Sunday, March 10, 2019

I Feel Better about Myself When I Write

I've been working on re-establishing some of the good work procedures I had in place before we moved. It's surprising how many of them were made easier by the surroundings I had carefully set up in my home, which was also my office. I've set my laptop up in a smaller, less central place (as Stephen King mentions doing in On Writing) and made a variety of other adjustments to my space and schedule, and I've been getting into the book and making progress on it much more regularly than I was two weeks ago.

That feels better. I say kinder words to myself when I am writing, and say fewer unkind things. I feel in accordance with my work in the world, and feel like I am serving. I have a sense of accomplishment upon completing even a paragraph that outweighs the accomplishment of spending hours on more laborious actions like massive housecleaning or someone else's editing.

While he was writing Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (a work which has my highest recommendation), Eliezar Yudkowsky talked about how writing an immense fanfic might seem a quixotic use of his skills. Then he sent us to a comic of which the punchline was, "I tried not doing it, and that didn't work." There we go. I've tried not writing. It doesn't work.

Whether that's because writing itself is the necessary action or because my current writing project is on the critical path to the difference I want to make in the world remains to be seen.

Marcus Buckingham gives a revisionist definition of strengths and weaknesses. He says that a strength is what strengthens you and a weakness is what weakens you. This is an interesting change of perspective on the more usual understanding that a strength is what you are good at and a weakness is what you find difficult. His definition is completely uncorrelated, at least to start, with the standard definition. Over time, it seems likely that practicing what strengthens you will also give you skill in it.

In either definition, writing is one of my strengths.