I don't want to write today. Or specifically this evening, just a few hours shy of midnight, with a couple of beers down the hatch. I want to read, or just get an early night. Or what would have been an early night when I first sat down to write this. My brain is tired and my eyes are blurry. Instead I am facing down an empty white box, one which is slowly being filled with words. At a certain point when I judge that it's time for a pause, I will hit enter.
That pause didn't help. It felt like an invitation to stop. All day I've reflecting on my life in between catching fragments of other people's on Twitter and Facebook, and now it feels like I have nothing left to give from my own.
So now I am writing about writing. The previous sentence was in the middle of the previous paragraph before, but I just moved it here. Writing at the end of the day doesn't work for me, clearly. I need to get back to my early morning stints, before breakfast, before the rest of the house is awake, before the rest of the world has infiltrated my brain. But not having optimal conditions to write in is not a good enough excuse for me right now. I'm committed to writing 1,000 words a day, and today is day 26 of 30, so I'm going to write anything and everything I can think of until my quota is full. Hopefully somewhere in the jumble of words a few ideas will emerge, if I'm lucky.
Brushing my teeth is a twice daily automated habit. 5 minutes a day of scrubbing at least. Pretty much without fail. What could 5 minutes a day of writing achieve? Maybe I could brush my teeth and write at the same time? Sometimes I brush my teeth with my eyes closed and standing on one leg, to test my balance. Try it. It's much harder than you might think. But if you do difficult things on a daily basis, they become easier.
Another pause. I just went to visit some other tabs in my browser. And then I spent a few minutes browsing my "File me" folder. There's an entire folder within that folder of my desktop from a day in January earlier this year. I don't know why I'm telling you that. Actually I do... I need to write 1,000 words before midnight and it's the only thing I'm thinking about right now. It turns out there was nothing useful at all in that folder, so I just trashed the entire thing. Isn't it funny how people's behaviour on computers mirrors real life? (Or maybe it's not). I'm not that much of a hoarder in the physical realm, but when it comes to file systems instead of actual storage systems, I don't like to get rid of things. Maybe that will become a problem one day. Not for myself, but for anyone who wants to try and make sense of my digital life when I'm gone. Maybe my computer should be cremated with me. One thing is for sure, if I'm buried in the ground (and I don't want to be, by the way), it's going to hang around for a long time, rusting slowly long after my flesh has rotted away.
Writing seems to have become marginally easier since I started doing it every day. I can't say that I have a 100% strike rate though. Usually on the days when I try extra hard to write something that other people will find interesting, they don't. Who wants to read an article about me thinking I was an alien? Not many people. What do people want to read about anyhow? (You should all be writing, anyhow. If everyone was writing there wouldn't be so much time left for reading though).
I don't know.
I'm getting angry now. I just hit the table with my fist.
I should have started writing this morning, or at least drafted some ideas on my lunch break. (You did spend your lunch writing a newsletter though, remember?) Ok, when I got home then, instead of going to the pub.
One great thing about writing long chunks of text is that you can assume relatively few people are reading them. I could say pretty much anything right now, safe in the knowledge that no-one other than a search engine bot is reading it. One day maybe search engine bots will become sentient. Like Skynet in the Terminator movies, only less dangerous because they wouldn't be able to send humanoid robots back in time to kill an earlier version of myself. Maybe I am capable of writing something so offensive that Google might need to do this. Now that would be good writing. I hope you're reading this Google. I hope you're reading this, NSA agents. This article is about to get seriously nasty. Ok, not really.
Why bother to write at all then, especially if I'm writing drivel? According to Wired Magazine, "even the worst bloggers are making us smarter" And when you publish to the internet, you have a fighting chance of making the transition from talking only to yourself, to talking to other people. A transition which has huge significance apparently:
Many people have told me that they feel the dynamic kick in with even a tiny handful of viewers. I’d argue that the cognitive shift in going from an audience of zero (talking to yourself) to an audience of 10 (a few friends or random strangers checking out your online post) is so big that it’s actually huger than going from 10 people to a million.
So, don't write just for yourself, write for an audience. Even if that audience is imaginary for now. Write every damn day if you can. It's not a choice — it's an obligation — to yourself, to your thoughts, to the clarity of those thoughts and to the audience you don't know exists yet.
Posted to writing in 2013.