Wednesday, September 25 2019

writing

807 words

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Dear Journal,

Good morning everyone! Hope you are having a wonderful morning so far, and I hope you have a chance to go outside before it gets muggy. A few minutes ago, I was standing in the backyard, herding Zig-Zig around.

I’m working from home this morning, meaning I can add an extra half hour into the morning routine. I’m beginning this entry at 7:30, and as always I’m going to write for a half hour before jumping in the shower. I think I’m getting good at the morning journaling system. A few days ago, I passed up my previous record for days-in-a-row, and I have all the intentions to keep the party going. Although it occurred to me yesterday that there might be a problem in the statistics I’m publishing. Those only pertain to journal entries I published - I still have a few months of private entries that I’m ignoring. I’m still debating whether or not to incorporate those. While the total word count would shoot up, the average daily word count - the metric I’m most proud of - would probably tank. A lot of my entries in the first few month of this experiment were only a few hundred words. These days, I try to shoot for 700-800, and it always surprises me how I get there. Some mornings the words come easy. I’ll have a good story, or a salient observation, and before I know it I’m pushing 800 words and I’m five minutes over time, then winding things down poses a challenge. Some mornings I feel stuck staring at an empty emacs buffer, and even though I should have started writing five minutes ago, I just don’t know what to say. Tragically, I’ll sometimes write a paragraph, then grow kind of tired of it and delete it altogether.

Writing is messy, isn’t it? I wish it were as easy as it looks in the movies. Each morning would probably start with a music montage of me typing, and by the time the song was over the camera would pan out from my completed journal entry on the screen to me leaning back in my chair drinking coffee. Then I’d dramatically power off the computer and exit the camera shot. Smash cut to me sandwiched between to fellow commuters on the bus, then another smash cut to me walking to work on the square. The square isn’t that busy in the morning, so we’d have to fill it with movie extras to make it appear like a bustling metropolis that never sleeps. Our city of Madison flies in the face of that - some days I think it goes to bed early and even sleeps in on the weekends.

I don’t remember where I was going with that. Ah now I do - writing is messy. It feels like wrestling, arguing, and maybe even a little like fighting a bully. It feels like wringing out a sponge of words through a filter of what I’m allowed to say, what would be interesting to say, and what I actually want to say.

It gets exciting when you write yourself into a corner, and you have no choice but to write your way out. For example, even though I came prepared with a small list of topics like “groceries”, “cleaning”, and “pop music”, at this point I pretty much have to throw the list out and commit to writing an entire entry about writing. And that’s great, because honestly I think I write about the mundane day-to-day things just to keep the engine warm. Writing is probably the most fulfilling when you accidentally find yourself processing something completely new - when you have a brand new thought as you’re typing it out. You obviously can’t count on that happening. And I just deleted the list, I think it’s safe to say we’re in the end game now, and we just need to wrap this baby up.

This felt good, and this morning I learned that I don’t take enough time to feel grateful for the writing process. I fall into the habit of understating its importance in my life. I don’t need to make excuses for writing. Journaling isn’t just a cute way to get primed for the day or a means of keeping your friends and family up to date. I admit that I do it because I enjoy writing, and I want to get better at it. And I want to get to the point where I write about something completely new every day - not just new to you, but to me as well.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful day today.