Organization (it has to start somewhere)

I was once in a horrid management training course in which all kinds of moronic theories were marched out for us poor radio producers to memorize. Some of the management flavour of the month dictums included the 5 “T’”s of dealing with problem subordinates (Talking, Training, Teaching, something beginning with T, and Termination), the Pareto Principle, and one that actually stuck with me.

This was a little list on a flip chart with the words Why, What, How. In the context of the course, these words represented the theory that people who know How have to work for people who know What, and people who know What work for people who know Why. Now, there is probably a branded name for this principle and I know it still gets spun six ways from Sunday as a new enlightening tool, and like all of these things, it’s a tad disgusting. But… the order is right. Even if you work alone.

Luckily for writers, and songwriters, and visual artists, the Why is usually taken care of. You “gotta use words”, or that melody has just broken it’s water, or the image that you alone see demands to be shared. As the John Mayer CD says: “Inside Wants Out”.

The What is also covered automatically. Your natural bent is towards a particular medium, as is the output: a book, a CD, a painting. I still cherish the memory of holding a finished 10” reel of tape in my hand, (7”, if truth be told).

Where this blog joins all the above is in the How.

When I imagined what the focus of this blog would be, I had a pretty good idea that it would be about How creative people do it. Not the techniques, or learned skills,  of their craft, but how they shoehorn their inspirations out into the external world. This is magic to me. My problem would be how to organize the content, the topics, etc., into something people could navigate easily.  I had my own How to deal with.

A lot of whirling thoughts went down into my notebook something like this:

notebook blog map

This is kind of a poor man’s mind map. But, being out in the country with no electricity, it did fine.

Back at the ranch, I used a real mind mapping program and came up with this:

How Writers Write 2

Beats your old to-do list doesn’t it? At least it’s a start.

Listening for today:
1. Pink-O Boogie – Ry Cooder fr: “I, Flathead
2. There’s A Rugged Road – Judee Sill fr: “Heart Food
3. James – Pat Metheny Group fr: “Offramp

4 thoughts on “Organization (it has to start somewhere)”

  1. I think there is another reason why the people who know “Why” are at the top of many organizations if indeed that is the case. I don’t think it is because they are true visionaries – well maybe once in a mauve moon. I think that most people who are not afraid to appear in public with the answer to the question why are those with the least doubt, ambivalence, and possibly depth or maybe just the most ambition. Many of the fearless leaders topping the outfits that I worked for had their speeches worked out as to why the hell we were doin’ what we were doin’ but alot of it was prefab. It sounded great in introductory speeches – enough to get most people moving for awhile. The trouble started when those that knew what and how began to question the why or saw it crumble in the application (Hey should I say App??) . It’s often the prelude to the disintegration of a company or goverment . Maybe this kind of thing never happens in the mind of the creator. Maybe the what and how begins to redefine the why.

  2. I gotta say one more thing about Why What and How and then I’ll have said it. I’m no writer but I have written and I have gotten pretty bogged down, pretty blocked. I used to think that I was having trouble with the what or the how but actually the why was the culprit. My why had slipped out the back door when I wasn’t looking and there was another in it’s place that I had failed to acknowledge. Here’s an example. Three months ago to the day I was moving along the sidewalk on the way to meet my pal sal for coffee. I was passing a parking lot in which a woman was trying to back into a space with her wee red Honda. She rolled down her window and said “Do I have enough room?” I don’t drive so it took me 2 beats to know what she was referring to. (I noticed she was the only one in the car so I was about to tell her that she had lots of room.) I managed to ease her back into the space using awkward hand gestures and saying. “back back back etc” . When she came to a stop she smiled at me pleasantly and said “Thanks. Sorry to have interrupted your conversation.”

    I was not on a cell phone. I was going to tell her this but refrained because I realized that I was actually talking to myself. I was less ashamed of this than what she thought I was doing.
    I started to write about this. Why why why? I needed to rant that it’s a sorry world when madmen cannot even appear mad in public anymore – everyone thinks they’re on the goddamed phone – rather than receiving instructions from satan about killing the next passerby. Someone’s gonna get hurt because we can no longer separate the wheat from the chaff. I wrote and wrote and stopped.

    I thought I had writer’s block. In fact my why had slipped out into the alley when I wasn’t looking. It had actually be replaced by another. If I had recognized the new why, I could’ve kept writing. In fact I could’ve written a way better story.

    1. I like the way that came out. A premise within a premise. And, of course, I agree with you about madmen. Some environments treasure their eccentrics. Toronto used to – London and Rome, too. Conformtity rules the suburbs and the cities are all about personal branding and marketing. So it seems, at least.
      “We want a few mad people now. See where the sane ones have landed us!”
      George Bernard Shaw

  3. “In that direction”the Cat said, waving its right paw round,”lives a Hatter; and in that direction,” waving the other paw,”lives a March Hare. Visit either you like;they’re both mad.”
    “But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
    “Oh you can’t help that,”said the Cat;”we’re all mad here.I’m mad. You’re mad.”
    “How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice
    “You must be,” said the Cat,”or you wouldn’t have cone here.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *