encounter

On Writing, Topics & Focus

Topics I

Recently a number of comments were dedicated to one matter in particular. That matter is how I choose topics and write about the chosen topics. Well I often have some sort of list of potential topics with writing ideas. Lists, even messy ones give a practical overview of whatever is included. After an included item is taken care of a X or V for check marking indicates its status.

Thing is, sometimes lists are not practical for me. Sometimes I combine topics or change topics a bit. Ideas come and go. As I read and write more I make small changes in my head and eventually in the writing interface of choosing. In the final editing stage I have read each line at least ten times until I find the text acceptable. The text has to be acceptable in detail and on the whole.

Sometimes I encounter something and I have to write about it. A number of posts on the blog were spur of the moment posts. Recently I have been reading about the history of Amsterdam. Geert Mak’s approach to making history accessible is very inspiring. Also when I have my camera with me, I usually find something interesting and from there I decide on the next series of pictures.

How I generally work is simple and personally what I find most pleasant. The pictures you see are the current lists of potential topics. I value handwritten notes more than any digital application in existence, just a preference. The bullet points summarise my approach to writing in general.

  • One thing at the time. (Focus)
  • Reduce distractions. (Increase focus)
  • Stay on topic, whatever happens. (Maintain focus)
  • Something is finished when it is acceptable for me. (Requirements)
  • I always try to improve, I have to. (Personal challenge)
  • Every new text is a new challenge that requires my full attention. (Focus on writing)

I can work with pen and paper, on the computer and wherever I am comfortable enough to work on an idea. My previous jobs have taught me to always be flexible with conditions. As long as I am not in conversation with someone else I can work whenever I am focused. I prefer to work in silence but quiet surroundings are not always a given. Once the writing starts it just goes on.

In short: when I have an idea for a topic with text and I am comfortable enough I just have to focus. Everything less than 400 words can be done in an hour and everything above 400 words takes longer. Pictures also take extra time.

Topics II