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Insert Thought Provoking Thought Here
photogeek
crschmidt
I don't really have anything thought provoking or meaningful to say anymore. I'm not sure why this is -- or perhaps I never did, and I've only now realized the extent to which that was true. I just read Jess's entry, and I realized how much I liked it... and I wanted to sit down and write something similar, but realized that I don't really have anything similar to write about.

I don't have the eloquence for prose: even my technical documentation is significantly lacking in prose. My life has so many interesting things, but when I sit down to write about them, I just block on them, and then I eventually give up and move on.

I try to solve some of these things with new tools: changing my setup for typing, or note taking, getting new toys and technologies in an attempt to diversify the places and times when I actually sit down and write things, but although they sometimes change the way I work for a short while, they don't work for very long. I expect it will continue to be that way, despite my best efforts to change: the problem isn't technology, it's with my head, and no technology can change that.

I do write emails well. I enjoy writing a long response to a post asking about core principles of software I've written, or explaining why something is the way it is as the result of technical limitations. (In recent memory, I remember writing something that felt prose-ish in response to a "How does OpenLayers work? I thought AJAX was limited by the same origin policy?" type question.) But they're always technical: when it comes to my personal life, I can't pull anything like that together.

Distraction is part of it. I'm easily distracted. I haven't been while writing this one, and I think it shows: Instead, I've just been sitting in the living room, looking out the bay window in our dining room.It seems that if II look at the computer while I type, I find out that there are so many other things I feel like I need to be doing that I can't get any further. Yesterday, I was trying to blog a meeting announcement for OpenLayers 2.6 release discussion, and in the process, I paused to write an Agenda, then paused to rearrange the tickets to match the agenda, then went and changed the topic on the IRC channel, and in the process answered some questions on the IRC channel that I hadn't seen yet... the list goes on. It's so easy to be distracted by the little things related to what I'm thinking about that I never get anywhere.

I wonder if I changed away from a tabbed browser, if it would change. I think for a little while, it changed to be in evilwm... I really could hide *everything* but what I was working on. The problem is that this, like all technological solutions, was really only temporary: the problem is that I *still* end up letting myself get distracted while working.

If I didn't have such terribly slow handwriting, paper journaling might do it. However, I find writing down anything with a pen and paper to be so tedious (and somewhat painful after any length of time) that I don't think that's a solution either.

I think what it comes down to is the fact that I'm not really a particularly eloquent writer. My writing is best when it's directed, and technical: fiction of any sort, or even creative writing which isn't fiction, just doesn't work well. I'm not sure what to do about that, but I do wish I could change it. There's so much in my life that I wish that I could record, not the lease because my memory is so terrible that I probably won't remember it in another six months. When I sit down to write, I just always feel like it's a chore; I feel 'stuck', like I have to fight my own brain to do it.

I tried writing short anecdotes -- these are no better, because they don't make me happy. I want to tell the real story. "Julie came home the other day and told me all about black holes" just doesn't cut it. I have to explain why the *way* in which she explained it was unusual: the way she brought black holes up without any prompting, the way that she came up, out of the blue, gave a two paragraph description about how many there are, and what they would do if you got near to them, and that was it. But it's not something I could write at the time, and now I've forgotten half of it.

It's just so frustrating to have these things disappear -- probably forever. The little things are what make us human, and I can't write them down, and I won't be able to remember them. And it makes me sad.

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Since I'm in a solutions mode:

1. Take 15 minutes every day, and write a private journal entry and use that 15 minutes only for that entry. It doesn't even matter if you end up typing "blah blah blah". It's getting in the habit of taking things from your head and putting them into English, which is a habit you're losing. That's why it's really hard for you right now. You're no longer fluent in English. I would also make it a point to make the entry about nothing technical. You can write technical English. You need to write non-technical narrative English again.

2. Try to take notes in legible handwriting. Any time that you hand write anything, write as beautifully and with as good shaping as you can. I'd go for larger better formed letters in general. Script should be so easy to write it doesn't stress your hand. Again, you're losing fluency, and while being able to type is important, so is being able to express yourself other ways. And I've told you dozens of times, no one traces over a typed I love you with a trembling finger.

3. Try doing some breathing exercises. I find that breathing in and out for a count of ten can really calm me and center me on what I'm supposed to be doing.

I think you need to be less accessible. So many people expect to find you at all hours of the day and night. Me included! You need to make some Chris-space to keep you from being distracted as you work. IRC is really crap at causing distraction. You should detach your screen session, possibly by force, for at least two hours of the day. You should also probably get an IM name that you're on as all the time and only give it to two or three people, and remain invisible. That way, if you must be found through electronic means, you can be (you don't keep your cell phone charged enough or check the messages enough because of the white noise from Twitter keeping you from ever checking your text messages), but you'll know it's actually important. If you do do this, I promise to do my best to keep it to simple informational things. "Should I count on you for dinner, or not?" "Alicia has a rash and fever, please come home so I can take her to the doctor." "My mother needs your shoe size and is nagging me for it right now."

I can't make you feel better about writing, but if you truly want to remember things, writing down something simple ("Julie came home the other day and told me all about black holes") will at the very least jog your memory in the future. It might not tell other people, but if you take the time to write that simple sentence down, you probably remembered again what happened when you wrote it, and you probably will again if you read it in a few months. It's better than nothing.

You know, you made this entire post about how you aren't very good at capturing what you want to, being busy, efficient, distractable, etc. But I think you did just fine. <3

Julie on blackholes reminds me of my little sister Dianna on nuclear weapons, at about the same age. She came in from playing at the neighbors and said to me (actually, she was six at the time) "I am concerned. I am concerned about nukes. Also, what are they."

You're a technical writer, rather than a creative one, and that's totally fine. Yeah, I understand the not wanting to loose out though.

BTW this:

"How does OpenLayers work? I thought AJAX was limited by the same origin policy?"

looks fascinating. . .

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