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Writing Day 26 – On Writing Days

I started writing regularly 26 days ago.

I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I did know I wanted to build a practice of sticking to things; something I feel I’m sorely lacking in, as each new “ooh, shiny!” flits across my field of vision.

And I know I want to build something like this!

Nearly a month in, I think I’m barely scratching the surface.
But it definitely isn’t as bad as it was when I started.
And it definitely isn’t as bad as I thought it’d be.
It’s beginning to feel like I can do this, but there is still quite a ways to go.

I’ve definitely felt like giving up tonnes of times.
But I’ve read that even when I don’t feel like it, I ought to just do it.
Do the bare minimum1. Don’t break the chain.

I might decide to drop the tag next year2, but I fervently hope, this leads to writing being as much as part of me, as reading is.

And I hope it leads me to something like this.

I haven’t missed a day in many, many years—the discipline of sharing something daily is priceless. Sometimes there are typos. I hope that they're rare and I try to fix them.

Over time, the blog adds up. People remember a blog post a year after I wrote it. Or they begin a practice, take an action, make a connection, something that grows over time. The blog resonates with people in so many fields, it’s thrilling to see how it can provoke positive action.

It’s true that I’d write this blog even if no one read it, but I want to thank you for reading it, for being here day after day. It's more fun that way. There are more than a million subscribers, and, best I can tell, people read this in nearly every country in the world.


  1. Most posts now, certainly feel like it. 

  2. The aim, now is to have 365 posts tagged, daily-writing. 

Strong!

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The world breaks everyone, and afterward many are strong in the broken places.

— Ernest Hemingway


Writing Day 24 – Why I Love My Insights

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I’ve come across several a-has in life all on my ownsome.

I struggled with credit cards and debt and realised much of what were Dave Ramsey’s baby steps and later Taleb’s thoughts on optionality all on my own.

When I read about them later, it was a huge boost of Hell Yeah!

While I do realise that life is to short to learn by experience, and that most of my “original” thoughts will have been thought of long before I ever did, it’s such a high to arrive at an insight all on my ownsome.

Figuring out something by experience or by reason is fun :)

It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise.
William Deresiewicz


Writing Day 23 – On the Need for Mental Rigour

I’ve been learning Maths and daydreaming about careers in Mathematics
I loved the idea of being a pure Mathematician and then realised that path was not for me. My head hurts when I focus on my Maths work :P

But then it struck me how much of Maths & Science was done by people in their spare time, by tinkering and thinking long and hard and with focus on or about something.
So many folks had day jobs that had little to nothing to do with their work and the accomplishments they were known for.

Einsteing was technical assistant examiner at the Swiss Patent Office.
Newton was Master of Coin.
Fermat was a lawyer.
Descartes was a soldier and then lived off investments
Mendel was a priest
Hooke was an architect
Da Vinci was forever doing stuff for various dukes and Popes and it’s a wonder, he found time for Maths and all the other revolutionary stuff he penned down.

Which then led me to thinking … they must have worked in their spare time to do this. It must have tested their will. And it must have been hard.

“I have used the involuntary house arrest around Easter to solve the equation”

Schrödinger, on the degree of concentration he needed in order to solve an equation relating to Einstein's general relativity

Which led me to wonder …
What kept them going?
They must have has some quality that contributed to these towering feats of mental acuity.

And then it struck me, what Cal Newport was banging on about with his idea of Deep Work.

Theirs was an age of Willpower!
They were masters of the skill.
That was my secondary observation from the book.

“The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts.”

— Charles Darwin

Forget the geniuses, even amongst Freud’s ordinary patients

The Victorian middle-class citizens … had intensely strong wills, making it difficult for therapists to break through their ironclad defenses and their sense of what was right and wrong.

So I’m off, to build willpower, like Calvin does. (as did his old original)

P.S.
Orthogonally related: Just ran into this post on Shane’s blog.