About writing

I quickly mentioned the usual resolutions I'm taking every year in my reading list from 2019 here. The one I had the hardest time to figure out has always been the same: writing.

Photo by Anders Nord

Looking at the publishing dates on this blog now frustrates me. The longest streak - with at least one post a month - was from July 2014 to May 2015 [11 months in a row - not bad actually to build a routine] but then, it collapsed. Few posts here & there along the end of 2015 and early 2016 and... nothing until 4 years later: April 2020. I can't even explain how something like this happened. Not a big deal by itself, I can quickly find tons of excuses - mostly related to time, ressources & energy - but still, I haven't succeed to publish anything here.

The interesting thing is: I wrote a lot during these years. As a matter of fact, by the pure amount of words typed a day, I'm surely more of a writer than most of the people in history. All of us probably, typing thousands of words a day through email, slack, different chats & DMs services, few experiments on Medium one day, few tweets and so on so forth. I know I wrote a lot of long-form content actually on our skateboarding mag [it was mostly interviews though]. Still I miss something entirely different: writing my raw-thoughts [no editing, no second read] here on my own blog, my own space on the World Wide Web.

Each year I wondered: why are you still putting that resolution on your list? I felt frustrated. I still am today actually. Even though one way to look at 2020 would be: kudos kev, you succeed to hit the 'publish' button few times this year, you made the hardest part, you awakened your muscle, now you just have to keep it going. Another voice in my head is still shouting: boom, you're a loser, it's still a painful process, you haven't progressed one slice, you're still staring at your screen for too long and you don't really know how to organize your thoughts in a proper manner; I could go on for hours. Fortunately I choose easily the first angle.

This year, I realised that the fist step in order to get back successfully to writing was: giving myself enough time to do it. Like literally I started to block slots in my calendar, on a weekly recurring basis, just to stop everything else, to think, pause, think again, and from there, start to open a draft here and write. I don't mind the outcome [a pusblished article per se], I just celebrate the time to think with no distraction and nothing else to take care about. I knew this. I read a lot about how to form new habits. I succeed re: reading, playing sport, sleeping and so on but somehow, always neglected the same formula for writing. I suspect the medium made it harder. I'm writing on the same computer I'm working with, browsing the web, digging into my feedly, having so much stuff one click away; it was harder to commit compare to sport where once I'm outside on my board for instance, or in a ring with my pair of gloves on, nothing else matters.

Now that I successfully published few posts this year, I can already feel the whole process being easier, my mind fitter, my whole body focusing more on the enjoying part of it rather than the challenges. I know what the next trap is: setting up the expectations too high and getting discouraged. So I'll keep it easy for the rest of the year [way enough challenges this year anyway]; and I'll slowly increase my pace going forward.

2 more things I'd like to add right now. One is my own personal reasons to write:

  • this blog acts as a personal record of my thoughts; it felt great to go back to few stuff I wrote 5 years ago for instance; it was like a true time-machine in my own mind -- exhilerating
  • writing is like fitness for your brain: it helps me organize my thoughts, articulate them better, in one word: it helps me think; it improves my communication skills as well
  • I got convinced very early on to write publicly online [10 years ago by Tristan]; it makes me learn 100x more / faster thanks to others; people react, comment, share, criticize and by doing so, they make me think more deeply, dive deeper, understand more nuances, they literally teach me some stuff
  • over the years, I also met awesome new people -- outside of my 'regular background' growing up let's say

Second is a collection of stuff I read recently about writing that I felt relevant.

  • Why write by my friend Gian. Very well articulated. I can't agree more. By the way, we both write in a language that isn't our mother tongue.
  • 'Like all skills, we improve with practice and with feedback.' by Seth about The simple cure for writer's block

To be continued

What I've read in 2019

I played with the same sort of resolutions the past few years and it always looks liks this: 

  • spend more time with closed friends
  • talk more to the family
  • read more
  • go back to writing
  • more sport

I've tried to be more specific in 2019 and pretty much succeeded in 4 out of these 5 points. Yep, you could easily guess it by looking at the publishing dates on this blog, I haven't written for a while but hey, it's not what I want to talk about this time.

One thing I've nailed down is my reading habit. I told myself last year to read at least 1 book a month [total being 12 at the end of the year - yep I know, I'm good at maths indeed]. I finally read 21 books in total. It made me very happy so I decided to read at least 2 books a month in 2020 [spoiler: I'm heavily on track].

Below's the list [from the first one I read to the last]:

  1. Papa pour la premiere fois [fr]
  2. J'accouche bientot: que faire de la douleur? [fr]
  3. Les gens heureux lisent et boivent du cafe [fr]
  4. Le journal de moi... papa [fr]
  5. Men, Love & Birth [en]
  6. Revenir a Lisbonne [fr]
  7. Barbarian Days: a surfing life [en]
  8. Ce qu'il reste de nos reves [fr]
  9. L'ecologie en bas de chez moi [fr]
  10. Une colere noire: Lettre a mon fils [fr]
  11. Petite Poucette [fr]
  12. L'alchimiste [fr]
  13. L'espionne [fr]
  14. Le tour du monde du roi Zibeline [fr]
  15. Check-point [fr]
  16. L'aventure, le choix d'une vie [fr]
  17. Le rugissant [fr]
  18. Hotel International [fr]
  19. Le grand roman des maths [fr]
  20. Montessori a la maison [fr]
  21. Electrochoc [fr]

Yep there is something funny indeed looking at this list: 5 books are related to birth & parenthood. Quite easy to guess what we went through last year haha. I also realise that I actually read a lot in french - only 2 books were in english - way more than I would have thought first [and this is probably due to the fact I read in english mainly everyday on the web]. 6 books are novels, which isn't bad for someone who never read this type initially [this is changing though]. My family always makes fun of me because they think I only read biographies but this represents only 5 books last year. There is actually one main topic included in most of these titles [parenthood aside]: travel. It's in 10 of these books [including the highest grade I gave]. 2 books are related to music.

I use a french website called SensCritique to keep track of what I read and rate everything [out of 10]. Average of these 21 books is 6.33. I gave two 9/10: J'accouche bientot & Le tour du monde du roi Zibeline. And I gave two 2/10: Papa pour la premiere fois & Le journal de moi... papa. I'm really disappointed so far in everything written for dads anyway. It's like the only angle for men if you want to tackle parenthood somehow is to treat them like dummies. I've no doubt there are great stuff out there but I still have to dig.

So, my top 3 recommendations from last year would be [parenthood aside of course]: (1) Le tour du monde du roi Zibeline (2) L'alchimiste (3) Le grand roman des maths.

Enjoy.