Writer and programmer Paul Ford joins us again to talk about Buzzfeed, biking as contemplation and future-proofing his kids.
Download and Show Notes: Mindful Cyborgs: Meme Culture, Writing, Contemplation, and Parenting with Paul Ford, Part 2
I’ve long hoped that writing worked like a muscle, and that by writing long and hard enough, I could develop that muscle. That much like a runner can run both faster and longer after training, I would be able to sit at the computer and pound out intelligible prose faster and for longer stretches of time.
I don’t think that’s the case, though. I now think writing is more like a battery than a muscle. You can draw on the writing battery, but eventually it runs out and needs to be recharged. If you don’t use it enough it will become corroded and stop working.
But the thing about batteries is that they don’t hold more of a charge the more times you run them down. Nor do they acquire a higher voltage the more you use them. If anything, they become weaker and shorter lived over time. And that’s fine, I suppose, so long as you get good use out of the battery while it lasts.
A quick catch-up episode in which Chris Dancy talks about his trip to Japan and the effects of globalization, and I talk a bit about the cognitive experience of writing. Here’s a taste:
One of them being this writer Arnon Grünberg who I think has actually might have been on Wired. I’m not sure. No. Where was it? Actually, it was New York Times. He is writing a book while he is connected to a bunch of sensors hundreds of sensors on his head, on his body and the book will be read by people wearing similar sensor. So, they have a bunch of volunteers to see if they can sync the feelings of what he wrote and what people experienced and I thought quite profound that we have almost a shared biological experience with the writing.
It was on November 29th. So, just couple of weeks ago in New York Times. Thoughts?
KF: That’s really interesting. I’d be curious to see what they find. I find the writing and reading are radically different experiences for me. So, I wouldn’t really expect the writer and the reader to really have synchronized experiences but I’m definitely curious to see how that plays out.
CD: I’ve never written fiction. So, if you’re like typing out a scene, I’m sure a lot of our listeners maybe aren’t writers, maybe some of them aren’t writers, professional, but when you’re doing science fiction and you’re in a really dramatic scene, you don’t get excited or you’re just seeing it and typing how it feels almost like you’re a court recorder or how does that work for you?
KF: Well, for me most of it . . . every writer’s different. I guess for me most of it is I already know what I’m going to write before I start typing it. So, by the time I’m trying to describe it, I think I’m a little bit more detached from the emotion of it and then the other thing to keep in mind is that. I don’t know what the saying is “75% of writing is rewriting” or whatever. Most of the time that you spend you spend on something is going to be revising it over and over again. So, I don’t know by the time you’re done, a lot of the visceral or emotional impact that you would expect to get from reading something is kind of worn off and you’re just sort of sick of reading the same sentence over and over again trying to figure out how to improve it.
CD: That’s really interesting.
KF: There are writers who don’t really know . . . I know that there are definitely a lot of writers who don’t really know what’s going to happen in a scene when they sit down and write it. I imagine that that would be kind of a different . . . they would be working in a very different state from me but I would still expect most of their time to be spent on rewriting and I would also expect . . . I would still expect like that feeling of sort of channeling creativity to be different from just reading it but again we’ll have to see how it plays out.
Download and Full Transcript Mindful Cyborgs: Episode 19 – Review, Musings, and Catch Up