I was on my way back from the airport, when I struck up a conversation with a taxi driver. He was originally a landscaper, but was now driving taxis (as part of his retirement plan) and he did like the job a lot. But he did have some regrets.
He wanted to write. It had always been his dream to write a book about landscaping.
But despite several attempts, he'd failed. Every time he sat down to write something, he'd struggle. Then he'd give up. And in his mind he'd decided he wasn't much of a ‘writer' after all.
So I told him he was mistaken. By the time I told him he was mistaken, we were already on the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and about 15 minutes away from my destination.
I had 15 minutes to get him to ‘write' an article…
And so we started. I asked him to pick a topic on landscaping. And he started talking about soil. Somehow that topic veered to good soil. And bad soil.
And my questions were:
1) What is good soil? Why is it considered good?
2) What is bad soil? Why is it considered bad?
3) Can you create good soil from bad soil?
4) Can you mix good soil and bad soil? (And what are the ramifications?)
5) Where would you recommend a person start when putting together the soil for planting.
And exactly twenty five seconds before we got to my house, he'd finished his ‘article'.
All while driving a taxi.
But can you write articles while driving a taxi? Or headed home on a bus?
Of course you can. In fact, anyone who can formulate thoughts can write an article. The problem of ‘writing' isn't in the thought process. We're all able to structure our lines easily. When someone asks us questions, we're easily able to give answersâ€”if we know the topic. The problem arises when you sit down to ‘write'. The moment you sit down to write, you forget how to think. You suddenly are so focused on structuring your information, that you forget to ask the questions. If all you did was ask the right questions, you'd be able to write an article, give a speech, write a book, create a presentation. Because all you're doing is putting thoughts together. Nothing more, nothing less.
In fact, I have an open challenge
I can teach anyone to write articles in thirty minutes or less. Anyone. Yes, that's correct: anyone. Even an illiterate person can learn how to ‘write' an article. And it doesn't matter where they come from, or their background, or their level of education. If they can have a conversation with me, I can teach them how to ‘write' an article. Of course, becoming a writer who brings drama, flow and power to the article takes a little more than thirty minutes, but that too is possible. Education, background or ability has zero bearing on writing articles.
All you need is a good teacher.
A robust system.
And a short taxi ride.
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Very encouraging article Sean.
I find this “The moment you sit down to write, you forget how to think” very interesting, and I’m not sure whether it is about how to structure on paper or something else.
I used to teach and sometimes I did not know what or how to proceed. Without any worries I would go in and something about what a student said would trigger me into a whole new cycle of material.
With a new article though that dang piece of paper does not ask questions so I guess if we are stuck with an article we have to provide the questions ourselves…
Lydia, CluelessCrafter says
Call me a nut, but I think the psychological setting of a moving taxi frees the mind from judgment and suggests fluidity to the brain. In a static setting, say in front of the computer, we are in the appropriate place to do our work correctly. This adds up to a lot of pressure.
No one should be able to write in a taxi, which makes it that much easier to write with ease. . .
Rebecca Leaman says
Hm, yes, there’s something about the motion of a moving car, I think, and the sound of falling water has a similar effect — who doesn’t think brilliantly in the shower?
Just as the questions of a student or a teacher can prompt new ideas and spur the brain to productivity, but staring at a blank page or a blank computer screen can shut it right down…
My current theory is that it may be something to do with linear vs lateral thought patterns — but I’ll have to grab a taxi ride to get that idea fleshed out!
May we should get used to have some recording device with us every time we are in the shower or in a Taxi or bus or whatsoever.
Sean D'Souza says
It’s less about the recording, and more about the questions. If you know the right questions to ask, you can “write” at will.
Ananga Sivyer says
Thanks for an inspiring post. I agree with Lydia that there’s something about being in a moving vehicle that gets you moving too.
When I used to drive to a clinic (about 20 minutes away) to see clients, I kept my voice recorder on in the car and would usually be in a good frame of mind to speak some notes as “article seeds”.
I also like listening to lectures in the car – it seems to be a good place for my mind to churn things over.
Select 10 words at random from a dictionary and see if you can connect it some way in your article. Don’t try harder. See if the connection happens naturally else discard the word and pick up another word.
“Take a piece of cardboard and cut them in to 3×5 index cards write a proven headline on each of these cards and place them on a table. Now take a few steps back and look at those cards again move forward to take a closer look. ”
But, remember don’t force the connection you have enough words in the dictionary:)