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‘most creative keyword research project I’ve seen in a while’

September 6, 2018

“Tell me again how this works?”

The steady clickity sounds emanating from the laptop paused, followed by a telltale squeak of chair, as she twisted to face me. She tilted her head to the side, as though she was listening for something, or perhaps accessing files in some internal server.

“To be honest, I’m not sure that it does work, or rather, will work. This is all very experimental. But basically it’s this. I ask for writing prompts from friends. Some are writers, some not, some know each other, some not. There are certainly some interpersonal connections that might skew the experiment a bit, but since I’ve established no real control, no base line beyond limited parameters of wordcount and subject matter, there is a good possibility we could end up anywhere.”

“Right, I know what it is you’re doing. What I don’t understand is what you hope to achieve with the exercise.”

“The exercise is enough, of itself. I was stuck. I’d not written anything for over a month and was starting to go batty. It happens subtly. It’s likely no one would notice because I don’t spend enough time with anyone on a regular basis for them to notice the twitches, the ticks, the irrational thoughts and behaviour. And sitting myself down and having a talk with myself, you’re going to write blah blah every day for the next week, does nothing because those same people I’m not spending time with aren’t around to keep me honest. And I will make any excuse to get out of the work, and know that I’ll buy it because I struggle with holding myself accountable, and my self knows that!”

“But if you involve other people…”

“Then I’m accountable! It’s the same principle where someone might go out of their way to help others, but struggle with asking for help themselves. I tend not to put myself in the same category of worthiness as I do my friends and loved ones. Which is insane because the very fact that people who are amazing call me friend should be enough justification to consider myself worthy of their, and by extension, my, affection.”

“Okay, that’s all fine. So you weren’t writing, and that makes you a bit batty. So where does the exercise finish and the experiment begin?”

“That’s rather tenuous as I’m not really sure there is an experiment per se. I’ve discovered I do rather well with some semblance of structure. When given a prompt, I’m always curious to see where I’ll go with it. For instance, when prompted to write about deceit, I ended up writing a poem about trickster gods and the benefits of deception. I didn’t see it coming and it was awesome! Okay, here’s something. Say I decide I want to write about x. It’s totally reasonable to imagine the places that original writing might take me, the further writings it might inspire. If I get random prompts from all different people, I have no idea where my inspiration will not only come from, but where it will go next! It’s terribly exciting.”

“And so what is your hypothesis of what might happen as a result of the exercise? Beyond perpetuating a daily dalliance with the muse, to keep yourself from going batty?”

“Well, I’m thinking there is a possibility that if I keep getting prompts from friends and loved ones and perhaps even beyond my cozy and beloved social circle, eventually I’ll discover I’ve randomly solved the mystery!”

“What mystery?”

“If I knew that, it wouldn’t need solving, would it?”

“Ooookay. And what makes you think a) the mystery exists, b) that it wants to be solved and, c) that stumbling across the answer randomly is how you’ll do it?”

“A) there are all kinds of mysteries we know about and haven’t been able to solve. Imagine how many there are we don’t know about because we’re so concerned with looking directly at them. B) That’s like asking whether or not a puzzle wants to be put together. Obviously it does. Why else would it be in so many pieces? And c) it seemed to work for Dirk Gently.”

“Dirk Gently.”

“Yes, do you know him?”

“If you mean the fictional character created by Douglas Adams who ran a holistic detective agency, yes. Yes, I do. You’ve based your theory of random mystery solving through writing prompts on a character from a work of fiction.”

“He solved the mystery every time, regardless of the fact that he was a fictional character. That’s more competent than many people who consider themselves to be “based in reality”. I don’t see the issue.”

“Alright. Cool. Um… what’s the next one then?” She turned back to the laptop and peered at it, scrolling a bit before lifting her head.

“Ooh! It’s ‘on being a river’, diary entries from a waterway! I’m excited about this one. I wonder which waterway it will be. Perhaps the river from the wind in the willows! I bet that one has lots of good stories.”

“Right. Well, I’ll leave you to it then. I’ll say this, it is the most creative keyword research project I’ve seen in a while.”

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