On writing, even when you’re not sure what you’re doing
Why am I doing this anyhow? Below are a few thoughts on this less-than-pressing question.
Writing on a regular basis — even when you’re not entirely sure of the direction or purpose — is a huge aspect of being, well, a writer. One of the things I occasionally struggle with in my new career as a journalism professor is keeping that tool sharp. Without the constant deadline pressures of my old life, it is challenging to get myself to just write.
I have journaled for years, starting back in 1991 when a girl blew me off my sophomore year of high school. I have read many studies showing how writing each day improves focus, calms nerves and just generally makes life better. Though most are in digital form, the hundreds of thousands of works I’ve written in those places are akin to the old-style diaries one might find secured by a tiny lock. I’m not planning on sharing those in this space, or anywhere, really.
Farhad Manjoo in his excellent New York Times column on the subject makes a case for a personal digital diary, where one can feel free to express the inane, weird, dumb or painfully personal thoughts we all have without worrying about its effect on our personal brands, Instagram followers or employment. Given I have done something fairly similar for many years, I wholeheartedly agree.
But that’s not what this space is for.
I created and launched this website last month as a way of having all of my digital identities in one place. Over the years, I have created several websites, some dedicated to writing, some to journalism education, and some to my visual artwork. Though still a work in progress, I feel this site is fulfilling those needs pretty well. Or, at least, it is an excellent vessel for that purpose: I need to fill it with beautiful artwork and insightful writings. Hopefully.
To that end, I’m working on creating a routine for writing in this space, as well as a few guidelines for what I’d be writing about. First, I believe it is important to set a time certain for this type of work. The life of a college professor has some pitfalls, but many benefits, and one of these is a high level of freedom one has regarding his or her schedule. So, to that end, I’m going to work with the weekday timeframe I have essentially already set naturally.
- 7 am – Get up, make coffee
- 7:15 – 8 am – Read paper (yes, I read a physical paper) and do the crossword
- 8 – 9 am – Write and edit posting for website
I was tempted at this point to try and set my day beyond 9 am, but I know from experience that trying to do too much at once leads to the entire enterprise falling apart. So, for the moment, I’m going to leave it at this and report back on how it impacts the rest of my day.
As for the type of things I’m going to write about, I think I’m going to keep it fairly general, at least for now. I will be staying away from gossipy discussions of my workplace, truly personal thoughts or other things of that nature. I will be writing about life in South Florida, the state of the journalism business, my artistic projects and any announcements that seem relevant in that vein.
There is no way for readers to comment on any of these pieces, and I think I’ll probably keep it that way. As I get more revved up, I suspect I’ll be cross posting these musings via the usual social media channels, which can be picked apart in the usual manner there. So, there you go. A mini-manifesto. Well, it’s about 9 am, so time to sign off. See you all soon!