'Why is it so hard for really smart people to write well? One of the reason is: they have 20 years of bad habits.' That whole clip from Larry McEnerney is really worth a watch. Every time I watch it, I instantly get the urge to jump here, write and publish. And yet, while I contemplate the idea of writing and publishing every damn day for so long, I still never succeed to implement it in my life.
'I never considered myself a writer.' This is how Austin introduced their latest Public Record on Metalabel: Lonely Writers Club. Of course that resonated. I never considered myself a writer neither. And even though for Austin, everything apparently changed from 2019 onwards, I still don't consider one myself. That being
said written, I did notice (and experience) the power of writing myself. And I did try a few times in the past to grow that side of me.
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
The best way to think: write.— Web Smith (@web) June 17, 2020
The best way to build: write.
The best way to learn: write.
The best way to teach: write.
Complex thoughts, plans, or ideas become clear.
Why am I doing this? It's a forcing function to:— Gonz (@gonsanchezs) May 21, 2020
- read more
- think more
- write more
But here's the real reason: it cuts my feedback cycle + chances of being wrong from weekly (the newsletter) to daily (Twitter).https://t.co/kNAROqgwwR
To be continued