Saturday, April 21, 2012

Forcing Myself to Write: Pruning for Fruit?

I've noticed something odd about my handwriting practices. As mentioned a few posts ago, in my mental health improvement ventures I've begun again the practice of maintaining a handwritten journal, where I try to fill up at least a full page daily as early as possible in the day. The strange thing is that the practice seems to be becoming easier and easier to maintain, and what I have to say seems to be increasing.

At first it was very awkward. Doing so much typing had made my handwriting skills soften, so I wasn't that apt at writing things out and took quite a long time to fill up a page. Additionally, I never really felt like I had something significant to say or anything worth a full page. A few moments of thinking always led me to filling out that full page or more, but there was still that awkward hesitation. Now it's just beginning to feel more and more natural . . . nearly second nature. When I first started it felt like an unwelcome intrusion on my time; now it feels like an essential part of my day that takes up mere minutes.

I know that what's happening here is that I'm cultivating a skill successfully. By doing the handwriting over and over again I'm getting better and better at my penmanship, writing speed, my ability to convey myself in handwritten words, and my ability to convey myself on paper. The thing that strikes me as odd is how the amount of what I have to say seems to be increasing, not decreasing, as I write more and more. I would have thought that I would exhaust my stores and only need to wait for an event to happen for me to feel the need to write again, but everyday it feels like there's plenty enough to say.

I liken this to pruning a fruit tree to get the dead and unproductive matter out of the way to make room for new branches to bear more fruit. Cutting up the tree may, on surface, appear to be reducing its overall capacity to grow and produce, but the restoration process increases its ability to drop fruit, no? Writing might be doing the same to my mind: I prune my stores in the morning, live my life and have experiences to think about during the rest of the day, and find myself next morning with something new to talk about.

Perhaps this is the mode of thinking I should apply to blogging. I know I've been dismal in staying on a regular schedule for you, and maybe the lack of blogging itself is why there's such a lack of blogging. In other words, by abstaining from blogging I'm exacerbating the very problem.

I remember the old days, when it wasn't so hard to construct regular articles. The sole frustration was the meticulous editing standards I tried to uphold, which was the primary reason I felt so adverse to blogging: It took far longer to edit the pieces and was far more stressful than the initial writing of the pieces themselves, so I let go. Now I try not to be so paranoid . . . but it's a worry in the back of my mind still.

Another question I need to address is whether it's really important to maintain a running theme to this blog. As little as I write, I actually think of article topics all the time, but I get too afraid to actually write them because I believe altogether they might be too random to hold regular readers. But perhaps that's an overinflated worry too, since this is just a measly personal blog after all.

I've lost sight of why I write at all. Not only is it emotionally satisfying, it's also very good for the mind, for writing precisely trains the mind to think precisely, and nurtures the skill to be able to say what you want to say in the words you want to say them in and with the minimum amount used. Regardless of what topic I might be engaging in, that's always the purpose: To continue nurturing my ability with words, whether it be thinking precisely or expressing myself concisely.

I don't want to hold myself to any goal yet -- I know, I'm being flimsy and borderline flip-floppy -- but I'm thinking I should perhaps actually "force" myself to write a blog post per day, in order to cultivate my writing skills further beyond the limits of my introspection, in order to make it a more natural and desirable habit. People like Gus Van Horn can maintain very intellectually intimate blogs for years and years without faltering, all while balancing a busy career, a child, and marriage, so why can't I get myself together on my end? It might be a worthy goal.

Hmm. I'll think about it.

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