Apart from working on my startup Proxies API, I also dabble in standup comedy from time to time.
One of the fascinating things about stand up material generation is that it is not that difficult to come up with jokes after you have been in it for a few years. Any comedian who has been around will tell you that. The most challenging part about stand up is coming up with an exciting premise.
You don’t come up with a premise; you identify one. From your real-life, ideally. That way, people can relate to it.
There is a parallel to writing blog posts here. The most challenging part of writing for me is not the words that go into the article, but coming up with exciting ideas that have the potential to be an article.
So coming back to stand up, I realized a couple of years into comedy that I need not worry about jokes and only worry about having a list of exciting premises.
At this point, I open up a channel for conversation with myself about the areas of my life that has always fascinated me.
a) Public behavior of people frustrates me.
b) My daughter/wife and all the frustrating/cute things they do.
c) I travel between the US and India a lot, the differences in their cultures fascinate me.
d) Life in Delhi, the way they name their streets, the heat, the cold, etc.
So what I do is I have several unfinished/running jokes in all these areas at any time. My brain can hold about 4–5 at a time. I try NOT to write the punch lines that turn these premises into jokes. Instead, the idea is to try to build the observation muscle inside me trained in these areas.
I typically have four open documents on my laptop ready and waiting for further ideas in these areas. And I expect the list to be long before I start writing punch lines.
I tell myself, ‘I will not write punch lines till I get to about 50 premises in each.’
All this sets up my subconscious to hunt for things that are interesting to talk about on stage. In the beginning, I ask myself every hour to see if there was something in these areas that came up. But eventually, even this kind of prompting is not needed, and the brain automatically starts noticing interesting premises until you have an abundance of them.
I applied the same to article writing. I know the few areas that I want to write.
I start asking myself a few times every day if I have any interesting thoughts about them.
After a week of doing this, I will have a bunch of headlines of articles enough to last a few months.
Then I start writing 5–6 articles simultaneously. I don’t write much in each, just the key ideas. I DONT expand on them. It is essential not to allow that part of the brain to kick in just yet.
The next day I try to expand on them across all six articles. Still more ideas. No growing on them.
At this point, the subconscious should take over, giving me further ideas and angles and even specific phrases that I can go into these articles. I allow this to brew for a week. I am just collecting them into the documents. A week later, I have enough to make an article that I could have never written consciously.
I sat to work on them one by one and put the whole thing together into a cohesive draft. I wait another couple of days to see if the subconscious has something more to say about them. After that, I schedule them for publishing.
The author is the founder of Proxies API, a proxy rotation api service.
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