The 100th post badge for AMOS

When AMOS hit the 100th post, I actually planned a “celebration” by writing one post a day for 100 days. A lofty goal, I know. But, still. Why not challenge myself? I’ve got nothing to lose, except time. If I manage, I’ll probably treat myself to a trip to cinema. If I fail, I’ll probably punish myself by doing another round of a post a day in 100 days. See, it’s a win-win situation for me.

However, considering that I need a deadline or depend on mood to finish anything, this challenge is in a danger to be dropped and forgotten before it is even started. I often get told off for thinking too much about something. Thinking too much could lead to assuming worst-case scenarios, and end in debilitating non-action. Just like how this post came about: a result of trying to foresee what could have happened if such-and-such happens or does not happen.

I need to make plan and strategy on how to succeed in the this challenge. One part of is identifying the factors that will obstruct or help. The other part is formulating the right strategy to achieve the goal.

Possible obstructions

Trying to come up with a list of possible obstructions turned out to be an interesting task. I had to look back at my own writing and blogging habit and evaluate myself. Self-evaluation more often brings discomfort as I face my own weaknesses. But I am beginning to think that challenging myself may be helpful in eliminating those bad habits and practices.

One of those obstructions is my undisciplined mind. In this, I include the excuses I’ve conjured to justify not writing: mood, waiting for inspiration, and the ‘I’m-so-busy-I’ve-got-no-time’ excuses. Most books on writing, at least in those that I hold in high regard, deem these excuses, or similar to these, infantile. The mind should be trained to treat reading and writing as a necessity, much like breathing or eating.

There is also the looming threat of my own power to self-sabotage. I tend to get caught up and engrossed in things I find interesting. When I like a song, for example, I’d play just that one song again and again, ad nausem or until another song catches my attention. I’d shut myself in my room for days just to complete a level in a game, even though I’d got classes to attend and exams to sit in. These behaviour usually would take up a lot of energy, physical and mental, and form addiction. So I have been struggling to find the balance, expose my self to these things in moderation.

An issue related to blogging, in particular, is the perceived limelight, that you think everyone is watching or reading your blog. Still, for someone who prefers being near the wall and observing, like me, the feeling can be thrilling, sometimes frightening, and, more often than I’d like, crippling. Even though the blog’s statistics states the opposite.

There is also the danger of getting distracted. This may result in going off topic, leaving the writing unfinished or getting lost in doing something else entirely. One particularly painful digression was when I tried to write “surviving another Sunday of the Sundays (a “theme” I make to push myself to write anything, at least once a week). I ended up going with a distinct look for the post that realising it took up entire day.

Getting distracted has also affected my reading habit as well. When I come across something and consult other sources (ie. the internet), it most likely leads me to something else entirely. So I spend times reading other unrelated articles. Bearing in mind the constant nagging in the back of my mind that reading to writing is like petrol to a car, unable to finish reading a book is, strangely, disheartening. And already, another voice chimes in, “but what if the car is electric?”.

Finally (there are more but I’d take the obviously devastating excuses), I fear losing steam, losing motivation the most. Once I have lost motivation, nothing is finished. I just walk away and most of the time, never return.

“When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.” Lao Tzu, Book Of The Way

The Strategy and Action Plan

At this point, I realise nothing works better than actually doing it. Write and write some more. But still, I shoud at least formulate a strategy and action plan one and the same. As the saying goes, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” Benjamin Franklin. Besides, thinking and writing about this is part of a process to achieve the goal: a post a day for 100 days.

I realise I need to tackle the “obstructions”. Or at least, when these obstructions strike I can recover quickly.

Addressing my state of mind has been an ongoing battle on keeping things in perspective and balance. Already, voices whispering that ‘I would fail’, ‘this is silly!’ come in droves, ready to disarm me. There is also a ‘technical consideration’ voice, disguising itself as being helpful, arrives at the doorstep: a post a day is too much, why not two posts a week?. I should stop them and tell myself to do it as planned: a post a day. I can even write about these voices.

Anxiety of producing low quality blog post is always present. With it, there is a pressure to “write longer post” limiting myself to do at least X words per post. I would think these are valid points. I keep blogging because I want to be free of the shackles of facebook, twitter, and the likes, which serve flashes and snippets of something, that have reduced my thinking process into bits and pieces as well. So let’s compromise: a 500 word post a day. Who knows, maybe I’ll change the rule and make up another along the way.

On the perceived limelight issue, the pressure of getting and growing “readership” seems to be in tension with the desire to “leave me alone”. The horror of being observed by unknown entities had been described in many horror movies. So I better not think about those who lurks behind my back. At the moment, rather than readership, what I really want to do is write something. Don’t assume anything and just look at those boring stats and nice numbers.

On the operational sphere, of actually making time to write, I pledge to spending mornings for reading and evenings for writing. I already write on a physical notes before going to bed, setting aside time to write the day’s challenge entry and plan a topic for tomorrow’s should not be hard.

I also have prepared a writing app both in laptop (Writer!) and tablet (jotterpad) to make drafting a post or developing it easier. I am not as mobile as I have been previously so the laptop would definitely play larger part in this challenge. Why I should install app and software when I could just open the blog and draft, you may ask. I learned over time that directly writing in the blog prompts me to constantly hit preview button to see how it looks. This proves tedious, time-consuming, and may lead me to focus on the look, messing with the wordpress theme further, instead of content.

One thing I realise from previous successes in breaking a bad habit, is the necessity of punishment if I misbehave. I am still thinking about this although ideas keep popping up: fines in the form of money; no culinary adventure for a month. I need to think some more, obviously.

All considered, I will go with this challenge, starting today, with this post as the first entry. This will be fun.

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” Lao Tzu