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Not gonna lie – I procrastinated writing for several hours today. It doesn’t feel great.
There’s something in the background of all this app-switching between Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, and Medium and the subsequent bombardment and over-stimulation of clickbait, news, articles, images, and overall content that is deteriorating my attention span. It’s dangerous and insidious and robs me of two of the most important things I have: time and energy.
Makes me want to know what Deep Work feels like and what I can do to cultivate it. I’ll install one of those website blockers and let you all know how that turns out. Maybe I can allocate an hour a day to check out any and all of those websites, which is already a lot of time per day – more than I dedicate to other habits like exercise and working out these days.
Well, now that we got that out of the way, I wanted to share a writing exercise by Ijeoma Oluo that my friend sent me via text.
Oluo is a professional writer, author of So You Want to Talk About Race, and in a recent post on substack, she talks about Opinion Origin Stories, which is an exercise in investigating how we came to form the opinions we hold. In doing so, we can question and evaluate the validity of those opinions and we can better understand why we hold them – and whether we should continue holding onto them.
To start, Oluo suggests writing about the Kardashians, a lighthearted, low-stakes topic on which everyone seems to have formed. We can then map out how our opinions came to be and how they evolved.
To emphasize the importance and relevance of this exercise, Oluo writes:
“1) A lot of people have very strong opinions that they’ve never investigated themselves…
2) … those opinions were formed over time and were at some point different than they are today. When we fail to acknowledge this, not only are we being dishonest in our writing, but we are also creating an image of infallibility that alienates our reader.
3) If we want to convince people of something, instead of just preaching to the choir, we need to find them where they are on their awareness journey. Mapping out our own can then help us identify spots to back up to where we can bring people along.
4) When telling stories and creating characters, spending time with a character’s awareness journey will help us create characters that are more real and will help better engage readers.”
I find that I don’t map out my opinion origin stories enough. By Thursday, I’ll have mapped out an opinion I formed and see where it came from!
Thank you, Ijeoma, for the reminder and thank you to my friend who sent me Ijeoma’s work. Stay tuned…