There are countless reasons people write. There are maybe even more reasons people don’t. Twitter is chock full of writers’ woes about the difficulty of writing when they want to, especially when they need to. I want to explore some of the reasons I haven’t written for...quite a while and how I’m going to start powering through.
Lack of urgency
I’m going to start with more positive reason I haven’t been writing, I no longer feel like I need to do it. I launched this site when I was starting my career and was trying to break into infosec. I was also transitioning out of graduate school and needed both a writing and research outlet. The blog was an excellent tool for that but, eventually, I got a job in infosec and I pretty fully transitioned out of the graduate school rhythms. That means there isn’t as much urgency to writing, I don’t feel an extrinsic motivation to write and publish. It’s nice to not have that pressure but it means not a lot of writing gets done.
Writing no longer feels like an outlet
I still love doing research and I miss it but it’s not as much of an instinctual urge as it was immediately after I left graduate school. The need for the creative outlet just isn’t there anymore. I do a lot of writing at work and I’m steeped in infosec topics like I wasn’t in the beginning. It often feels like an extension of work now, instead of a fulfilling exercise, to research and write about infosec at home. It’s a good thing that I have a fulfilling job but it means I don’t have the energy or inclination to write, even when I want to (or feel like I should).
Feeling like I’m “out of ideas”
Based on what I’ve seen and heard, this may be one of the most common reasons people don’t write (or submit conference talks) and, no matter how many times I have argued against it with friends and coworkers, it’s something with which I struggle. Probably a more accurate way to describe it is a lack of inspiration. There hasn’t been anything to quite get me over the hump of writing feeling like an extension of work.
How about some solutions?
The first step is to get a little more regimented. A major tip you hear from a lot of smart people is to set aside time specifically dedicated to whatever task you’ve been putting off. So I’m going to do that. Short and sweet.
On inspiration...I’m going to honestly just lower the bar a little. In graduate school, the wisdom is “a good dissertation is a done dissertation,” (there’s more to it but that’s the main point) and “you can’t edit air.” Get pen to paper, fingers on keys, and words to paper. More importantly. Press the dang publish button. I have three blog posts mostly written from over a year ago and even more that were partially written and never finished. So my main goal is to stop doing that. Writing is important to me and, while quality still matters, I spend enough time at work copy editing and trying to put out something flawless. This is going to be a creative outlet for me and it may be less than perfect, but it’ll be an outlet and not a holding area for unfinished ideas.
Designate specific time to write and get to publishing. That’s the plan. I also want to write more simply, be a little more reactionary and freeform, rather than writing mini research briefs. Keep the pressure down.
I don’t know if this will be helpful to anyone else, hopefully it is but, most importantly, it was helpful to me.