I am a postalite, and not a blitzer. I am not good at coming up with ideas on demand and in the moment.  Pretty much all of my work is based on waiting around passively for an idea to pop into my head.  It happens in the shower, in the car, at 4:00 in the morning when I am awakened by the snow plow, etc. Whenever that happens I immediately send it to myself in an email.

Then a complicated system of tubes that I have set up routes that email to my Google Buzz feed, then my other blog, and finally to a mail folder where I keep all of these ideas archived.  A typical auto-email looks like this:

—– Original Message ——–

Subject: Album of the summer
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2010 10:02:56 -0700
From: jeffrey ely <jeffely@northwestern.edu>
To: post@cheepthoughts.posterous.com
Tmbg flood

Grownup now sounds like kids


You're such a great Parker daddy

Guy teaching daughter to surf

The day it all came together

Old man learning new tricks

Which has the bare outline of a post I never wrote about my experiences surfing this past summer, and being an old man learning new things at the same time my kids are learning new things.

I send myself about 4 of these per day on average, although most of them are just links to stuff on the web I might write about.  People also send me links and I just forward them right away.

Every morning I go through my archive to find something I want to write about (If people have liked it on Google Buzz then I know its a go for the blog.)  I try to keep it in mind all day and work on what I can say about it and how to write it.  This allows me to take advantage of idle moments throughout the day to do most of the writing.  Ideally, by the time I sit down to write (usually just before going to bed at night) I have a good outline and the only thing left to do is find the right words.

(Ron Siegel took this photo of the car cemetery on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive in last week’s blizzard.)