The day has finally come: I don’t want to write anymore
When I set out to write a daily blog for a year I knew this day would come. This morning I woke up and thought ‘what the heck am I doing? I really cannot be bothered writing today’.
Tomorrow I’ll have been at this mad challenge for 9 months exactly, so in a way I’m surprised it has taken me this long to ‘hit the wall’.
However, I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet. I don’t believe in giving up on something until all options have been exhausted. As such, I’m spending this morning revisiting all the underlying purposes of this challenge to remind myself there’s a point to it all.
So often we get caught up in our day to day routine we forget that there are ideas everywhere. Knowing I have to file something every day means I look at things differently and intentionally pause on moments I might regularly dismiss. This is good for many reasons, least of which I’m forcing myself to process things from a more considered point of view.
I had dinner with a friend last week who asked if I found myself distracted by constantly searching for a topic to write about. While I understand how he could’ve got this idea, it’s never really been like that. More so, I’ve simply become more in tune with my response to certain things.
If something bothers me, I spend a moment trying to understand why. If it feels substantial, then I’ve got a post and I go for it. Similarly if I’m surprised, amused or offended by something, I have a better ability to rationalise and articulate it.
Each blog is an opportunity
Over the past 9 months, the number of things that have actually happened off the back of posts I’ve written is startling.
The No Filter project I ran earlier in the year was an idea that grew from a blog about Instagram. I’ve connected with many different communities, from running groups through to disability support organisations as a result of different things I’ve written, and my recent post about sexism even triggered a small trolling incident. Which, while unpleasant I’m glad to have experienced because it too has opened my eyes up to that particularly dark side of online culture.
Without taking the time to put these musings into words, they’d never have been met by the minds and opinions of others. It has been a huge reminder of the value we can get from simply starting on an idea without necessarily knowing where it’s going, but trusting in the natural growth process when you involve and inspire other people.
The snapshot of a year
When I travelled to Paris in 2010 I wrote my Mum a really long and detailed email each day. Not so long ago I stumbled across these emails and was baffled at all the details I had forgotten. It’s not that I was all that surprised some of the smaller things had slipped from my mind, it was more that I was in awe of just how many had dropped from my memory bank.
Reading the words I’d written as a 20 year old gave this trip a whole new level of density. I suddenly had recall of the guy I was seeing at the time, the dilemma of whether or not to purchase an expensive item of clothing, one particularly restless night because of a sudden heat wave in the city, and tasting fresh figs for the first time.
When I look back at some of the blogs I’ve written over this past year, I’m blown away at how much peripheral recall they give me. I can look at a post and remember exactly what it was that day which sparked the idea, often what some of the activities were and more often than not the outfit I was wearing. Sometimes I can even remember how much I considered the use of a certain word and why. The trigger recall is nuts.
I’m so looking forward to one day sitting down and reading back through the journal of December 2015 — December 2016 and all the memories, reflection, hindsight and perspective they’ll bring.
Truly understanding my own point of view
This one is especially important and while I’m having a rut of a writing day today, it’s partly because I know I’m not quite content with this point yet that I know I’ll end up pushing through.
Writing every day over such a long period of time has meant my portfolio of topics has started to form buckets. Certain blogs are mere interpretations of the same idea and if I were to go back I’m sure I’d find many that could be collapsed into more concise, long read versions.
Seeing this form over the last 9 months has been a real guide as to what I really care about and also where I think my voice is the most strongest. When I’m inspired to write about certain topics, flow comes thick and fast. Others feel like swimming in chewing gum.
While I still push on with the latter, it’s a nice affirmation to know the topics I have a greater aptitude for. It has built up my confidence and helped me get over the idea that I don’t really qualify to have an opinion about them.
Becoming a better writer
And lastly, a very significant part of this project was to simply get better at writing.
Years ago I was the Digital Editor at an online magazine meaning I was filing upwards of 2000 words per day. When I changed jobs this element was completely lost and, as with any muscle, when you don’t use a certain part of your brain it goes a bit fuzzy.
I was given an abrupt reminder of just how true this was when I was asked to write a think piece early last year. When I got down to do it I realised I had completely lost the ability to smash articles out, I knew if I didn’t do something about it, it would only get worse.
The improvement of my writing over the last 9 months has been one of the most obvious and satisfying things I’ve noticed. I look back on some of the earlier pieces and cringe at how long winded and descriptive my sentences were. And while I think being a good writer is a constant work in progress, I definitely feel I’m a better, tighter and more articulate one now. I still have the odd post that waffles on a bit, but all up, I’m in an entirely different place to December last year.
Doing something every day can be hard, but then again, I never signed myself up to this thinking it’d be easy.
While I’m in a bit of a dip at the moment, I know it’s only temporary. Like anything we do, running marathons, working toward big projects, sticking to a healthy way of living etc, remembering the ‘why’ is crucial to staying on track. The big picture should ultimately define purpose and reinstate motivation whenever we’re experiencing the ‘what am I doing?’ wobbles.
9 months down, 3 to go. I’ll put today down as an inevitable blip and take my own advice: if the end game is still a relevant goal, keep swimming.