I have finally stumbled into something slower than me when I write and it is not even human. It is my Wifi connection in the dorm. As it sputters to life and leaves my cursor pointing to an aquatic blue orb, I figured I’d just rather get this cat off my chest than wait for my blog to load. [This is the sort of situation where Evernote rescues you.]
Asemic writing, the Truant Jedi says. And that post got me thinking. Not just because a lot of thing he says are complicated, interlaced layers of shite and sense and not just because a semi-permanent blog allows me to accuse him of ruining my life the interwebs way more often, but also because it scooted along till I paused to reflect at what I am doing in the name of writing here.
Almost a year back, I had set off with gusto to blog. I followed all these fancy blogs on blogs with a bajillion banners staring and seductively waving at me and telling me what to do. I signed up for an equally uncountable number of newsletters for ‘free ebooks on blogging tips’ and ‘Do’s and Don’ts.’ This may not be my first blog, but hey, I want you to like my blog. I really, really want you to like my blog. Everyday. Without fail.
Introspection and common sense dictate that this is the internet’s answer to people-pleasing. Headlines, SEO, writing schedules, topics, List posts, How to Make Money From your Blog, Blah Look You Think I Make Sense! Blah.
I feel incalculably small. For a long while, I was all if only I could start over again, I promise I won’t listen to any of those smart sounding people. I would remind myself why I decided to blog in the first place. It wasn’t necessarily to push people onto my blog and get the most number to read stuff I write; I wrote because I wanted to. I wrote about whatever went on in my head.
Of course, the blogs about blogs also told me some good and bad practices about writing online since writing on paper has clearly a different criterion for being judged as a good piece of writing. It’s good to use images once in a while, they told me, and I agree. Text gets boring after a while.
Hyperlink but avoid opening them in different tabs. I find new tabs annoying too. Because I pushed my around way more often as a writer, I am able to think beyond the love saga/everlasting friendship storyline I had always envisioned myself authoring when I was smaller and the idea of love made my head turgid with more ideas.
But gradually, I lost contact with my creativity, really. Over the next few months, I grew obsessed with the idea of writing more frequently and on varied topics and feverishly spinning posts. WordPress’ congratulatory messages after publishing almost egged me on with shiny quotes and milestones with the zealousness of a high school cheerleader in minis.
I began to write… ruthlessly.
And as I would visit other blogs and checkout their sitemaps, I’d try this page and that post and that widget; if it was coherent enough with my eventual concept of a weblog, it would stick, else wither away as I changed themes and pondered over things to write on.
I started off wanting to sell my writing and in that manner, a bit of who I am. In the wrongest ways and on the most boring of things possible. Even now if I were to dig through my archives, I would probably send myself a message on Facebook asking myself why I would ever be so boring on the internet when I can be worth listening to when I type and when my Evernote notebook that says blog has over 75 really cool ideas waiting to be written on.
This post is then like a call to go back to the logging my thoughts and staying closer to the landscape my fiery neurons are familiar and from thereon discover all that I want to.
I have begun detesting writing for anything. This, from a time when I’d claim I could write for hours on end and I really could. Writing became another chore to be ticked off my to do list. I would often catch myself rescheduling my writing of posts and scold myself. Gather my head and shuffle it a little, then type, almost as if to prove to myself that it is safe to, I would write.
Somewhere, I was wary of expressing myself clearly lest the blog turn into the personal diary I often made fun of online. My definition of a blog was that which entertained. It was purely for someone leisurely clicking through pages and scrolling through your fancy fonts and following your Twitter feed.
I went missing from my blog really quick.
Passions and hobbies and work are really important elements of an individual’s life. Come adulthood, a host of new responsibilities and style of survival get activated and quite often, that translates into dodgy balance between life and work. Will I be able to code as often as I do now, after I move away for higher studies?
Or will I be able to blog or make sense or both once I start earning?
These are the sort of questions some people began addressing a while back and whisked up quite the storm over it. While on one hand, Sheryl Sandberg claims you can have it all, particularly in context of working mothers who struggle with unfulfilling family lives (often) and work. A woman who left a position of power, Anne Marie Slaughter on the other, says here you cannot have it all — and you don’t need to.
One side says ambition is lacking in the current generation which seems to be giving up on achievement and success, the other says that whichever arrangement makes you happy and keeps things going is the one.
Isn’t that an individual choice after all? Woman or not, whether you decide to be the cat lady or a mother to five toddlers or a single father or an unmarried superachiever, it all boils down to deriving the most from one’s life, really. No matter how successful these people are and no matter what worked for them, it may not necessarily work for you. Or me.
But very often, I tend to mechanize the act of doing things that I love and chances are you have done it sometime too. This is not an act of will, this is the foot of our brain stuck in the rut of overanalysis and routine.
How am I kicking the habit?
I give myself no more than 5 seconds to make decisions.
So when I want to write, at the very most I schedule the days I will (undergraduate school can be unforgiving) and then forget all how-to advice and switch the left brain off and write.
By now, you have no clue how happy, as I think, my fingers feel pushing buttons on the keyboard in a synchronized break dance.