Podcasting “The Memex Method”
This week on my podcast, I read “The Memex Method,” my inaugural weekly column for Medium, in which I reflect on 20 years’ worth of blogging, and how it made me a better writer.
Blogging is the process by which I take everything that seems significant and fix it in my memory; the process of explaining why something seems significant for strangers is powerfully mnemonic in exactly the way that scrawling tones in a private notebook isn’t.
Do it long enough and your unconscious becomes a supersaturated solution of fragmentary ideas that click together, until they nucleate, crystalizing into nonfiction, fiction, essays, stories,novels.
The fulltext, searchable, tagged database of everything I’ve ever given real thought to is how I synthesize whatever new things snag my attention into longer, more reflective pieces — which go into the searchable, tagged database, too.
Blogging — as Clay Shirky observed many years ago — inverts the traditional “select, then publish” dynamic and turns it into “publish, then select” — where the reader acts as the editor, deciding which stories are worth their attention.
But that inversion is only one of three. Blogging is a way to discover what your next book or essay or speech is about. Rather than being inspired and doing research, the blogging method is to do research to be inspired — to discover the book you never knew you had in you.
The final inversion is in the audience. Rather than deciding what audience you want to appeal to (who will pay you or whom advertisers will pay to reach), this method involves creating the publication you’d want to read in order to discover the audience for it.
I’ve written and published more than 20 books (novels, short story collections, graphic novels, YA, middle-grades, picture books, nonfiction, scholarly work) since I started blogging. Far from taking away time from “serious” writing, blogging made that work possible.
Not just because it created a daily writing habit, nor because it helped me organize my thoughts — but also because it is…