24 January 2021

Habit of Writing Without Publishing

Writing is a pleasurable hobby. It's an easy job. A cup of tea. It gets difficult only when we plan to publish it. Suddenly. Then we spend hours watching the cursor blinking (like I'm doing right now). Writing a line. Deleting it. Editing even before anything is written at all. I ambush my own thoughts and words before they come out. I stop myself from writing. 

My Old Journal Notebooks

The following anecdotal story from Atomic Habit opened my eyes;


The Danger of Aiming for Perfection

On the first day of class, Jerry Uelsmann, a professor at the University of Florida, divided his film photography students into two groups.

Everyone on the left side of the classroom, he explained, would be in the “quantity” group. They would be graded solely on the amount of work they produced. On the final day of class, he would tally the number of photos submitted by each student. One hundred photos would rate an A, ninety photos a B, eighty photos a C, and so on.

Meanwhile, everyone on the right side of the room would be in the “quality” group. They would be graded only on the excellence of their work. They would only need to produce one photo during the semester, but to get an A, it had to be a nearly perfect image.

At the end of the term, he was surprised to find that all the best photos were produced by the quantity group. During the semester, these students were busy taking photos, experimenting with composition and lighting, testing out various methods in the darkroom, and learning from their mistakes. In the process of creating hundreds of photos, they honed their skills. Meanwhile, the quality group sat around speculating about perfection. In the end, they had little to show for their efforts other than unverified theories and one mediocre photo.

This story revealed to me where I got messed. I was expecting too much from every piece I was attempting to write. I was not allowing myself to enjoy the process of writing because I was too focused on publishing it. I needed to start writing for the love of writing without the nagging pressure of publishing on my blog or anywhere on social media. I needed to do some private writings, ones that are not to be made public in any form. 

When I finally did that I found it extremely liberating. The spontaneity of my thoughts surprised me. The flow was smooth and beautiful. I rediscovered my ability to writing.  Like the 'quantity group' in the story, I began writing more. And the more I wrote the more I loved the process. I felt my confidence coming back to me. I could see myself getting better at writing. 

Besides improving my writing, I revived my habit of daily journaling. I had made a mistake of confusing journaling with writing articles for my blog. Now I know that I should never put the burden of publishing on private journal writing. 

By the way, daily Journaling helps you organize your thoughts and give you clarity. It can help you in self-reflection, goal setting and driving personal development. It's said to relieve stress, boost memory and unleashes creativity. I am taking it more seriously than I ever did. 

Nothing beats the experience of writing physically in a notebook with a smooth fountain pen, but if you want to make it exciting and revealing, try writing on 750Words.com. It's an online platform to write privately, exactly the kind I explained. 

What's exciting is the way you are tempted to come back every day to write your 750 words because you are awarded points, and you will get beautiful stats that analyze the feelings, themes, and mindset of your words. You discover a lot about yourself more from your writing. The platform makes you a disciplined writer, you need to be on time, and your speed is tracked, even your distractions. You can write more than 750 words, which is approximately three pages. Your daily quota is only counted if you have crossed the 750 words mark. You cannot be lazy.

The site was created by Buster Benson and his wife Kellianne



Stats on 750Words

The mindset of your words

Feelings


In helping find my way back to writing I want to thank three people; Dr Adrian Chan for inspiring me to write daily journals, Nawang Phuntsho for introducing me to 750words.com, and Bjob Ganchu for taking me to Audibles where I listen to Atomic Habits. 

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