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Finding the time to write

About a week into this experiment, a friend said I don’t know how you’re finding the time to write. I don’t even have time to read what you’ve written. So, how do I find the time to write? And why do I find the time to write? Let me reflect.

I started the essay a day on a whim. I knew that I was writing a variety of things. I thought it was useful to put the things I wrote together on one place. But I also knew that I wouldn’t write them all at once. Many were also things that had been on my to write for some time. And so I decided to do an essay a day. (I think I explained this elsewhere, but it seemed worth restating.)

I think there’s benefit to making a commitment to yourself and following through on it. (I also know that I don’t follow through on every commitment; I am way to far behind on grading to believe that I can always succeed in doing everything I think I commit to.) As importantly, I think I gain something by writing every day. Certainly, I chose a positive topic for the past few essays I’ve written, and I think writing about positive things has helped me a bit as I’ve been feeling less than positive. And, as I expected, writing some things has shown a variety of other benefits, not least in that it’s a time to be alone with my thoughts, and to refine some of those thoughts.

Surprisingly, it’s actually not been that hard to find time to write. For better or for worse, my to do list is so long that I can’t hope to have everything on it done. And so, each night, about an hour before bedtime, I do a few more short things on that list, read through the list of possible essays, and then write about something.

I believe that there’s some evidence that once you’ve started to do something regularly, it’s easier to maintain that habit. There’s also a mental issue in keeping the streak going. (Michelle has a nice long streak of walking a certain amount each day; when she doesn’t make it, she finds the time to walk so that she doesn’t break the streak. Sixteen or so essays isn’t nearly as long, but I feel the same way about breaking my streak right now.)

It also helps that I have a variety of topics in the queue of things to write about. There have been nights when I’ve sat down to write one essay, found that I could not write anything coherent about that topic, and found another topic to write about. At least once, I’ve added a new essay topic upon finding that I wasn’t comfortable writing about one of the others. (Some of the deeper ones require that I’m a bit better rested and not obsessing about so many things.)

I probably benefit a bit from my education. I wrote enough in college and beyond that it doesn’t seem like a lot of work to sit down and write the 600 words or so that go into an essay like this.

Finally, think it helps that, in many cases, I’m just writing these as an exercise for myself. That means that the essays don’t always have to be perfect (or perhaps even coherent). I do go back and edit these essays a bit, but I don’t strive for absolute jewels of perfection. (I’m also a solid writer, not an exceptional one. I am not at the stage in which I expect jewels of perfection, or perhaps even perfect lumps of coal.) I know other people are reading them, but I think people have figured out by now that some of these essays, like my speech for Duke TIP are a bit more tightly written and edited, and some, like this one, are just a sequence of thoughts that are casually (but not causally) tied together.

So, how do I find the time to write? I just do. It’s easier than you might think, and it’s clearly worth it.

Now, as Michelle says, I should find the time to exercise each day.

Version 1.0 of 2016-05-05.