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The Blogging Express—Next Stop: Procrastination Station

Getting to Grips With Writing Discipline

I often find myself weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of blogging.

On the one hand, writing on a regular basis and being able to provide examples of your work is important if you wish to pursue a job or career in which writing is a key element.

On the other, being unflinchingly candid about every detail of your life could do more harm than good.

It is a matter, then, of getting the right balance. Blogging has the potential to be personally fulfilling and professionally rewarding, but must be done with care.

For me, the advantage of having an online profile where I am in control of how I present my ideas outweighs the disadvantage of silence, though some of the comfort anonymity affords is lost.

Being able to share ideas online in a "community of the world" has been one of the all-time great technological developments. It is exciting to be able to take part. But there are no guarantees. After all, it is one thing to write. To be read is quite another…

Of course, no self-respecting web preacher's canon is complete without a post on the topic of productivity. You could even say that writing one is o-blog-atory (Terrible, this, wasting precious seconds on laugh-a-decade puns). No, you can't go a day on the 'net without being hit by an all-too-breezy guide to improving your efficiency.

Unfortunately, churning out such material often achieves little more than to add to the soup of online distractions eating up everyone's day. Indeed, remaining focused when at the computer is already a struggle; a challenge that will become ever greater as our ability to concentrate, both at our screens and in the offline world, continues to evolve in line with our interactions with the web. So, surely, as far as creative blogs are concerned, posting should be a matter of quality rather than quantity?

Whatever the truth, there is a lot of filler around. And yet, penning something fresh to counter the bland is rarely straightforward. I always know when it's time to write a post, as instead of getting on with the job in hand, I find myself thinking up stories for Procrastines, my favorite (invented) Greek philosopher who (I imagine) remarked, "There's no point coming up with any new aphorisms. Plato said everything worth saying," before heading for his afternoon nap.

So begins another dream of discipline in pill form…

One evening this week, I made the mistake of sitting down on my bed to research some material. It was a mundane, but inevitable error of judgement; one with "wake up two hours later" as the only possible outcome. And, sure enough, that's exactly what happened.

The main problem with dozing during this awkward point in the early evening is that it throws you so thoroughly off-kilter. On waking, your freshly reset brain is ready to do things that your body remains tired from, having already spent the day doing them. Walking around, for example. Or typing…

And so you wind up wasting time on YouTube – where else? – conscious yet unthinking, clicking through video after video.

Curiosity may grow where that strange euphoria which comes with tiredness persists. But all in all, it's much better to get a proper night's sleep at a proper time of night.

Another life lesson, then: once the sun goes down, sit at a table to read!

The writing process can be long and tough. Often, results don't come easy – if at all. But it's important to keep going, all the same. I see blogging as something to help keep ideas flowing and to keep my writing sharp. As with any skill, what is often described as talent is more often than not simply a great deal of effort and practice, practice, practice. So much effort and practice, in fact, that what is produced appears to have been done so effortlessly.

And it's important to practice in just such a way. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you and only you need see the first draft of anything you might happen to begin. This is particularly important when you are struggling to write in the first place. Blogging can help to ensure that ideas are at least leaving your brain and taking written form, if only as first drafts to be revised at a later time. But the simple act of making notes as and when interesting ideas spring up can be just as useful.

Sticking with it. Sticking with it. Sticking!

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