Shit I Learned From Not Blogging

So I didn’t publish more than – what? – THREE blog posts in the second half of 2014. One of those was a guest post, so it doesn’t count. And another one was a podcast announcement, so it doesn’t really count, either. Which leaves me with a grand total of one (in numbers: 1) posts written and published in the second half of 2014.

Good that nobody’s paying me to write here.

Looking into the reasons for my silence, here’s some stuff I learnt.1

1. Talker’s Block, Revisited

Seth writes:

No one ever gets talker’s block. No one wakes up in the morning, discovers he has nothing to say and sits quietly, for days or weeks, until the muse hits, until the moment is right, until all the craziness in his life has died down.

Unfortunately, he’s right.

I have thought about this some more while not blogging.

I don’t know about you, but I actually do get talker’s block occasionally. Normally, I tend to be actively engaged in any discussion whatsoever. I chime in, I argue, I defend my point of view.

But when I don’t have a clue, I prefer to remain silent.

When I meet someone really wise, and she’s willing to talk, I’m a happy listener. And if I’m not, I’d better be.

Even when I’m just joking around with friends, there are times when I simply shut up and take a deep breath. To enjoy. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy being alive, and being in good company. Enjoy experiencing what’s around me.

Not a bad thing to do. Occasionally.

(See also: The right to remain silent)

2. Doing Stuff

This is directly related to number 1.

As mentioned in one of our podcasts last year, I had quite a nice time doing things in 2014. Instead of writing about them.

A few highlights:

  • I traveled to Lisbon, the Atacama desert, the Amazon, and through much of Colombia and Germany.
  • I helped a friend to open a kitesurfing and SUP school on the island.
  • In consequence, I learnt to stand-up-paddle. (Is that a word?)
  • I also like to lie to myself and make me believe I improved my ridiculously bad kite surfing skills. I still suck, to be sure. (It’s just too motorically challenging! But I won’t give up – yet…)
  • I worked more for money on the computer and for free elsewhere. I also earned more.
  • I created a tasty variant of the good old Cuba Libre. (I think I’ll call it Kruso Libre and I’ll definitely fix you one when you come to visit.)
  • I designed my first photo book (and got it printed).
  • I gutted a house, enjoying some of the most physically challenging work I ever did.
  • I spent a decent amount of time with friends and books and family. And taking walks. Long walks. Good things to do.

I know that quite a few bloggers use their blogs to hold themselves accountable when it comes to doing interesting things. Chris would call these things „quests“ and has created a bit of an outline of how to follow through. Which is a smart and fun thing to do.

But it’s not necessary.

We can simply do stuff, too. Without much planning. Without anybody knowing. Without a big picture. Without an official announcement. You lose some helpful public pressure on the way, sure. It’ll be a bit more chaotic.

But you save a whole lot of time to engage in interesting things. Or to sleep in. Whatever you prefer.

3. Planning <-> Experiencing <-> Reviewing <-> Reporting

And that leads me to my next lesson. Which shouldn’t be in this post because I’ve not yet reached a conclusion. Oh well.

I spent some time pondering the relationship between planning, experiencing, reviewing, and reporting: You think about stuff, you do it, you digest it, and then (maybe) you write about it.

In 2014 I wrote the least in… probably 15 years or so? I also took relatively few photos, at least in “daily life”. I didn’t follow any grand strategy, even though I played with the idea. And it turned out nicely, because – as I said above – I managed to do so many things. And to sleep in. Sweet!

But I also noticed how the year slipped a bit through my fingers. The digesting part – thinking and feeling – still happens, but it happens less than when I write about things. Same thing for planning. Which probably means getting back into writing mode, in one way or the other.

(See also: Focus, entertain, or both?)

4. Living Rooms

Blogs are living rooms.

A living room shouldn’t be owned by a government or corporation. It should look like you like it, even though others might despise your wallpaper. And while you may have an open-door policy, ultimately it’s for you to decide who gets to sit on your couch and who has to leave.

This also matters when we look at reporting. In my living room, I might enjoy to undertake profound philosophical discussions. Or I might laugh about a fart joke. It’s my personal decision, just as it is your personal decision whether you want to read it.

Which leads me to my next point:

5. A Personal Blog (To Rule Them All)

Personal blogs rule.

Not blogging did a lot of bad stuff to my writing.2 It also changed my reading behavior.

Full disclosure: I never read many „pro bloggers“. But by now, I’m almost exclusively reading personal (in the sense of: 1-person) blogs, and the larger part of those are published by folks who don’t earn a living with them. A few of them do, at least in part, but they do it in a low-profile, non-pushy, tasteful manner.

No sales pitches that make me want to grind my teeth out.

One thing I’m glad to miss out on. JOMO!

6. JOMO

JOMO was just named the word of the year, and this seems to be a perfect coincidence, considering my experiences with unblogging:

JOMO, n. The pleasure derived from no longer worrying about missing out on what other people are doing or saying.

It’s derived from the phrase „joy of missing out“. People tend to use it in the context of having a „social detox“, but I’d like to extend the usage to books, articles, and online chatter.

When I was still blogging regularly, my RSS reader was sacred. Spending hours to review the writings of my peers seemed of crucial importance. Productivity nerdism became another (related) timesuck.

These days, it’s different. While I still enjoy my online reading, I also enjoy missing out on the latest hypes, deals, trends and „limited time offers“ that became part of many mainstream blogs.

I also continue to be happy missing out on the latest fads in social networks. Still no Facebook for me, and still no Ello either. (Despite a much appreciated invite by Milo.)

The only allowed network is Twitter every now and then. And, of course, my email.3

Speaking of which…

7. The people behind blogs rule

This isn’t limited to the writers. It definitely extends to the readers. Even after I hadn’t written anything for months, I still got regular emails from new readers who had stumbled on The Friendly Anarchist while browsing the web, and enjoyed a post from the archives.

I also stayed in touch with a few fellow bloggers and long-time readers I really like. This has been delightful, to say the least.

Now to a couple of less delightful lessons.

8. Snowden

Ever since Edward ███████, I don’t feel free ███████ ██ ███ ██████ █████ and also in ████ ████. The ███ ██ ███-███████ ██, █████ ██ happily keep watching Netflix. For me, this █████ ████████ █████ ██ █ self-censorship that makes me want to ████. ██ ███ and █ really ████ ███████ in our █████, we should keep asking ourselves whether we really want to live under these conditions.

9. Muscle Memory

The writing muscle is indeed that, and it will degenerate.

It feels hard to get into writing again. It won’t get easier, but it will get better once I get started. Here’s to experiment as method, once more, because…

10. …I Like Blogging

Why deny it? I like blogging. I missed it. When it doesn’t feel like a chore, it’s marvelous.

Austin Kleon would say: Keep your day job. I’d say: Escape your day job. But I still agree that blogging, as a job, seems like a pretty meh choice by now.

I’d like to see blogging more as a work in progress once again. Long posts like this one can easily take 6-8 hours to write and edit. While I believe it is worth it, I also began to enjoy a more fluid and minimal writing style among many bloggers recently. Expect some more of that.

Which leads me to my last point:

11. Feck perfuctionism

And thank you for sticking around.

[¶]

People asked me to tell more about my post images. So here we go: The photo shows a dog contemplating the sunrise on an island in the Salar de Uyuni. He went up to the hill with us, seemingly not caring about the people, but about the moment. The zenest dog I’ve ever seen. And definitely one of the most impressive places on Earth I ever had the priviledge to visit.
  1. I wrote “shit” in the headline not to be more offensive, but because I’m a bad headline author. If you’re offended, I won’t take it personal. []
  2. We’ll look at that below. []
  3. No push notifications, thank you. []