Monday, May 11, 2015

Hard Lessons

Now and then, it is difficult not to become so immersed in one's own life that everyone else and everything else seems to matter.  It is at this point that we decline invitations, we grow a bit obsessive with our hobbies, we shut out the world . . . and we stop writing blog posts.

Here's where I've been throughout May - writing about film and not D&D.  Dropping, already, the recent attempt to write about food (I'm really just reconsidering my voice).  Crunching figures rather than contributing to the necessary rule lists I've planned.  Shying away.  Going to ground.  Concentrating on the daily process of spending my life profitably.

However, I can't get away from seeing my blog as a responsibility - a commitment that I've taken up and that deserves respect and the application of my time.  This puts me in a difficult position, the same that every blog writer faces repeatedly, without let up.

What do I write about?

Some things I can think fall under the category, "That will take more energy than I have."  Others are in the category, "Stop writing that shit, it is tiresome."  Still others in the group, "Oh god no."

At the end, all that's left is to write about writing . . . which is equivalent to turning in a tampon-in-a-teacup as our monthly art project after weeks of procrastination, inactivity and one badly timed drunken night when it was our last chance to work on our art project.  It is trusting that we can talk our way out when we haven't actually chosen to work our way out.

As such, I know what I'm doing here.  I'm boring both of us.

In the last two or three years, I have been learning a hard lesson, one that has been challenging a bad habit I've had all my life.  It is the "I'm going to do this" habit.  The habit of telling people what plans we have for the future, usually because we're too excited about the project to keep quiet.  It is a bad habit for a number of reasons.

First, obviously, we tend not to follow through.  There's something about the project that loses our interest, it turns out to be bigger than expected, it develops an unforeseen problem that makes it impossible to complete . . . and after any of those, we're stuck having to explain why we didn't do that thing that we meant to do, even though we were formerly excited.

I used to justify the habit by arguing that commitment would impress in my mind the importance of following through and finishing the thing . . . embracing guilt, as it were, as a means of forcing completion.  It sounds good on the surface but it's a load of bullocks.  Guilt isn't strong enough . . . and what's left is having to admit to more people than ourselves that we've let them down.

The solution - the difficult solution - is to work in obscurity.  Have a new project?  Shut up.  Something we're getting ready for launch?  Shut up.  Got plans to build a system that is going to be amazing?   Shut up.  Just shut up about it.  Build the project, get it ready for launch, fix the system and then talk about it, after it is finished.  There will be plenty of time for others to get excited about it then . . . when it is done, when it has a chance of living up to expectations.

Until then, it is just air.

Been hard learning this lesson.  Sure gives me less to talk about in a blog post.  In the long run, however, discipline is more important than public relations.  Less sexy.  More important.


Oddbit said...

My "blog" is a big spew of all this. Excitement and no execution.

I think 2 or 3 projects of the 6 ever came to execution. And more-so the complaints of regular gaming issues seems better executed than anything.

Ray Doraisamy said...

There's a few (less than a handful, and the sample size is relatively small) studies that suggest revealing goals lowers the chances of achieving them because talking about it may trick your subconscious into thinking that you've accomplished something. Peter Gollwitzer is the latest to publish something on it, I think.

That said, would you ever consider doing a Q&A whenever you feel like writing something on the subject but don't have a topic?

Alexis Smolensk said...

I answer virtually any question that I'm asked on this blog . . . so long as I'm able. About 10% of my blog posts result due to really good questions that I'm asked.

I've tried to encourage questions with the sort of post you suggest, Ray - but they always hit the floor with a thud.