If you are here expecting a post that outlines genuine concerns that explain why there is nothing new on this blog, you may skip to the end and come back tomorrow. Here is a concise summary to help you on your way: I have convinced myself of multiple reasons to procrastinate writing over the past days, weeks, months, years, and this post chronicles my brain’s observations/attempts to procrastinate once more. I have merely prevented myself from doing this by writing an entire post about the thoughts in my head in real-time as I actively combated the procrastination monkey.
As you are undoubtedly aware, I have not been able to write on this blog continuously or consistently for the past two years. As you are also probably aware, I have grown to accept this and come to terms with it. This has meant understanding that on some days there are no words to write, and no stories to tell, or nothing I wish to share publicly into the void. It has meant giving myself the flexibility of being comfortable with not writing, which is vastly different from the two-three years I spent pushing myself to write. On some days, I query whether I did the right thing in relentlessly pursuing a blogpost everyday, especially if it has robbed me of things to say to the void, or to people in real life. On most other days, I give myself a free pass. I tell myself that writing has become like second nature to me, that because of the two years I wrote, the words will forever flow from my brain. Except, on reflection tonight, I know that is not the case. Words have gotten stuck, and I have become an editor more than I have been writing. I have critiqued drafts and not posted them, going fundamentally against the rules I set out when I started this blog. There have been so many reasons I’ve given myself for a holiday. I’ve written so many posts exactly like this one: for recent examples, see here, here, here, and here. All of them have the same theme with such little pay-off. I explain what’s going on, how I struggle with writing, and make a public commitment to write. Invariably I console myself by saying that I’ve been writing in private. I then go back to my ways and this blog sees no activity for a number of days. Then I come back. This cycle repeats. No constructive writing is done, nor am I wiser for this experience.
Therefore, today, I’ve decided to do something different. I’ve decided not to make a public commitment, but a more private commitment to writing everyday again. You may wonder at this point: Tejas, you’re writing on the blog, surely this is another public commitment? That is absolutely fair. Except, my intentions with this post are not to some audience (that is completely a figment of my imagination, only two people actually read this blog, and I currently live with both of them). This post is intended solely for me. I want to use this space to list every excuse and thought process my brain turned to before churning out what you are reading. My purpose with this is simple. Hopefully, by showing myself what I have thought, future me will rationalise that these thoughts are not constructive for writing, and begin to dismiss them whenever they emerge. This will mean hitting the reset button on a lot of habits that have developed in the two years I have been inactive, but I am certain it can happen.
So let’s get into it. Here’s everything I thought while writing this:
- Titles Suck: I have used horrible titles in the past that make posts unsearchable. How am I supposed to know what I have written when I have used the Day #/Date as the title? What have I conveyed? What purpose am I writing for? What is the point of a title if it does not communicate any of this to the audience, or to me? How am I supposed to search my own posts? What should I title this post? Titles Suck.
- Writing is Hard: I have written such pointless pieces on this blog. They communicate nothing, nor do they serve any grandiose purpose, despite my lofty ambitions for this blog and from my writing. What should I write today? Do I have anything valuable to say? Do I need to write only if I have something valuable to say? Can this be a journal entry privately instead of a blogpost? Do I need to realign the way I think about writing? Am I just a content creator if I am not writing impact-pieces? Have I ever written for the joy of writing?
- Deleting is Easy: It is far too easy to delete something because it does not live up to my expectations. Two keys and it is gone forever. How is the shortcut to delete something so simple, when there is no shortcut to create a piece of work? Oh, but I cannot possibly delete this now, that is hypocritical. Maybe I can save this as a draft and never come back to it, that is definitely the easier option
- Where are the Reviews?: Why are you not writing reviews of things you see/read? John Green wrote an entire book called The Anthropocene Reviewed that had the simplest premise, and you could have done it too, on your own blog, just commenting on stuff you have seen/experienced/lived through. Except you didn’t, and he did, and it was the execution of a marvellously simple concept, well done, that made it enjoyable. Why aren’t you writing reviews? Why isn’t this a review post?
And then I started typing, and the words have come out, and for today, this is all I have been able to produce. I know that this is probably a very disorganised post, that makes very little chronological sense (or any sense, to be honest), but this is what my brain has been thinking as it has been typing the words you see. To simplify, I have not written simply for one of three reasons:
- I have convinced myself that there is nothing that I am happy to write;
- I have convinced myself that what I am writing is far worse than what I could be writing instead – and proceeded to read about what I would rather be writing, instead of writing it – and then never written it [my drafts contain ideas for 10 Longform Essays];
- I have convinced myself that I can write at will, and therefore there is no loss that is born out of not writing today because I can come back to it tomorrow – and then never come back tomorrow.
Today, as you can see above, it appears that the excuse I wanted to lean on was #2.
The problem with these, in turn, is plain to see:
- If I do not write, it is impossible to say whether or not I will be happy with what I produce – it is only in the act of creating, or creativity, that one can assign value to the process or output. If I decide that irrespective of what I write, it is the fact that I am writing that makes me happy, which is actually the case – and does not need much contemplation – surely, it is easy to be happy just because I am writing. This is tautological and can be expressed more eloquently, so here: Writing makes me happy. That is enough to be writing, rather than finding something I attach “happiness” to be writing about. Therefore, I should be writing.
- There is no way to know this unless I write and compare two pieces. I historically do not compare two pieces. Therefore, I should be writing.
- I cannot. I am not a natural-born talented writer. I struggled to write essays and had to work on composition prompts relentlessly to find a writing rhythm that I could carry with me into exams when I studied English. I need to exercise my writing muscles if I want to be writing with ease. I struggled with writing the last post and the post before that because I am not someone who can write at will unless I force myself to write so frequently that it becomes an unconscious stream of words pouring out into paper/this void that is the internet. Therefore, I should be writing.
So, it is, therefore, that I am writing this. There is now time blocked off in the calendar to be writing, and a reminder to read this before I do that writing. Tomorrow, I should be writing. Will I be writing? Yes.