Musings, in all sizes

Sometimes, all that matters is to hit that publish button. Do not worry about whether the subject makes sense. Or whether the way it is written does.

Whether there are too many adverbs. Or whether there is too little to say.

When words not published burden my mind, it is worthwhile to make way for them. To make them public. To not let them sit idle as a draft. I won't return to them anyway. After all, writer's block boldens itself in the drafts section.

So to unshackle my mind, I pick some draft and publish it in its form. What's the worse that can happen? It would just be another terrible post in the ocean of terrible posts on the internet.

The good? It would be one post that I publish on the internet. For at least myself to read.

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Am I writing enough? Am I writing too much? I cared a lot about these two questions in my early blogging days some 15 years ago. At that time, blog pundits filled the internet with suggestions on the posting schedule or the posts' length. With Twitter and Facebook dominating soon, all those suggestions became futile.

As online presence became a popularity contest, a burst of short meaningless quips became the norm.

Throw more at the wall, and something will stick.

I could never play the social media game. It needed the zeal to always stay connected. I instead felt burdened by the pressure of participating non-stop. No surprise, then, that I kept writing on my blog. A lot less frequently, but I did.

With Twitter and Facebook dropping in popularity, I expect blogging to attract a few new users as an outlet for their voice. And I also expect the pundits to pollute the internet again with their suggestions on the best ways to blog.

Let me spill the beans. There isn't one.

Write anything. Write anytime. Write anywhere.

Don't worry about followers. Don't worry about likes and reposts. There aren't any. Some see this as a limitation — I find it liberating.

I need not fight to make my words stand out because only I write on my blog. Everything I write is always visible.

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A day that dawned with many promises ended with a list of letdowns. I wasn't allowed to work on the tasks that I wanted to work on. Other's priorities polluting my calendar – the usual stuff.

To make matters worse, a few people carry an attitude which only mars the team's morale and, eventually, their productivity.

It is one thing to believe you are smart. It is another to assume the others are dumb. The former shows confidence, later callousness.

The only saving grace is that it's the start of the weekend.

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What do I call the entries that I write here? Notes? Posts? Thoughts? Or does that even matter? This is my blog, a space, as I noted earlier, for the “quick posts journaling whatever is at the top of my mind”.

I don't call them quick posts because they are less formal. Instead, they are less formal because I want them to be. Because I write them as short, quick posts. They need not be correct. They need not be corrected.

Manu wrote recently about how he dislikes editing old blog content.

[A] personal blog can and should be a representation of who you are at different points in time. We change, we grow and our thoughts and ideas grow and change with us. And it's important to have testament of that.

I, too, am firmly in Manu's camp. If I were to improve my old posts, I would never write anything new. The ideas are shitty, and the way I wrote them is shittier. Nevertheless, I still stand by all of those posts. Sure, I may not endorse any of those views today. But they are the views of my younger self.

The world around me has changed over the years. So has the world within me. It is only natural then that how I look at and understand the world has evolved too.

I recently observed my writing may have gained correctness at the cost of courage. Colin had an interesting thought responding to the post.

I'm not sure about it being a lack of courage, rather an increased reticence stemming from a low-level, underlying fear that now pervades the web.

Is it the fear of being wrong that has made me change what and how I write? Sure, that too. Whatever the reason, I am not the same self I was a few years ago. Why, then, should I ever correct what he thought and wrote? It helps neither the reader nor me.

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I couldn't write anything for the last couple of days. Or instead, I feel I haven't written anything for quite a while. But that's not the case. I have written a lot more than I did a few months back. Why do I feel then that I haven't been productive enough?

Is it because I have spent long hours at work and overworked myself empty? Is it because I have wasted a lot of time after work? Or is it both?

I don't feel good when I overwork — it leaves me with no energy to do anything else. It also leads to a need to unwind, forget all the routine stuff and spend time doing nothing meaningful. Watching YouTube. Scrolling through timelines. Sleeping long hours. Or catching up on shows that I wouldn't have watched otherwise.

After the hard, long work, don't I deserve a bit of relaxation? Sure. But at what cost?

I hate the process of getting back to a good routine. I need to work twice as hard on bringing things back to normal. Get the focus back on health – physical and mental. Walk. Exercise. Meditate. Read. Write. Listen to music. Sleep sane hours. Live with family. Live.

My life is balanced on four legs: family, work, hobbies, and health. I am stable if I give them equal attention. If any of these engage me more, my life wobbles for balance. I look for temporary support. Mindless fun lends me momentary respite. But before I know it, I am back to the struggle.

I know I must get my life settled onto the four legs again. Work at work hours. Spend time with family. Lend time to me, to my hobbies. Focus on health.

Do all of these. Just enough to feel in control but not so much to feel overwhelmed. The struggle begins today.

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Get to the point. I remember those words every time I write anything.

Another way to look at it is to focus on how I begin my posts. Matthew Dicks reminded me about the importance of this today.

Focus on the first thing you write, say, or sing. Spend time making the absolute best decision about those first few things you are going to express. Never forget their importance to everything that will come after.

I was (and still am) bad at this aspect for years. I circle what I want to say before I say what I want to say. Over years of writing, I got better at this. I come to the point quicker now.

I feel frustrated when I see some of the most personal stuff with an interesting premise get lost in need of setting context. Many writings need context setting. Research papers need context. Thesis. How-to Manuals. And on and on.

But a personal blog does not. Sure, some stories need a build-up; take the reader along the ride. But most don't.

On the other hand, does there even need for an “effective way” of writing anything personal? It's personal, after all. Individual. There's no correct way of doing it. It's a matter of style.

But what counts is not to lose the reader before I arrive at the point. So begin strong.

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I read a post today that I had written around 15 years ago. Reading my words from yesteryears, especially from my early days of blogging, reminds me every time how fearless I was in expressing what I had in mind. Not everything I wrote made sense. But it wasn't bogged down by a fear of correctness.

Correctness of idea. Of language. Of grammar. Of words.

Is my #writing susceptible to that fear now? I hope not because, to me, it needs to be free-flowing. Sure, I am more alert to the mistakes in my use of the language. Or of words. But that's bound to happen naturally over years of reading and writing.

This reminds me of a nice quote from an Indian actor I respect, Pankaj Tripathi. He was talking about how fame and money have changed the artist in him. An artist, he said, is much more courageous and adventurous when they are new and lack money. Their experience, popularity and earnings make them powerful but timid.

I believe the same applies to one's experience with writing words. What I gained in correctness, I likely lost in courage.

So, which version of the self do I enjoy reading more? I like to believe that my writing has improved over these years. I am no master, but I am not an amateur either. Even though I am not the same fearless blogger from the past, I don't mind this slightly mindful version of myself.

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One productivity hack I have read the most often is just to get started. Not to wait for inspiration or motivation. Not to procrastinate. Even with writing, or any art form, many often allude to the importance of blank canvas.

Stare at the page; one's mind will soon start filling it up with colours. Or words, in my case.

It has worked for me, too, for the last few weeks. The posts eventually happen when I make myself available in front of the laptop. With me travelling and visiting my cousins for the last few days, no surprise they didn't.

It was a welcome and much-needed break. I visited Mumbai, a place that I have a love-hate relationship with.

On the one hand, I love spending time with my cousins. The togetherness lends me a reset when I can forget all the stress and burdens of daily #life. Over the food we love and the memories that we chatter about. As time passes, the animated environment gives way to moments of real connection. As individuals find corners where they catch up on others' lives, I get surrounded by mumbles. But soon, as someone invariably gets hungry, everyone regroups, and the surroundings get filled with laughter again. This cycle continues throughout the day and late into the night.

Nothing's more comforting than spending time with people you bond with.

But then I hate Mumbai when I need to visit the city. It's too lively for my liking. Everyone's moving too fast. Every place is too crowded. No one has time to pause. And if I do, I face a lot of glares from the Mumbaikars. This includes my cousins too. Why the hell will you do that – stop?

Some cities want you to pause and absorb their essence. Mumbai is not that city. It wants, needs you to match up with its speed. I struggle to do that. And I struggled this time, too. I returned home exhausted, drenched with the pressure of meeting the city's high lifestyle standards.

As I lay tired in bed, there was a moment when I attempted to push myself to publish something. Anything. But I have already conceded that this place won't follow a schedule. This place isn't a journal that I need to update daily. This place isn't a newsletter that needs to stick to a schedule. This place is my blank canvas.

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I had heard a folktale as a child that I still love. The morale it narrates is loosely translated as “an entire tub full cannot retrieve what the drop took away”. But the real takeaway from the tale was to be wary of one's instinctive reactions.

The spontaneous reactions taken in anger are as instinctive as instinctive can get. In that sense, anger is destructive. Rebounding from the aftermath that an angry reaction leaves behind is no painless task. It doesn't matter how much one attempts to recover what was lost; the scarred mind cannot be easily healed.

Because anger scars both people, even the one who gets angry.

Hence I have moulded myself to not give in to the instinct when angry. I remind myself that my brain is muddled, and the best action I can take is to walk away and take a few deep breaths. It avoids ruining the remaining day for the other person and me.

Don't recover. Resist.

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Today got as frustrating as the working days can get, shaking my confidence in my capabilities to the core. As I signed off for the day, I was left numb.

I toiled hard, but the circumstances fought back stronger. Key people went on unplanned leave. Approvals got delayed. Core systems faced unplanned downtimes. Folks got under undue pressure, and they began rubbing it off others.

The last one on the list of unfortunate events above is the worse. I hate when people do that.

Work one gets assigned can be delegated. Shared. Pressure shouldn't be.

I am generally a lot more organized while handling my tasks with a clear goal for the day. But it gets frustrating when people pollute my day with their priorities. When they devalue my time because they can't value theirs.

What's even more frustrating is that in a corporate world, there's just no way out of this at times.

As the day progressed, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks left untouched, the tasks that I should have worked on instead. The third day running of missed daily goals and the list keeps piling up.

Fingers crossed, tomorrow dawns better. That I manage to put my head down and pull my messed-up productivity out of the rut.

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