Published: Sunday January 11, 2015.

Hard things are hard

It’s Tuesday, January 6th as I write this.

The 4pm reminder I set to ask me if I’m going to write 500 words today (every day) appeared and I panicked a bit. I’ve had a heavy workload today, including client phone calls about ecommerce, laptop building, trying (and failing) to eradicate some of most finicky and persistent adware I’ve ever encountered, a 5-minute visit to fix a printer and TV, co-ordinating packages arriving, plus a bunch more stuff that I can’t recall.

500 words is hard today. I don’t count the sum total of emails, web searches and instructions I wrote down for an 89-year old client of mine. Perhaps I should. I don’t count the structural prep work for the appendix of my first book. Again, maybe I should. I deliberately don’t carry over 500 words from a few days ago when I wrote a multi-thousand word article. That’s cheating a bit.

The aim of this daily routine is to force a new habit. The 500 words is largely academic, though it does take sufficient time that I have to allow a block or two to get it done. It’s not flowing easily, and I am hopeful that there will come a point that it does. Blog posts like this are, rightly or wrongly, largely inconsequential and an exercise in brain training. There’s no big reveal in this post.

I don’t feel bad about non-RSS and non-Atom readers having hurdles to jump through to read all this. It’s a proving ground of sorts, I suppose. I used to be a prolific writer and blogger, maintaining a bunch of websites with pride. Now, not so much; build it up, tear it down. If I don’t respect or take pride in what I do, how can I expect others to do the same? That’s why I have my nag screen telling me that I’m 500 words in the hole for the day and I should really make time to get them down.

It doesn’t matter than I’ve done this or that thing that advances me as a person, the fact remains that if I want to get better at something I need to do more of it. Practice. Website design is another thing I’ve fallen out of favour with; not through any kind of dislike, but because other things became more important. I’m restarting that again, mostly as a vanity thing. I have the knowledge, and I have some basic design chops to make it happen, but it’s practice that’s going to make me more competent at it. All the technical toolkits, frameworks and building blocks aren’t worth a damn if I can’t use them due to a broken habit.

450 words. I’ve written and subsequently deleted this paragraph half a dozen times. This is the point that I must admit defeat. I did good things today. There’s no pride in what I did, but that’s likely due to the broken reward/feedback system in my head.

I did my best, and I got the job done. And that makes eight days in a row for my 500 words. Now, it’s time for sleep – and that means leaving my phone downstairs on the desk until morning.

Hard things are hard.