Tag: Merlin Mann

A Rush of Words to the Page

My platform had gone silent. I had not written anything for Tech in the Trenches, or anything else in two weeks. Work took over my life and exhaustion filled my evenings instead of the written word. I had forgotten one of the key tenets to writing.

Place butt in seat.
Place fingers on keyboard.
Make the Clackity Noise
Go ahead and read Merlin Mann’s piece. Seriously, I’ll wait…

If you’ve chosen to plow on ahead or already read his words, I’ll give you this,

Your keyboard will have different things in it than mine does, of course. But, it’s impossible to know what’s in there until you’ve made the clackity noise for a few minutes. You think you know what’s in there. But you don’t. It’s not your brain that makes the clackity noise, it’s your fingers.

I’ve learned that my job is to just sit down and start making the clackity noise. If I make the clackity noise long enough every day, the “writing” seems to take care of itself. On the other hand, if there’s no clackity noise, no writing. No little stories. The stories may be in there, alongside God knows what else, but there’s no way to know. You must make the noise.

Make the clackity noise. Type on that keyboard, or if it’s more your style pick up your favorite pen, pencil or chisel and scrawl your words into your treasured notebook, writing pad or stone tablet. Make the words leave your brain and capture them to share.

I was not doing this. Sure, I was reading though not as much as normal as my Kindle’s WhisperSync has grown silent and my Instapaper queue grows ever larger. I was listening to wonderful tales courtesy of Audible. I was living inside another world.

I was not adding anything to my world. I was not moving anything lurking inside my head to the glorious sunlight outside the dusty, cobwebbed corners. I was not making the clackity noise. I was not racing my fingers across the keys in a vain attempt to keep up with the stories in my mind.

I was not telling stories.
I was not sharing with you.
I was not sharing anything with anyone.

I knew where I had to go and like a junkie aching for the next fix, I returned to 750 Words. I returned to that wonderful place with its welcoming black screen and 80’s green text with nothing more than the time and a word count and the assurance of 750 Words – Private, unfiltered, spontaneous, daily at the page’s end.

I came back and let the words flow. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote and I made the clackity noise again. I relieved the pressure valve on the story reservoir which nearly overflowed its banks. Now that it has crested, the stories are flowing again.

I wrote about my love for the Google Chromebook.
I wrote about my love for books and reading.
I write now, about my love for writing.

I write now. For the sake of writing. For the sake of storytelling.
I write inside my protected camp of 750 Words. I write in this familiar setting with nothing but the words to comfort me. I write in the non-judging, acceptance of darkness. I let the words flow freely from me again and I let them stain the page with their neon green shine.

I am telling you a story. A story about my way back from silence. I am sharing the story of my inability to remember the cardinal rule of writing.

To write.


While reading Patrick Rhone’s excellent piece Listen to What You Love I took his advice to heart and adopted his playlists. In addition to Merlin Mann’s lists Revenge of the Smart Playlist and Music Only. In the process I rediscovered Robert Miles and his Dreamland album.

This album has always held a special place in my heart. It has not one but two version of Children. The 6:19 original and 7:05 minute Dream Version are both excellent. I was first introduced to Robert Miles by the first girl I ever dated. She had a tape of the Children single which I immediately fell in love with.

After hearing and falling deeply for the song, I went out to find the rest of his work. I picked up the Dreamland album and the follow-up 23am.

Robert Miles weaves a deep tapestry of “dream trance” that could easily be the whimsical soundtrack to my dreams and thoughts. The music far out lasted the relationship. Though, I had forgotten about the man and his moving, atmospheric soundtracks until today.

I fell into the world of Robert Miles and trance around the same time my interest in writing, specifically poetry was blossoming. It was also around this time a friend and I formed a band. It was an outlet more for my writing and singing than anything else as I lack any form of instrumental musical talent.

In the early days of my writing I would often use an instrumental piece as inspiration and a framework for what I wrote. This is the case with Children and Fable.

I penned a long, rambling, metaphor-riddled poem called Hip green valley censorship. (I have no idea where I got the name for it.)

Hip green valley censorship

Tell me a fable about a time when we were young
Tell me about all the battles in your mind we won
Because I sit here and my brain is working so hard
Trying to find a reason to keep going on
I see you trembling in the rain
I see the tear drops fall upon your page of pain
Poetical Girl locked in a TV world
I don’t know if I will ever make things the same
Poetical girl locked writing in the rain
Sitting out by the town fountain
As I look down from the mountain
As I sit silent serene
All of the raindrops fall upon the valley green
With jealousy they all want to be me
But I’ll never want to be them
They had you locked up in their boxes
They don’t even remember their names
All the girls all the boys are anything at all
They’re all too watered down
I’ve got some reason to come down for you
As I come down to the valley one day
I find a reason to stay
You were just a poetry girl
Writing in a TV world
Internet running through your head
I can’t believe that you’re not dead
You thought about it every night
Thought about how it would be so nice
To take the gun out back
Put the gun up to your head
Written letter explaining you’re dead

And now they wonder why
They never saw the tears you would cry
Never find the notebooks
Never find all the pained looks
They’ll never see all your pages written in agony
As you sit there in the rain
Rain Fountain Serene Mountain
I don’t know what is real
Poetry girl TV world
I just want to feel
I don’t know I don’t care I need your feelings
Plastic Mechanical Animals Everywhere
I know you need me silent serene
As you walk through the village screaming
Silent crowd Screaming crowd
Tanks patrol your thoughts now
Censorship Everyone’s hip Try to be a pretty one
I don’t know if you’d be free
Sitting up on the mountain with me
Sitting on the mountain in the rain
Better than being screaming in pain
I don’t know I think that I’m insane
I looked down into the valley one day
I saw the procession running away
I saw the place where you’d stay
Rest in Peace Poetry Girl Rest in Peace from all the world
Rest in Pieces Poetry Girl from that ferocious world
Now you’re safe in the ground today
They’ll never miss you
They’ll never need you
They’ll never realize
Who you were
What you are
What you wrote and how it justified your actions
But they never found the book
Never seen honor the dream
On the mountain where I sit silent serene
Tank patrolling silent dreaming crowd
Everyone knows that they’re dead down there
Running around with no head
Running around like they’re dead
Everyone knows that I’m insane
I sit there screaming in the rain

Music is and always has been the backdrop to my life. It has gotten me through the good times and the bad. It has been my only friend and my accomplice to artistic works. I have leaned on it when I needed the boost or to mask my emotions.

Music has shaped much of who I am today. Looking back through my collected discs, downloads, and scrobbles speaks volumes about my mood and mental state through different parts of my life.

I deeply identify with certain albums based on where I was and what was happening.

Papa Roach’s Infest will always be the soundtrack to my first stepfather’s death.

Wumpscut’s Die in Winter was the backdrop to my grandmother’s passing.

TLC’s CrazySexyCool was the trip to Arizona.

The Offspring’s Ignition will always be my first foray into my own musical choices.

Presidents of the United States of America’s Self-titled album goes together with The Offspring as they were sides A and B to a cassette tape a high school friend made me for a long bus ride on a field trip.

Nine Inch Nails will always be the backdrop to my life. I took to Trent Reznor’s music and have never let go. The beauty in the pain and the release in the anger. His vicious screams that melt away into the sweetest of melodic journeys. NIN will always be part of my musical genome and my life.

Marilyn Manson was revolution and rebellious teen years and the quest to look deeper and find meaning behind shock.

Robert Miles is love and artistry and emotion.

Third Eye Blind, Smashmouth and FAT will always be my first concert.

Saul Williams is poetry and intelligence wrapped in ferocity and power.

Godhead was the first (and only) CD released show I’ve ever seen and the only band I’ve been a street team member for.

Matchbox Twenty managed to weave themselves into my life in ways I never understood until years later. While attending a show with my then-girlfriend my wife was also there, though we had no idea our paths would cross again.