A New Leaf

It’s January, and therefore, New Year’s Resolution time once again. If you or anyone you know has EVER made a resolution and kept it, please let me know. Otherwise I’ll assume that, like mine and those of everyone I know, they seldom last longer than the first few weeks before being quietly forgotten.

My resolution is — or ought to be — about this blog. Some part of me desperately wants to do nothing but write. When people ask me what I do I really want to say, “Oh, I’m a writer.” I want to write blogs, articles, books, comedy scripts, and screenplays. But there’s a problem, and regular readers will by now be sick of hearing about it. I know, and I’m sorry, but given that I have resolved to update the blog every day from now on (it’ll never last) I have to write about what’s on my mind, and what’s on my mind is my seeming inability to write.

Bit of a vicious circle eh?

I love the thought of sitting down at my keyboard and letting wondrous prose tumble from my fingertips, to the adoration of my hordes of fans. But it’s not that easy. I set quite high standards for myself, so while it would be easy for me to post something new every day what stops me is my internal quality control. The feeling that anything I don’t put sufficient concentration towards is going to be, well, crap stops me from doing it at all, unless I am suffiiciently inspired to go the extra mile. And it does feel like The Extra Mile. It feels like to write posts to my own imposed standard requires a clarity of focus and a banishment of all other distractions that I can seldom achieve. There’s always another thought banging into the first, knocking it off course. Or something on the TV, or the irrational need to check my email for the hundredth time that day. Or cooking the dinner, or going to the pool. Or work (nearly forgot that one).

So, I find myself locked in this interminable internal quarrel: To write the best stuff I have to be in a place (mentally) that I can seldom get into — which means the blog hardly ever gets fed and you get fed up of waiting, so to feed the blog regularly and keep my readers happy(?) I have to spew out the first thing that comes into my head, which leaves me feeling that I’ve let you down.

Of course, the text books would say that I’m going about it wrong: that I need to set aside a regular period of each day for writing and shut myself away from all distractions. When I think about I agree that would be absolutely the best thing for me to do. So why aren’t I doing it? I think my self-defeating avoidance tactics are rooted in a lack of confidence, always seeking to find external forces to blame for my lack of output.

If this were all this blog were ever about, would you still come to visit, or would you make polite excuses — like those hurriedly invented to decline the invitations of an old and smelly relative to whom you were never particularly close?


About Chris Neal

Personal Technology Consultant. Tailored services and advice for people who want more from their technology.
This entry was posted in Writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A New Leaf

  1. Joe Lima says:

    I am ok with any musing you might have. Why not try telling stories around photos? Give some context and perspective to the photos you post on FB. I always found the posts on life in SA to be fascinating.

  2. Rob J says:

    Hi Chris.
    I perfectly understand the whole “internal quality control stops anything” problem. The way I get around that is to have an editor. When I write Rob’s Office Tips (shameless plug http://www.robsofficetips.com ) I send them to a mate of mine. He tells me what works and what doesn’t. I don’t always agree with him, and I don’t always do what he suggests, but it helps me get to a finish point.
    Something else that I have found helps with a finish is a crippling word limit. I make sure each post is between 290 & 310 words. Makes it really hard, but it helps limiting things to a couple of ideas.
    BUT those are comedy articles / humour column kind of stuff. When I was doing my blog about how much I hated the gym (the tl;dr version of which is “a lot”) I didn’t do any of this. Wrote long rambling posts only when I felt like it, and didn’t get then edited. So I guess it all depends on what kinds of things you might be looking at writing.

    Helpful? No. Sorry.

    • Chris Neal says:

      Thanks for the advice Rob. Perhaps we could edit each other? 🙂

      • Rob J says:

        I’m actually a very bad editor. I miss some things, and have this real self-conscious “who am I to tell someone else what to do” kind of attitude which an editor can’t have. I think you need to be fairly blunt and to the point to be able to edit, and I’m far too wishy washy and blabby to do that.

        Through the wonders of Google Analytics I saw that you visited the Office Tips (well, someone from Luanda did). Cheers, I hope you enjoyed them.
        I had a strong start to the year writing them last year, but petered off towards the end. I have come back this year with a bit of vim, though, so here’s hoping I can keep it up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s