July 6, 2010

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Thoughts on writing and starting again

Rominia asked:

I’m one of those people who start on a diary or a blog, so excited about it, but never seem to follow through. How come you’re so uhm, prolific in writing? I never figured you to be a writer in high school.

It’s a good thing writing isn’t just reserved for writers, or I’d be intimidated by it too. =) If you come back and read this blog often, you might notice that it’s mostly me thinking out loud, even if I’m not being really clear and concise. The trick is to write first, and leave polishing for later.

There are different ways to approach editing. One way is to think long and hard, and don’t publish anything until it’s perfect. Result: very few things published. Another way is to keep repeating yourself until the core message floats to the top. Result: lots of seeds for people to think about and learn from.

Think of it like sketching. You could try to draw everything perfectly the first time around, or you can draw lightly and darken the lines as the shape emerges.

I need to take notes, or I’ll forget. I need to take more notes, actually, because otherwise I waste the time and energy I’ve already invested in the experience.

For example, I had a great chat yesterday about some career opportunities. One of the things that made it even awesomer was that I did my homework, looking up things related to the job and anticipating potential topics of discussion. That was fun. =)

I could have let that moment slip past without writing down a quick summary, but writing it down means that I can review it later on to get a sense of what works well for me. I could also save it in my private files without publishing it on my blog, but who knows if sharing that will encourage people to do their homework for conversations too, or will invite people to share their tips with me?

And if you’ll bear with the meta-ness of this post: this is something I’ve written about before and I write about again in the future. The more I share, the better I figure out how I want to say and how I want to say it. (Like that phrase, which I’ve been using since at least 2008.) =)

So those are some quick thoughts on being prolific. Adjust your filters. Share more rather than less. But there’s also the challenge of starting again after you stop.

Don’t let the fear of stopping stop you from starting. If you’re afraid that your blog or journal will fall into disuse, go ahead and start it anyway. Never be embarrassed about starting again.

The sketchbook I occasionally carry around has mindmaps and diagrams from 2007. I still have a number of blank pages to go, and I have other notebooks I’d started (and finished, for some) in the meantime. It’s okay. I don’t beat myself up for stopping. I just enjoy starting again.

There’s a big gap between November 2001, when I started publishing my notes, and June 2002, when I started again. It’s okay. I don’t beat myself up for stopping. I just enjoy starting again.

I’ve had many interests. Sewing, for example – I played around with it a little in grade school, and then I dropped it completely. I got back into it again two years ago or so. I’m having fun starting again.

Every moment is an opportunity to start. Don’t focus on the failure, focus on the future.

Also: check out Refuse to Choose and The Renaissance Soul. It’s reassuring to know that people like us – who love learning new things and have perhaps been discouraged by how easily we get distracted – are actually pretty okay. =)