aren’t putting stuff out because your idea isn’t good is a day truly lost. Some stuff I know I like, but sometimes I put stuff out when I’m still like only 80% sure I like it. I don’t worry so much about each standalone idea as I do about the overarching essence (like, you don’t agonize over every word you say, do you? No, you focus far more on a much higher level.) It’s the same with anything you do.
How I know what to put out there is: whatever is most pressing. Whatever “wants to be put out next,” given that I try to post every day; whatever “feels ready.”
And then I move on. Which makes future ideation lighter and easier.