Editing normally involves cutting things out, trimming them down and simplifying. I am hoping to go the other way by adding more extracts from the #write365 project as I feel that there needs to more of an impact from the source material.
The past couple of days have seen progress on the final chapter of (or should I say conclusion to) the writing project. I have used extracts of posts from the #write365 project all the way through (they serve as a foundation for the whole thing) but yesterday saw me using the whole of one particular post, albeit with a slight rewrite. It laid out a story that perfectly introduced what I didn't previously know I was trying to say.
This morning, I started adding a couple of bullet points to my notes and had somewhat of a revelation – some may see it as overly twee but I believe it encapsulates my entire message in just a couple of sentences. I suppose that's the thing with conclusions, they're supposed to bring the threads together in such a way that you don't really need to read everything that comes before. Intro and extro, everything else is decoration.
The sense of release from knowing that the blog package works must have unclogged the mental pathways – after not being able to write more than a few notes for days I have managed to knock out about 600 words this morning, a good start to Chapter 11, a chapter that was really causing me problems.
The relief is palpable.
I've been crossing off the days having at least contributed something to the project but felt a pang of guilt for doing so when those contributions amounted to little more than a sentence or a couple of bullet points. It feels good to have writing something more substantial.
In Chapter 10 I was writing about the self-imposed pressure to write every day during the #write365 project while putting the same pressures upon myself now. It seems natural to want to keep a habit going by means of repetition but is that always the best way? Oliver Burkeman, author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking (which is in my "to read" stack) wrote about acting Dailyish rather than every day:
it involves surrendering the thrilling fantasy of yet-to-be-achieved perfection in favour of the uncomfortable experience of making concrete progress, here and now ... it isn't synonymous with "just do it as often as you can"; deep down, you know that if you never average more than a day or two per week on your novel/fitness plan/meditation practice/side business/whatever, then you won't acquire the momentum to move forward. "Dailyish" involves applying more pressure to yourself than that.
This is where his definition of pressure and mine diverge. The crucial distinction, he says, is that "it's a matter of pressure rather than of forcing." Putting pressure on yourself to do something as often as you can is vastly different from forcing yourself to turn up every day whether the will, enthusiasm or inspiration is there or not.
Pressure good, forcing bad – in an Orwellian/Animal Farm style aphorism.
I shouldn't feel guilt. If I am going to hold myself to daily contributions then I should accept that some, to continue the theme, will be more equal than others. But all are equally valid and ultimately contribute to the whole.
Today marks the fifth anniversary of my decision to reboot the blog after more than two years away. I went from 23rd November 2013 to 27th March 2016 with only one post in February 2014 to explain why there were no posts. That's the longest break I've ever taken, and there have been a few.
I was still writing – 2014 witnessed the #write365 project on Google+ while I later switched my focus to Medium, but I wasn't blogging. I regret that sometimes but knew that I needed the time to reflect and change what I was doing and, more importantly, how I was doing it. I missed the blog and, for some reason, March 2016 seemed the right time to return home.
Maybe I wasn't quite ready; despite knowing that the blog was where I belonged I still didn't write that often, maybe I was feeling my way back in but the posts were quite sporadic, often with weeks between them. It wasn't until after I'd stopped using Twitter at the end of 2016 and was then inspired to mix things up by stumbling across the micro.blog Kickstarter in Jan 2017 that things started to develop.
Mixing longer pieces and micro-posts was the first real push-back against the "everything has to be an essay" style of blogging that had ultimately driven me away from it all in 2013 and likely caused much of the reticence to dive back in on my return.
How things have changed.
It hasn't all been plain sailing since but I am probably the most content with regards to blogging that I have ever been, especially since the move to my own custom system – I finally feel in control.
This morning's writing session was the perfect coming together of notes, #write365 pieces, old blog posts and even a muse-letter. If nothing else it shows a consistent theme stretching back over the past 7 years or so. It makes the process so much easier when you have already done a lot of the work and just have to piece it together.