Systems for systems people

I have a system and a method for writing. It involves assigning a word count, picking a key word that needs to be repeated, and setting a deadline. When executed faithfully, this system is fool-resistant. I hesitate to say foolproof “because fools are so ingenious”.

A systematic approach to writing seems like a cheat, the result of some pay-by-the-word grind from a particularly merciless body shop. Where is the spontaneity, the vigor, the inspiration when it comes to producing prose? Can you really just grind out words until they appear on the page in the right quantity and then stop?

Spontaneous writing is rarely focused, and the key to the Internet these days is focus. Someone needs to know what you are all about in the matter of milliseconds. The systems that brought them to see your page this one time are ruthlessly measured in eye blinks, and if you don’t follow through quickly it’s off to the next.

Vigorous writing is rewarded only to the extent that your vigor is distinctive. Use some prose that’s been repeated too often elsewhere, and yours becomes invisible when the giant maw of the Goog scoops it up and ingests it into its water-cooled search engine. Don’t be too fanciful in your choice of synonyms, lest you spill over into some other field of work entirely.

Inspired writing needs to be inspired by something other than easily gleaned metrics of success. Eyeballs can be bought, clicks can be synthesized, and creativity can be wrung out of a sufficiently primed deep learning model. Your inspiration needs to emerge out of a better place than a careful spreadsheet.

The word count is met, the key word has been systematically tested, and the index has been updated. Launch the words out into the world. They need to go out on time, and a blank sheet readied for the next batch. Onwards!