Infinite Ascent.

by CJ Quineson

motivated to write

questions to answer about writing

why am i not writing?

well, it’s not that i’m not writing; i’m writing right now. the question is: why am i not writing in general?

the one-line answer is: because i don’t want to write.

the question is, then:

why don’t i want to write?

maybe: i haven’t been writing, so the next thing i’m gonna release has to be great, right? but it’s not like i have an audience, especially since i’m starting over on a new blog. the only person expecting something from me is me.

maybe: i’ve been busy. i’m settling into a new apartment in new york. i’m starting a new job. i’m working on making gph happen. but for how long will i be “settling into new york”? how long will be “starting a new job”? it’s been two months! i am settled! and making gph happen, well, it’s not like that’s a full-time job, right?

maybe: the thought of writing itself scares me. there’s this pressure i’ve been feeling from not writing public long form. i feel like i’ve lost a part of my identity, like i’m not cj if i’m not posting existential screeds on the internet about my feelings. here i am, then, trying to scrape together some words for the sake of getting words up. trying to make myself feel better by writing.

maybe: i am treating the symptoms and not the causes. i’m back to the question of: why don’t i want to write?

maybe: the question i should be asking is:

why did i used to write?

“because i’d feel bad if i don’t write.” okay, sure, that’s an explanation. but there’s no way that’s the only reason, because that alone isn’t enough motivation. (i feel bad that i don’t exercise more often, but i don’t exercise more often.) even if it was, i’m not sure i’d want to write because i’d feel bad if i don’t write.

“because i had an audience that cared about my writing.” or: “because i was being paid for it.” then how does that explain why i wrote in ninth or tenth grade, when i was only writing for myself? you’ve gotta understand that i’ve been writing a several-hundred word post once or twice a week since i was sixteen. i’d go on hiatus every now and then, but it’s never been this long.

“because i used to be depressed.” or: “because i used to have a lot of emotional problems.” it’s true that a lot of my writing is about my depression. but it’s not like all of my writing is about being sad. in my last year as an mit admissions blogger, my i wasn’t as depressed as i was before.

“because things used to happen in my life.” consider that i’m out of college, and people like saying that life only gets worse after college. the best four years of your life, right? it’s harder to make friends after graduating, right? and yet, and yet and yet and yet, i hear the common alum refrains, like i have more free time working a full-time job and mit was the hardest thing i’ve ever done. but that only brings me to:

what could i be writing about?

i think blogging about blogging is the worst kind of blogging, for the same reason matthewmatosis criticzes meta content:

Here’s a dirty secret about creativity. Meta is easy. Meta might just be the easiest thing you can do. Actors spend their whole careers resisting the urge to look at the camera; going meta just means giving in to those natural temptations. Meta might seem clever, as deep as an endlessly recursive hole, but I think it’s more like an infinity mirror. Surprisingly easy to set up, and gives the illusion of depth by just reflecting back on itself. That perceived cleverness makes meta a highly-prized gimmick, which means if you want to minmax the effort-to-payoff ratio, there’s no better way than meta.

i look at my list of blog post ideas, and it taunts me. you could be reading a post about emotional intimacy, or discovering values, or what attending sparc was like. instead, i am doing “the easiest thing you can do”, writing about writing.

i should cut myself some slack. after all, i’m starting to write again after months of not writing in public. it’s fine to start with something easy, as long as i pick up speed and start writing more later, right?

as long as i start writing more later.

maybe i’ve gone past the “why am i not writing?” question. i’m writing now. maybe the real question is: can i keep this up?