Writing About Not Writing

Discount signs in a shop window

Under Construction Grunge Sign by Nicolas Raymond — CC BY 2.0

Every year, around this time of year, I start doing two things. First, I start thinking I could really start to understand monads and write more than toy programs in Haskell. This is unlikely to ever actually happen unless and until I get a day job where I can justify writing useful programs in Haskell, but Advent of Code always gets me thinking otherwise.

Second, I start mentally writing this same post. You know, the one about how the blogger in question hasn’t had much time to write but will be back soon?

“Sorry I haven’t written much lately…”

It’s about as cliché as a Geocities site with a permanent “Under construction” GIF. At some point, not long after the dawn of ~time~ the internet, most people realised that every website was permanently under construction and publishing something not ready to be published was just pointless.

So I figured this year I’d actually finish writing it and publish it. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?

If we’re getting all reflective about this, I could probably suggest some reasons why I’m not writing much:

For a start, there’s a lot going on in both my world and The World right now, which doesn’t leave a lot of spare energy after getting up, eating, housework, working and a few other necessary activities. As a result, I’m easily distracted and I tend to let myself get dragged off in other directions before I even get to writing much of anything. If I do manage to focus on this blog in general, I’ll often end up working on some minor tweak to the theme or functionality.

I mean, right now I’m wondering if I can do something clever in my text-editor (Emacs, since you’re asking) to streamline my writing & editing process so it’s more elegant, efficient, ergonomic and slightly closer to perfect in every way.

It also makes me much more likely to self-censor, and to indulge my perfectionist tendencies to try and tweak the writing until it’s absolutely perfect, which of course never happens. I’ve got a whole heap of partly-written posts that are juuuust waiting for the right motivation for me to just finish them off.

The only real solution is to accept that:

  1. I’m not going to write much and that’s probably OK
  2. What I do write won’t always be the work of carefully-researched, finely crafted genius that I want it to be, and that’s probably OK too

Also to remember why I started writing and publishing stuff in the first place: to reflect and get my thoughts out onto a (virtual) page so that I can see them, figure out whether I agree with myself and learn; and to stimulate discussion and get other views on my (possibly uninformed, incorrect or half-formed) thoughts, also to learn. In other words, a thing I do for me. It’s easy to forget that and worry too much about whether anyone else wants to read my s—t.

Will you notice any changes? Maybe? Maybe not? Who knows. But it’s a new year and that’s as good a time for a change as any.


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