Space and Simplicity
Here are a few quotes/links from Alan Jacobs and Austin Kleon, who are frequently in dialogue with one another, that have set the tone for my thoughts this week about a few things — namely blogging, information, and thinking.
re-setting my mental clock – Snakes and Ladders > Curiously, though in a way logically, my escape from Twitter’s endless cycles of intermittent reinforcement and its semi-regular tsunamis has made me significantly calmer about my own future as a writer, in large part because it has re-set my mental clock. I have always told myself that I have time to think about what, if anything, I want to write next, but I haven’t really believed it, and I think that’s been due to my immersion in the time-frame of Twitter and other social media. Now that I’ve climbed out of that medium, I can give not merely notional but real assent to the truth that I have time, plenty of time, to think through what I might want to say.
Ideas in cars, honking — Austin Kleon curates some thoughts on ideas and creativity from Dave Chappelle, Jerry Seinfeld, and Brian Eno
the blog garden – Snakes and Ladders — Alan Jacobs posits the blog as a place to engage in the work of mental “gardening”.
BONUS: Renovare podcast on simplicity with Jan Johnson — A discussion between Nathan Foster and Jan Johnson on a necessary but neglected (I speak for myself) spiritual discipline.
The past couple of weeks have been somewhat turbulent, hence the silence on here. Arguably, I’ve made this excuse before, but I’m coming around to the acceptability of it. For some time I’ve guilted myself for not writing/blogging/creating with any real discipline. Outside of my 9-5 as a software engineer, I’m pretty terrible at Getting Things Done. I don’t have a content calendar, and most times I make a writing-related todo it ends up getting forwarded to the following day.
I’ve tried to account for this frustration. I’d love to work on my idea for a fantasy novella with that brings together the tonal setting of dark ages Europe, the cosmology of H.P. Lovecraft, and the prose of Cormac McCarthy, just as much as it would bring me joy to regularly type out thinkpieces on spirituality and culture, all while working on programming side-projects for which I can write technical articles. Also, I really should be brushing up on my math skills if I’m ever gonna pursue that Master’s degree in CS.
Simply put, I’ve felt burned out yet have hardly accomplished anything in regards to the above. And I think I’m okay with that.
Jenoa pointed out that the only person putting pressure on me to do all of the things has been me. But that still doesn’t answer why I’ve imposed such demands on myself. I think, as Jacobs pointed out, that some of this stems from a need to reset my own mental clock — not necessarily from Twitter, but from the felt need to produce large volumes of quality creative work, especially work that’s germane to what everyone else seems to be talking about.
Which connects to that episode of the Renovare podcast. I’m finding that even good things, like podcasts (ironically), RSS feeds, and newsletters, can still clutter the mind and distort my temporal perception. Even my “simplification” away from social media still necessitates greater simplicity. This isn’t to say that I’ve completely tuned out from people whose thoughts interest me (they obviously act as a springboard for much of this blog), but I’ve been more willing to click “unsubscribe” if I’m not finding something enjoyable. I simply don’t have the cognitive bandwidth to read something just because it’s deemed “important”. My brain needs space to think and grow.
Which brings me back to Jacobs’s notion of the garden. If I’m ever going to produce ideas that are worthwhile and that I’m going to actually care about, I need to step away and let the elements do their work on the soil of my mind. I’m content to sit and watch them grow for a while.