Writing plan, 2016
Photo credit: dmelchordiaz via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
Until yesterday I thought the biggest writing problem that I had was sitting my ass in the chair and starting. Now I realize it's much different than that. And I think I know what I need to do.
It's 9:04 am. I am doing my pages as I have done them so many times before. 750 words of whatever comes to mind. But this time with a difference.
The difference is that I am not just writing, but trying to stay "awake" while writing.
For me writing is a complex, conditioned response. The stimulus is sitting down in front of a piece of paper or a computer, intending to write. The response is when a part of my brain makes my fingers move and... Voila! Writing appears. Kind of like now. Then. Whatever.
Conditioned response writing. Not me.
Normally I would just let the conditioning write. It does a good job. From time to time I might wake up and watch the writing happen. But waking up is not necessary. Just sit down. Writing will happen.
Then, before pushing the publish button I'd wake up and read what the conditioning had produced. Why? Because I don't push the button often enough to have conditioned that response. And because I want to do a read-through before pushing the button.
So I read what I've written. First time through, I'd almost always decide that the writing needs improvement. That decision would be a stimulus. It would invoke another part of my brain, one conditioned as an editor. The editor would change some words, maybe move a paragraph. And then it would have the writer rewrite whatever the editor felt needed rewriting. I'd go back into my trance.
Next time it was "ready to publish" I'd wake up again. I would read it and decide it was better, but still not good enough. I'd go back to sleep. Stimulus would invoke editor and writer yet again. And again. And again. Until publication or exhaustion.
I've been doing this unwittingly for years. I thought that my problem was getting myself to sit down. If I solved that, I'd solve it all. But there's more to it.
Because I've been making "improvements." The word "improvement" means: new conditioning. The conditioned writer writes in response to the "sitting down to write" stimulus and periodically some stimulus causes a conditioned critic, the "improvement," to go to work. It responds to its stimulus by reviewing the writing, and when the writing does not meet the critic's conditioned standards, it invokes the editor which makes changes and causes rewriting. All automatic. I am unnecessary.
It works. Read my other posts, if you don't believe me.
The whole process is thoroughly automated, except for sitting down. And I'm trying to automate that.
WTF? More conditioning!
Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with conditioning. It gets the job done. Which is awesome.
And conditioning can improve, which is also awesome. But by itself conditioning improves only within the limits of other conditioning -- let's call it my self-improvement conditioning. Which is also awesome. Lots of people don't self-improve and haven't conditioned themselves to self-improve. But its limited.
To go beyond those limits takes more. Takes me. Assuming, of course, that I exist and have free will.
That's a detail. Let's assume it's true.
And that leads me to the plan for this year, for 2016.
The plan is a combination of more stimulus, more conditioning, more attention, and more supervision.
This morning when I sat down at my computer, there to greet me was a blank 750 words page. A stimulus trap I'd set the night before. As planned, it invoked the AutoWriter, and AutoWriter started writing. Credit where due: most of this post was written by AutoWriter.
From time to time it was reviewed by AutoCritic. Credit where due, AutoCritic was great at pointing out places where it needed work.
So it was edited by AutoEditor. And then rewritten by AutoWriter.
And how, here it is.
My intention as all this was going on, was to keep waking up and getting involved. Paying attention to what AutoWriter, AutoEditor, AutoCritic were doing, and offering small bits of direction.
I'm trying to coach AutoWriter and AutoCritic and AutoEditor to go beyond their current conditioning.
I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the coach.
It's a doomed effort, in a way. The more I coach the more I'm creating AutoCoach.
Some day AutoCoach will do coach almost as well as I do.
Then, I guess it will be time for MetaCoach.
It's 12:51 PM, by the way.