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I’m an Agilist, a former software engineer, a gamer, an improviser, a podcaster emeritus, and a wine lover. Learn more.

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Paul Tevis

Entries in writing (41)


Turning On The Word Spigot

One thing I picked up at the AIN Bay Area conference in December was a writing exercise from Bridget Quigg called First Word, Last Word. I've been using it to warm up for writing, because it's a great way to get words flowing through the brain and fingers. You can write whatever you want; the only rule is that the last word of a sentence becomes the first word of the next one. At the beginning of my writing sessions, I've been turning on the timer for five minutes, picking a random sentence out of my environment to act as a seed,1 and then just letting things flow, stream of consciousness-style. Here are few of my recent results:

Launch your browser to access free premium content. Content is what this coffee makes me feel. Feel the way the warmth flows up from inside. Inside the cup the beverage sits, waiting to be drunk. Drunk is how I sometimes feel, after mornings like this one. One meeting leads to another, to another, to another, until finally it's time for lunch. Lunch is a brief respite, but only if I remember to take it. It can be hard to disengage from the hussle, to take time and slow down. Down from those lofty heights my head slowly descends until I can breathe again. Again, after I lunch, I return to the office to talk with people, knowing that this is a different way of working. Working is what this is doing, forcing me to listen, to make my point with questions. Questions make people own the answers, because they come from within, rather than being impose from without. Without work, I'm not doing to succeed at this. This is hard, and it is worth doing. Doing the same old thing won't change a thing about myself or the team.


Music is the poetry of the air. Air is what holds up balloons. Balloons make me think of children's birthday parties. Parties, like the Democrats and Republicans, are curious beasts. Beasts stalk the night, searching for love. Love is all you need. Need, like a hungry, drives us to do things we regret. Regret contests with need for the position of the greater evil. Evil clowns wield balloons like carving knives. Knives can slice bread or spread butter; would that were all so flexible. Flexible knives, like a boning knife, let us cut around corners. Corners were all some people in the Wire talked about. About the other night… Night is when the vampires come out to play. Play is, as I have come to understand, the key to learning. Learning doesn't happen when we fear failure. Failure is always an option. Option one: Do it right the first time. Time is on my side.


This sleeve is made from 60% post-consumer fiber. Fiber is an important part of staying regular. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are helping a lot. Lot was that guy who's wife look back and was turned into a pillar of salt. SALT doesn't look like that interesting a movie to me, though lots of things might blow up. Up, up, and away in my beautiful balloon. Balloon, balloon, in the shape of a dog. Dog days of summer, when the no one wants to move. Move from where you are to where you want to be. Be bold. Bold and italics rarely need to be combined, but I did it yesterday. Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Away from these familiar shores, let us sail. Sail upon the seas of fate. Fate is what we make it. It has no more sway over us than we let it. It is not 'an ever-fixed mark / that looks on tempests and is not shaken.' Shaken not stirred.


It's a lot of fun, and it's made whatever I've been working on afterward a lot easier.2



1 The random quotes that WriteMonkey shows at startup are great for this.

2 And hopefully, better.

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