I made a few videos a couple months ago where I talked about a practice I was calling the 9 connections. After some thinking, I realized that connecting ideas in interesting ways is important for creating interesting content. I was watching a lot of Nerdwriter videos and that’s part of what sets him apart.
The 9 connections exercise was my attempt to make a deliberate practice routine around connecting ideas. I’m seeing some of that practice pay off in this week’s exercise.
I’m working through the Psychotactics.com article writing course. One takeaway from this week’s assignments is that you can connect anything to anything.
Recency bias can be strong so I’ll try to take advantage of it now. I wouldn’t make the following connection if I wasn’t reading The Name of the Wind at the same time that I was doing this week’s exercises.
The Name of the Wind is a fantasy novel. I can’t explain much or spoil it because I’m not that far in. There’s magic though, called sympathy. And the magic seems to revolve around linking things.
That’s in theory. In practice, it feels like you’re lifting three drabs. No sympathetic link is perfect. The more dissimilar the items, the more energy is lost. Think of it as a leaky aqueduct leading to a water wheel. A good sympathetic link has very few leaks, and most of the energy is used. A bad link is full of holes; very little of the effort you put into it goes toward what you want it to do.
It’s like connecting ideas while writing. If you sit and think about it long enough, you’ll find a connection. Whether it’s good or not is an entirely different matter.
If you create a bad connection, it’s full of holes and your readers will need to spend a lot of energy following it. A good connection requires little energy to follow. A great connection creates energy and makes readers more interested. You can create momentum for them to keep reading.
In this week’s writing assignments, I thought of a good connection relating baby carrot processing to the writing process. I created a terrible connection relating teaching to a story about the invention of the crockpot. (A literal crockpot, not the “oh that guy is a crockpot” kind of crockpot.)
For instance I tried linking a piece of chalk to a glass bottle of water. There was very little similarity between the two, so even though the bottle of water might have weighed two pounds, when I tried to lift the chalk it felt like sixty pounds. The best link I found was a tree branch I had broken in half.
The more you practice, the more you’ll improve this skill in two ways.
First, identifying good connections. You’ll grow to have a feel of whether the connection is good or not. Either right off the bat before wasting time connecting the ideas.
Second, speed. You’ll be able to connect anything to anything quickly. Sometimes you’ll surprise yourself with a good connection that you didn’t see before trying.