Volume 4

(other than This Lawn Looks Like Crap)


Interesting, if not deep, thoughts often pop into my head while I’m doing battle with my lawn. And yes, I do battle with a non-gas, non-electric, old-fashioned push mower. An actual reel mower. And my mind tends to think of some semi-interesting crap while I push along.

Crap I Think Of pic


Welcome to Volume 4 of Crap I Think of While Mowing the Lawn.



Occasionally I’m asked what my creative process is when either writing a short piece, putting together a book or preparing a speech. Okay, I don’t get asked this all the time, but it has happened. So, to respond to this, I concocted most of the following dialogue, as I traversed my brownsward of weeds and sticks. Perhaps, you’ll even recognize Joe Routine and Random Jack. Good guys, to an extent.


Moderator: What is your writing/creating method? Do you write a certain amount every day? Do you follow a certain ritual? How about editing? How do you go about that? Blah, blah, blee…

Joe Routine: Great question, or questions, I should say. You must write a little every day, to keep those muscles toned. And one needs the routine of having specific times and places. It takes discipline to think and to write something of value. An undisciplined thinker/writer/speaker is not worth reading or listening to.

Random Jack: Excuse me?! What a load of bull!  To use your terms, thinking/writing/speaking is a creative pursuit, so why try to box in that creativity? Why limit it to specific times and places, or days of the week, for that matter. Just as you can derive inspiration from a million different sources, why pigeonhole when or where you should act upon it. Just be ready to pounce when the mood strikes.

Joe Routine:  Okay, Mr. Anarchy, creativity without discipline is a recipe for disaster, or just a big, hot mess. It takes discipline and routine to succeed.

Random Jack:  I’d hate to read the inside-the-box pablum that you write.

Joe Routine:  Actually, it’s p-a-b-u-l-u-m.

Random Jack:  Thanks for making my point for me.

Question: Okay, now that we’ve settled that issue, tell us about your editing process, in terms of your self-editing. For now, confine the discussion to that, regardless of whether you use someone else to edit your work. Who wants to start?

Random Jack:  I’ll start.

Joe Routine:  But it was my turn.

Random Jack: Yeah, but I’m feeling inspired now, and gotta go with it. I try to get my ideas out there, and just brainstorm. I don’t edit as I write. I have a creative period, and then later on, I refine those ideas with rigorous editing. It would interrupt my flow of ideas if I kept editing for spelling, grammar, appearance or length, so I don’t…

Joe Routine: In your own way, you’re quite regimented. I agree with you that you have to have a system, or you’re doomed to failure. If what I write is messy, I fix it as I go along. I hate clutter in my physical space and in my creative space. If I set the tone for disorganization, chaos follows.

Random Jack:  You sound like someone I once knew who once woke up every two hours to remake her bed.

Joe Routine:  I used to do that, but I found the folly of my ways. I set my alarm for every four hours now.

Moderator:  Fascinating. Matt, you’ve been strangely silent on this discussion: I’ll give you the last words.

Me:  That’s ironic, but okay, I’ll take the floor. I’m going to take a little from Joe, and a little of Jack. My schedule and venue is more on the random side, yet I find myself editing as I go. Does that little bit of OCD get in the way of my creative flow? I don’t think so.

Here’s my main point. Everyone has to find their own formula, both in defining what success means for them, and in finding the methods that best facilitate those results. It’s wonderful to follow the advice of presumed-to-be-successful thinkers, writers and speakers; flattery and emulation is okay to a point, But please, do what is successful for you. And, one more thing…

Moderator:  Yes, what is that one more thing?

Me:  Do what is successful for you, and don’t preach to others about what is best for them. I say that with respect to writing and almost everything else in life. Stop preaching. Just don’t preach.

Random Jack:  But you just did, man.

Me: Did you really think that the irony was lost on me?


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