The Blogging Habit

by Charles Miller on February 11, 2004

At some point over the last two months, I seem to have slipped out of the blogging habit somewhat. I think it's the change of job more than anything else: it's disrupted my routine enough that I haven't quite adjusted to getting the other bits of my brain into place again. I tend to come home from work, sit down and think: "Should I write something? Watch TV? Play on the X-Box? Mess around with Reason? Chat on IRC? Work on some of my own code? Buy a fluffy white cat, steal two nuclear warheads and blackmail the British government?"

Well, the last one, at least, is out of the question -- my lease doesn't allow pets.

It turns out it is possible to spend five hours trying to work out what you're going to do with those five hours, and failing. I should just go to the pub more often. At least then I'm committing to doing something.

I'm going to try to do something about that. I blog because I enjoy writing, and because the exercise of putting my thoughts (or stupid stories) into words keeps my brain ticking over. Writing is often a process of examination: forcing myself to formulate what I really think. Other times, it's just a fun release. And as exciting as writing release notes can be, it's not quite the same kind of fun. :)

Or possibly, 2003 was an abberation, and I'm stepping back to a more reasonable level. I did a count-back over the new year, and my output was, at least in volume, enough for a good-sized novel. I doubt it though, because I'm starting to get to the stage where I'm finding myself twitching to write something.

I don't want to force myself to write, that would be totally missing the point. I just feel I should be organising my life slightly better so I'm in a position where it happens naturally again.

I remember once reading a FAQ about lucid dreaming: training yourself to notice you are dreaming, so you then have the power to manipulate the dream from within. I used to be pretty good at lucid dreaming as a teenager, and then sort of lost the knack in my early 20's. The FAQ said that learning to lucid dream is all about learning to notice when you're dreaming: to always be questioning reality just enough that when you're no longer in reality, you can tell. We spend all day (and much of the night) processing the input of our senses, but how often do we examine that input and ask how reliable it is?

The blogging habit, for me, is similar. You spend all day thinking. And being an incurable introvert, I tend to spend a lot of time inside my own head. Learning to blog was a process of learning to look at that stream of thoughts and recognise which ones should be expanded upon and written about. It's that habit that seems to be evading me at the moment: the ideas are slipping away before I recognise them for what they're worth.

I'm tempted to see if a change of format will break my routine enough to make me write more. Maybe if I snarfed a Confluence license for personal use, the plunge into non-linearity would be a jump-start...

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