Writing Keeps Me Sharp

Posted on Oct 19, 2017 in Life, Nerdery | No Comments

286 days have passed between the last post I published and this one, which is quite a long while as far as I’m concerned. In reality, though, 3/4 of a year of dormancy probably isn’t that bad relative to the general entropy facing long-form blogs, though I don’t have the statics to prove it. Either way, I’d like to think that I’m back in action.

I have many reasons to resurrect this inert writing project: I truly enjoy writing. I’ve made fascinating connections through sharing my thoughts on the web. But the most important reason surprised me: I could feel the effects of not writing.

In 2016, I wrote a significant amount of copy at work, which, understandably, made writing on this blog a bit easier if for the simple benefit of practice. As our team grew and I focused more on managing well, mandatory writing projects waned. Looking back, it’s interesting to observe that as my overall quantity of writing decreased, posting consistently on this blog became more difficult as well. As I’ve reflected on that dymanic, I’ve realized that I fell victim to a myth that I’ve cautioned others agains before: if I only had more margin I’d do more of _____. I sub-consciously believed that keeping the blog up would be easier since I didn’t have to write as much at work, a perspective that doesn’t take into account the power of habits and muscle memory. I’ve written about this before1. Here’s a quote from that article:

It might seem counter-intuitive, but focusing on quantity over quality begets not only more work, but better quality.

Legitimate reasons for dormancy aside2, as I’ve worked on a few new writing projects, I feel like I’ve lost my edge. I can still produce good work, it just doesn’t come as easily or quickly as it used to when I was writing daily. The deceleration isn’t related to process or mandates—I can tell that pulling ideas together into cohesive prose is a mental muscle that has atrophied a bit at the expense of pursuing other types of mental workouts, both necessary and unnecessary.

Writing keeps me sharp because it forces me to expose my thought life coherently, which inevitably requires me to investigate and often change the way I think about things. Wrestling with ideas is hard, rewarding work and writing is one of the most direct ways to isolate the right internal muscle groups.

So, with that I tentatively declare my intention to work muscles that haven’t been flexed in almost 300 days.


1. You can read one of my previous articles about the relationship between quality and quantity, titled Productivity Requires Producing More than You Consume, here.2. The last 10 months have included learning to be a new parent, the closing of a business I helped to build, moving into a new house, international mountain bike races and having surgery (as a result of said bike races).

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