Search 'blog' for: #write365
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It's been a while since my last post. 1 I've definitely been in both a mental and creative funk – and not written anything as a consequence, despite a desire to do so. I know I need to write, for my own sanity if nothing else.

I've been struggling to find the right words so I've stopped searching for them and decided to just use the ones I have.

I started thinking about why I blog? Why do I put my words out there?

I have a lot of thoughts going round in my head on various topics (independent but ultimately related) yet making sense of them has proven to be a harder task than I expected.

I've had a couple of CBT sessions recently in which we've covered a lot of ground including my three biggest triggers:

  • boredom
  • frustration
  • impatience

(The last two are primarily with myself but can also relate to external factors.)

A way that's been suggested for me to deal with this is to have a pic'n'mix list of things I can switch to without much thought; if I start getting bored or frustrated or impatient I need to take a step back and revert to one of the items on that list.

Walk the dog, do the dishes, weed the garden, things that take me out of my head and can be meditative in their own right. Just do the action, no need to think about it.

Reset my thoughts, reset my mind, reset my mood.

With the B in CBT being behaviour I need to focus on mine. If I feel a trigger coming on then I can note it down and any NATs (Negative Automatic Thoughts) that crop up. Then I should write down alternative behaviours to the default so that I can see my defaults can be wrong/stupid/broken and I need not think like that.

A lot of my impatience and frustrations arise when I start something but either don't have the time or patience to finish or can't get things to match what's in my head. I've written before about being driven by mindset and emotion and if I don't finish what I'm doing then the moment (mindset and emotion) is lost and I can't recapture it. The therapist suggested making notes, jotting down bullet points to remind myself later but it came out in conversation that my mind doesn't work that way – I don't think in bullet points but in full sentences and paragraphs, sweeping, all-encompassing visions that I have to download in one go. That's why it's been so long and so hard to get this post out.

One suggestion has been to use the voice instead of the pen or keyboard as it is quicker to gets the ideas out by speaking them rather than typing or writing them down.

But back to why I blog...

In It's Only Words, when discussing the #write365 project, I wrote:

But by writing things down and, over time, making connections between them, I came to see that my behaviour was indicative of a much wider sequence of events.

Only by digging deeper every day, with one post leading to another and the next, did I come to realise the pattern of needing constant approval throughout my life.


When one behaviour ended I felt the need to fill my time with something else as if there was a void, an emptiness within me that required filling. With anything. Just so that I could feel whole and be praised by others for doing it.

I have speculated that this need for approval, for attention, was behind my blogging. Maybe, in part, it is; but the more I consider it the more I feel it is a deeper need to be seen – a cry for meaningful connection.

I brought this up in therapy alongside how and why I stopped using social media: toxicity, banality, stupidity, and empty gestures. I've had my issues with "minimum viable actions" (just liking or hearting something rather than actually responding) for years now.

I used to crave Likes and +1s, I used to be a real stat junkie, but that is a dangerous path to tread. I have since realised that numbers are only that, they cannot provide any true meaning or satisfaction. They may seem like approval but are hollow acts, largely meaningless due to their ease of use.

There should be more friction. The higher the friction (to a point) the more meaningful the response – someone has got to really want to reply and connect if it is harder to do so. Obviously, there will be a tipping point where friction becomes too great and even the most ardent of respondents will feel it not worth their time.

It's about finding a balance.

Kev wrote about his changing (deteriorating) relationship with social media:

I'm also thinking about unfollowing the remaining 40 people so that Mastodon becomes a mechanism for conversation around the posts I publish here, rather than a doom-scrolling shit show.

Isn't that a little selfish, though?

I have previously used 'selfish' in describing my relationship with platforms that I primarily use just as a means of distribution – just as Kev is considering. Last year I resisted the temptation to remove my RSS feed from my account after some mice comments but have now decided to do so (for a while at least) even though it is my main source of engagement.

I've come to terms with it. I can't consider my actions selfish if they're what I need to do. I'd rather be self-ish (an approximation of what I need to be) than self-less (not knowing who or what I am) and that takes some difficult decisions. Ones that I might not have been happy making before out of some misguided sense of obligation.

I need to work out what I'm doing with all of this, where it is going and what I expect from it. How I can fully transition from empty approval to genuine connection. I think that's a big thing missing in a lot of (my) online life.

I knew the time was right to get these thoughts down as my creativity seems to have been somewhat unblocked. Over the past few days I have managed to make some music that I was actually been pretty happy with so I knew things were changing, realigning. I'm relying on that change spreading here.

  1. thanks to those of you who emailed asking if everything was okay because I hadn't posted for a while 

23/05/2023 4:57pm

Zsolt Benke writes that "a compelling use case for a big iPhone and a small iPad mini is using them as a mobile writing environment" where most people consider them content consumption devices.

I couldn't agree more.

I have said for at least a decade now that my phone is my PC – that's primary computer – and almost everything I do happens there. Reading, writing, image editing, even coding.

I moved from the iPhone 4S (which was already central to my online life) to the Nexus 5 in December 2013 due to its larger screen and never looked back. 2014 saw me type around 110,000 words for the #write365 project alone. All on the phone. All using the on screen keyboard.

With screen sizes increasing, and the convenience of always having the it to hand, it became second nature to use the phone as my main writing environment. In fact, I usually have to force myself (as I am doing now) to write on the MacBook due to it not always being readily available and requiring a degree of preparation.

As Zsolt says, tapping away on a phone may seem "an ineffective way to write" but, just as the best camera is the one you have with you, the best writing environment is the one available and we quickly adapt to its limitations.

04/04/2023 2:47pm

Dave has written a couple of provocative posts stating 'why you stopped blogging' –spoiler alert, he blames social media.

Yes, I stopped 'blogging' and moved to Google+ for just over a year (I referred to it as social blogging) but that wasn't why I stopped posting on my own site.

I had become disillusioned with the process, with the quest for perfection, with making everything an essay. I tried to rein it back by posting "thoughts" (shorter posts) but needed to step away.

Moving to Google+ allowed a certain amount of freedom and reflection even if the #write365 project took its toll on me. I felt (and still feel) that I needed to see things from the outside to work out what I was going to do, what I needed to do; to realise what blogging really meant to me.

14/12/2022 7:10pm

It's Only Words, at last!

It's been over a year of procrastination and faffing so I thought I'd finally put my "book" project to bed. I was going to properly self-publish It's Only Words but that would involve getting permission to reprint sections from other people's works and I don't think I want to put myself through that process and incur even further delays.

It's Only Words cover

Instead, I'm just going to make it available here via the blog for anyone who wants to read it. I'll create a separate page for it over the next couple of days but, for now, you can use the below links:

The EPUB version won't open in Apple Books (it just doesn't like it) but seems fine in any other ebook reader.

For anyone unfamiliar, It's Only Words is me putting to rest the thoughts, ideas, angst and anguish that came with my #write365 project back in 2014. I vowed to write something, anything every day for a year of around 300 words. The subtitle is "Lessons learnt from a year of writing" and that is how this is presented.

That project became intensely personal and surfaced a number of issues for me (triggering extended mental health problems) so "Words" is a way of putting that all behind me.

There may still be typos or grammatical errors. It may not make perfect sense. You might enjoy it or hate it, agree with some points but vehemently disagree with others. That's fine – it's a starting point, a conversation starter and, more importantly, therapy.

I'm happy to finally share it with the world. Even if no one reads it at least I can say "I did that. Me!"

22/03/2022 11:21pm

Yesterday, I hit 300 consecutive days of posting to the blog. Admittedly, a lot of that has been posting about the blog but it's still a pretty solid run. A lot of what I've posted has been in typical microblogging mode but posting itself is now completely habitual – that and writing to the journal which, itself, is only three days away from 300 consecutive entries.

I've not posted this consistently since the #write365 project back in 2014, I think the most I had achieved in a row was about 200 days. The way things operate now I can't see any reason why I wouldn't post on any given day short of being physically unable.

07/10/2021 4:45pm

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.

05/05/2021 8:10pm

Happy Friday!

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.

16/04/2021 9:52am

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.

04/04/2021 11:26am

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 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.

27/03/2021 10:14am

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.

16/02/2021 11:39am
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