As I approach the ten year anniversary of writing for this blog, I ask myself why I continue to update it, even throughout all of the changes that have occurred in my life over the last decade. I started this blog when I was a university student (hence the name), graduated, lived and travelled abroad, moved home several times, went from trying to survive a soul-sucking career to running my own business, maintained and built new friendships, got engaged, all while trying to fit in running/reading/language learning and all the other things that I wanted to do.
Writing doesn’t come easy to me, even though I consume lots of it—I read at least 52 books a year, not including blogs, newsletters and magazines. All the while I can’t help but notice how others are able to express themselves so well, and so often, whereas for me every monthly post feels like climbing up a mountain. First I struggle to find the right words to say what I want to say and how to say it, then I struggle with editing and trying to ‘perfect’ each piece, only to read it again a few weeks later and realise I could have done it better.
So if writing feels like torture to me, why do I do it anyway? Precisely because it is hard. Because when I am done, I can be proud that I created something valuable to share with others. If it was easy there wouldn’t be a sense of accomplishment. If I didn’t have anything worthwhile to say, it wouldn’t make a difference to people. The best thing is receiving comments and emails from readers who tell me that a post I wrote has helped them in their minimalist journey, but these are only occasional. Most of the time I have to find the motivation within myself to keep going.
Writing itself is a skill, a craft, that one practices and improves over time. And the only way to do it is to write a lot. There are no shortcuts—one has to keep on writing, every day if possible. Even if 99% of the stuff is crap, a writer lives for the 1% worth keeping. Behind this post you are reading right now is a dashboard with hundreds of drafts that weren’t good enough to publish. Writing is a lesson in humility that I continue to embrace. Maybe one day I’ll improve enough to publish 2% of what I write.
The process of writing itself helps me gather and arrange my thoughts. Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m trying to say at first. I just have a vague idea in my head, and it’s only by slowly articulating it one sentence at a time that I can figure out how I really feel. The interesting thing is that I can look back on everything I’ve written and see if I’ve changed over time. If I still feel the same way about something, have I at least improved my craft enough so that I can say it a little better, or find another nuance I can explore?
The possibilities are endless and I know if I have the persistence, I can keep this blog going for another ten years at least. As I mentioned above, I try not to let the other things going on in my life stop me from writing. Writing has trained me to eliminate distractions, to close the other tabs of my browser, but also for a few hours close the ‘other tabs’ of my life—silence my phone and forget about everything else except for this one thing I’m doing right now. Writing gives me the chance to focus completely on making something that matters, and that is a wonderful gift.
Book I’m currently reading: Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
You can read my further thoughts ‘On Writing‘ via Minimalist Meditations.