Most of us journalists have one great idea every few months, maybe two if we drink industrial levels of caffeine. For professional thinkers like Gladwell and Lehrer, the key to maintaining a remunerative career is to milk your best ideas until there’s no liquid left and pray you’ve bought yourself enough time to conjure up new ones.
Given that continuous cycle of creation and reuse, blogging seems to have been a bad idea for Jonah Lehrer. A blog is merciless, requiring constant bursts of insight. In populating his New Yorker blog with large swaths of his old work, Lehrer didn’t just break a rule of journalism. By repurposing an old post on why we don’t believe in science, he also unscrewed the cap on his brain, revealing that it’s currently running on the fumes emitted by back issues of Wired.
– From Josh Levin’s Slate piece about Jonah Lehrer’s self-plagarism coming to light.
I’m too filled with deadlines (Blogging deadlines, of course) to respond to this story the way I want right now, and my brain is too scattered to come up with the coherence that I’d need anyway, but I wanted to pull out that above quote nonetheless. I find it particularly compelling because it points out the weird unforgiving cycle of blogging versus fresh ideas, and how exhausting it is; talking to Kate this morning about everything that lay ahead today, I told her that I owe Time a new set of pitches for next week’s essay, even though this week’s only went live this morning. “You need to do that already?” she asked. It is, admittedly, a strange and exhausting rhythm to find yourself in.