I’ve taken a few months off writing daily and although I just recently published a book and feel like I’m a better writer now than I was at the start of 2018, I can feel my writing muscles atrophying a bit and want to commit to writing daily again.
Writing is a very strange thing to me. It’s one of the few activities I at once never grow tired of and yet am never quite satisfied with. Whether I like something I wrote in the past depends greatly on the particular day I’m looking at it, and whether I feel like I’m a competent writer or an amateur likewise changes a good deal from moment to moment. I think sometimes this constant pull back and forth is perhaps the reason I’ve struggled to write daily these past few months. Much better to only experience it once or twice a week than daily!
But in the end of the day, the only things that matter are the things you did do and the things you didn’t do but should have done. And when I think about my writing and incredible things it has brought my life, it’s easy to realize that any dissatisfaction can only go down to a certain point.
If it’s not perfect, well, at least it’s done. And at least I’ll have a record of all the imperfections I brought into the world over the years. Perhaps there will even be a few lasting pieces in there too. Almost anyone could hit a baseball well once in a while if they took enough swings.
There’s a story about quantity over quality in David Bayles and Ted Orland’s book, Art & Fear:
The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
This is something we recognize in fitness easily — it’s better to do 50 pushups a day if the other option is obsessing over fitness plans and getting nothing done — yet with writing, and frankly any so-called “creative activity” (I hate that we have this weird distinction between creative and non-creative) we don’t apply that same standard.
I met a high school student at a conference I spoke at a while back who told me she wants to be a writer but she won’t publish anything until she considers herself to be “good” at writing. I reminded her that this was like a fat person abstaining from going to the gym until they’ve lost weight. It’s a comically stupid plan and I hope she got the point and has started publishing now because she will never become a great writer unless she produces a lot of junk first.
And I too want to be a great writer. The list of books I want to write grows longer and longer and I want to do it right by my standards and for my readers. The only thing I’ve known that helps me make progress towards getting there is daily blogging, and so let us begin again starting today.
Now a word on what you can expect as a reader of this blog…I’m unsure. Of course, I’ll continue writing about Bitcoin (BCH and BTC), my hatred for credentialism, charlatanism and college, thoughts on writing, personal notes and updates, but perhaps a lot more as well.