As part of his work on Frequency Central, my dad has been creating a video every week. Usually he picks a few modules that he wants to show off, and creates a patch that highlights some aspect of them.
Today he told me that he feels a sense of pressure whenever ‘video day’ rolls around. Whilst he tries to make an interesting video, some days he isn’t ‘feeling it’ and is tempted to just put anything together and release it. Whenever he is done recording the video for the day, he feels like a weight has been lifted from his shoulders.
I can identify with how he feels about that. To date, I have written 63 of these micro-blogs (including this one) across two and a half months-ish. Naturally, during the course of this experiment, there have been days when I didn’t feel like writing. Not too many at first, but recently, perhaps quite often. I usually try to publish something, even if I’m not ‘feeling it’. The only time that I don’t is when I have something more important and urgent to do.
I don’t have the same issue with other things like working out, running, or practising a language. I’m able to do those day in and day out. Perhaps there is a different between ‘creative’ tasks (like writing, or recording music) and more ‘self improvement’ tasks. (I personally find working out and running to be a form of release!)
Part of the issue for me is that because I’m doing something that someone else may eventually consume, I have a kind of obligation to be interesting, informative, clear, etc. I don’t feel comfortable releasing something that isn’t at least a little insightful (your milage may vary about the quality of my writing, obviously!). It becomes less like a hobby and a release, and more like work or a chore.
Don’t confuse this with ‘lacking ideas’. I have a list of 20 blog post titles that I’d like to write. When I look at that list, I don’t feel like I am ‘ready’ to write a lot of them. Perhaps I don’t feel experienced enough to write about a topic, or I know that I need to learn more about a subject to do it justice.
Maybe this links into the adage of “Don’t make your hobby your job”? Whilst trying to write every day isn’t my job, in a sense it has become like a job because it is a persistent, recurring obligation. A persistent, recurring obligation sounds a lot like a job to me.
As I write this (and indeed, whenever I “don’t feel like writing today”), it strikes me that there are two things to do about it.
The first choice would be to just quit and give up. Tell myself that writing isn’t for me, that the novelty had worn off, and that I should find something else to do with my time, and go back to writing less frequently. Who knows, maybe I can find something that I truly enjoy doing every day?
The second choice is to keep going even when I don’t enjoy it. There are days when I really do enjoy writing, so is it worth it to keep going to find those days? And how about the discipline of doing something daily; there’s probably something useful to be gained by practising that.
I’m not sure which of those ideals appeal to you. To me, the second one sounds like the choice that would be the most rewarding long term. Either way, I’m not sure that two and half months is long enough to decide.