Watts (chipotle) wrote,

Finding obsessions

Find your obsession.
Every day, explain it to one person you respect.
Edit everything, skip shortcuts,
and try not to be a dick.
Get better.

— Merlin Mann

In context, this is a slide from a "how to blog" presentation, but it seems to me to have a lot of general applicability for writing. Being poetic and a little crude is, well, very Merlin.

Blogs (other than this journal) that I've tried have failed, I think, because I don't follow anything like this advice, other than the trying not to be a dick part. I've tried for subjects that I'm interested in, but not ones I'm sufficiently obsessed with to say anything very compelling on. I'm a political junkie but generally don't have sustained enthusiasm for writing about it; the same is by and large true for tech. The latter subject I write about here occasionally, of course, and I may yet work my nerve up on the former. But these aren't things I want to make myself known for.

But then, what do I want to be known for?

Storytelling? (You clearly need to write more for that.)

Publishing? (Not so much, probably.)

Community-building? (You've got notes up the wazoo, but no code yet.)

As I've written before—too often, I'm sure—this has been my midlife crisis year, right on schedule despite my "midlife" feeling perversely like, at 40, I've reached about the point I'd wanted to be at when I was 25. Over the last couple of weeks I've found myself taking a few more (expensive) steps in filling up the living room, for instance: still only a single couch to sit on, but there's a TV now and many things to feed into it; this puts me back at about where I was in 1997, living in Brandon, except that there's still a lot more work to do to actually making the living room feel like it's really moved into. Yes, even after being in the place for nearly a full year.

But moping about that ain't gonna get me anywhere, of course. I'm spending a lot of time being, and I need to get back to spending more time doing.

This year hasn't been bad for that; I've written two new stories, and oddly enough, both were written for con books and then sold later. In addition to that I've rewritten an older story ("Shattered Stone") and have started a pretty serious rewrite of A Gift of Fire, A Gift of Blood, even though I've let it stall in Chapter 2. I'm trying to shut down or back-burner other distractions. I may yet try again with the idea of just spending an hour or so every day, maybe in the morning (grr), writing or otherwise working on personal projects. There's still a lot more I'd like to do, but  I have to get serious about prioritizing. Again. (Another recurring theme.)

In the interim, I've worked Merlin's little free verse slide into my desktop background. I know, I know, it's kind of like hanging a "Successories" poster in your cubicle. But I need to focus on, well, focus. On doing. And I think I could do a lot worse than to focus on that advice every so often.

Tags: lifehacks, writing

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