500 words

I used to have a habit of wrapping up my day by writing 500 words. As it happens with habits, I dropped that one and got a bunch of others in its place. Looking back, I feel the 500 words helped me to reflect on the matters of the day, or to conclude or continue some thoughts on the more long-running insights.

The fantastic thing about writing is that it can be a purely unidirectional process – from thought to words, and that’s pretty much it. There’s freedom in just writing, without applying too much polishing, massaging or tuning to the final result. It’s probably the same difference between authentic conversation, that is just happening in the moment, and a rehearsed speech or presentation. Both have their time and place.

One thing that “corporate” did to me is to make me careful – careful in how to phrase ideas, which words to use, which words to avoid and so on. That’s a good thing, being professional is not a bad thing, and neither are healthy filters. When it comes to my own writing, I found and find that limiting. But it’s super hard to shut down a routine and an inner janitor that is carefully checking every message during working hours just to have some more freedom when writing outside of those. Well, here I am trying, and probably oversharing a little in the process.

The best piece of advice I ever got in regards to writing was to just write. Not to do reviews in the process, not to do editing after every sentence. I’ll take it a little further, and I won’t fix anything but typos in this. Let’s see where it goes, let’s see where it takes me. Incidentally, it really is super comparable to being “in the zone” when writing code. Not every line of code in itself has to be art, what counts is that the final result does what it’s supposed to do.

For code, that’s probably something like solving a problem or implementing a function or whatever. For written things it’s the gist, the meaning, that has to be transported. And maybe it’s an overly pragmatic and limited viewpoint, but not every word matters in that regard – as long as the message makes it from a to b.

Writing starts to suck, at least my own, when my thoughts take a detour on the meta level. That is, when it’s no longer about the content or the message, but more about the style of writing or some other self-filtering that’s getting ready to self-apply. And while that can be useful, on a certain level, for the most part, it’s just very much limiting. So please excuse the occasional slip-up as I’m trying to work around my inner north-korean thought police.

If you’re wondering what I’ll be writing about – I do have the same question. I guess we’ll find out along the journey, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me (and you, whoever that is.)

But I can guarantee it’s gonna be around 500 words each time.