I can’t think of many things more quixotic than starting a blog in 2018. At this point, in a world in which books about writing sometimes label Hemingway as overly verbose and social media platforms truncate even a few lines of text with a “read more” button, falling back on a medium known for long-form content that likely reached its peak about fifteen years ago probably isn’t exactly the best use of one’s time.
That said, writing is something I love to do, and yet I rarely do it. Even worse, I’ve given myself few reasons to write over the years, and I feel like my skills have diminished over time. When I do try writing, I find that nothing lives up to my standards, and I find it unthinkable that I could present my writing to the outside world.
It’s strange thinking about how difficult it is for me to present myself outwardly as a writer when my day job as a designer requires me to constantly present myself outwardly. Sure, I don’t find presenting myself as a designer very easy, but somehow, despite knowing I have more limited skill as a designer than as a writer, I still find presenting my design skills much easier. I think that this is largely because writing has been a part of my identity for decades while design is something that was accidentally thrust upon me after I realized that I needed to learn new skills to build a career for myself. I’m certainly no expert when it comes to design, but I can tell myself that I’ve only been learning for a short period of time and that I’ve come a long way without any formal training. My work will inevitably look a little raw, but it’s always getting better.
I lack the same excuses when it comes to writing. I excelled in writing in high school, and I took enough literature classes in college to meet the department’s graduation requirements twice over. However, in my career, it’s not often I find myself writing anything more difficult than a simple events newsletter, and, over the years, my writing skills have waned. When I’ve tried writing, I’ve been disappointed at my own decline, and I have difficulty finishing even a simple draft.
And when I do finish a draft? Usually it just sits there, for months, until finally I rediscover it, decide it can’t be improved, and discard it. Because I have high standards for my writing, I have difficulty showing drafts to others, which means I never end up properly revising it. Meanwhile, I have no issue presenting drafts of design work. I’ve included a draft of a brief photo essay below comprised of photos I’ve taken while on walks in my neighborhood over the past two months. From a quality perspective, the photos are nothing special, and they don’t yet add up to a complete narrative. However, I have no problem sharing them:
These photos aren’t outstanding, but sharing them is easy for me because they don’t have to be outstanding. There’s no pressure to present them as anything more than what they are: a group of casual snapshots that will eventually add up to a simple narrative on the relationship of my neighborhood to the natural world. Right now, that narrative isn’t complete, and I’ll certainly refine it before presenting it in a final form. However, I have no issues presenting this as a draft, largely because I’m not concerned about presenting it as any sort of masterpiece.
This blog, then, is a way for me to bring that same attitude to my writing. Paradoxically, I expect my writing to be superb when I haven’t put in any regular effort in years. That won’t change until I start writing regularly.
That’s where this blog comes in. The writing here certainly won’t be outstanding, and there will be times where I question the purpose of putting my thoughts out into the world entirely. But it is a way to get me writing consistently, and, hopefully, when it’s all said and done, it will help me become a better writer. I look forward to writing here as I work to finally produce something that does live up to my standards.