It's all spinning wheels and self-doubt until the first pot of coffee.

Dork Funk

I've been feeling a strange tangle of writer's block and identity crisis lately, not to dramatize overmuch. I'm not really all that sure I'm a blogger anymore, if I ever was.

As I've written before, I slurp down a large amount of reading from sources various and sundry, but it seems like it's been a long time since last I felt like tapping out a few paragraphs and hitting the post button. Maybe this is blogger burnout, but I haven't been burning all that bright here for quite some time.

Pretty much all of the micro-blogging I might do--you know, your basic "Hey, check this out!"--has been channeled into del.icio.us and the link blog. So that leaves me trying to think of Grander Things about which to write. I feel like there're a lot of neat ideas floating around in my head, and I could probably be writing about them, but it often seems like someone somewhere else is writing so much more interestingly about things than I ever could.

Maybe this is a paralysis brought on by just plain reading too damn many feeds. I know the comparison is not quite apt, but I was reminded of Matt Webb's excellent "Extelligence": All my thoughts can pretty much already be found out there in the ether, so it feels like I'm already spread out in the web's distributed intelligence. Who needs me to rewrite it or rethink with this particular head?

And, you know, I occasionally feel the urge to toss in with some rant on politics (because you may have noticed my top link blog category) or the latest flamewar happening somewhere--but I've been restraining myself because, again, someone somewhere else has mostly written up opinions extremely close to my own and 'nuff said.

That, and I just don't get any jollies out of being a flame warrior. In a fight, I'd rather drown out the screaming with jokes and the mental equivalent of random balloon animals. In the end, if there's nothing really at stake other than a few microns of ego and a census of pinhead-dancing angels, I'd rather move along.

So then, what the hell's a blog for anyway, if not for ant trails and flamewars?

Well, I wrote about what I really want to do here. Mostly I think I'm just in a funk. I'm in a job with which I'm not entirely enthused or enamored--but hey it pays the bills pretty well and sticks neither cathode nor anode into my soul to power its potato-clock science projects. (Which can be fun, given the right potato clock.) Still, though, I've got this heavy urge to do things and make stuff, and I've intended to make this the place to channel these urges. Because, to the extent that I'm not learning new things and tinkering and building and being productive, I start feeling useless and unworthy.

Again, not trying to dramatize overmuch. I'm not quite sure why, but I've dropped into this vicious circle wherein I don't get much done and don't start much of anything--and so feel further incapable of doing or starting much in the future.

Yeah, it's a funk, I think. And the only reason I'm writing here at length about it is because I want to write something, even it it's only concerning about how I've not been writing about anything. I do this a lot in my moleskine, when I can't really think of anything grand about which to make a journal entry, but I feel like something might float up if I just keep myself writing in it on a regular basis. And usually, things do float up eventually.

Of course, the other thing is that I don't much intend to fill this space with the sort of inane personal material I used to write on my LiveJournal--but hell, I don't even write that stuff there anymore either. I guess what I need to do is just lay off myself: it's really not a condemnation of my worth as a dork that I don't churn out entries here and elsewhere at a high daily rate.

So anyway, I guess that's somewhat off my chest and about to be posted. Thanks to all 2.5 of my readers who waded through all this. :)

Archived Comments

  • 2.5 eh, must be double my readership, and I keep going... Seriously, I came across the "Info Freako, or who's already past arguing about syndication formats?" post again, and it made me think, because you came up with some great ideas (that I'd like to steal!) Creativity is like that, sometime it works, sometimes it just ain't there. Take a break, and when the inspiration hits, go with it. Or not, it's up to you. I just think you've fallen into the trap (again) of not living up to some sort of expectations with your writing...
  • I know this isn't exactly along the lines of what you're mired in, but I'm feeling the same way about the blogging tool that powers my site. I started working on it to a) teach myself new skills and b) allow me flexibility that other tools didn't offer (at the time). Now, as all the other tools are maturing, I'm caught up in a feature-race that I don't have time to win, and my interest has subsided. Personally, I'm just waiting for a flash of inspiration. They always come at the most unlikely time, just gotta be patient.
  • So, do I get a half or a whole all my own of that 2.5? I can understand what you're saying and you should do what feels right for you. But I've always appreciated your humor, and you're calm amidst the flames. However, if it isn't fun, don't do it. Or stop until it feels like fun again. Or invent a fourth syndication format -- that will get things lively....
  • Yeah, I can relate to that, not only regarding the job but also about not knowing what to write and whether it's worth all the trouble. I haven't been blogging for long, so my experience might not count for much, but what I do to keep my motivation high is write series of entries. That way, I have a main topic and I can write smaller entries more frequently. And since my job isn't that great either, I'm currently writing about how I would have done things better if I had had the chance (not to mention the foresight :-).
  • I know /exactly/ what you mean. I haven't posted anything in almost three weeks now, for various reasons. At first I felt bad about it, then I rationalized that nobody really wants to hear my angsty whinging, and eventually I just didn't have anything to say that would improve the silence. I find that I can't stay away, though. I've got at least two dozen thoughts, ideas, stories and neat discoveries that have been rattling around in my head with nowhere to go. Eventually I'll have to put them up just to exorcize them from my short-term memory. I'm looking forward to that time (which I anticipate will be pretty soon) in both your case and mine. Between now and then, though, don't worry about it. It don't mean a thing, after all, if it ain't got that swing. Wait until it comes naturally. (and I loved your Wishlist series of articles, in passing. They were terrific, easily fit for publication)
  • I think it's important to have a set of rules for what you're going to write about in a given forum. I also, personally, think it's equally important to think of it as "writing" rather than "blogging." I have a link on my site (look for "philosophy" in the sidebar) that lists my rules. The number one rule is "no blogging about blogging." (Obviously, I don't hold myself to that rule when commenting in someone else's weblog) meta-blogging, blogging about blogging, and link blogging all have one thing in common: they are all intensely boring activities that only the obsessive-compulsive could enjoy. I've seen you when you're writing something real. You're better than that. Write about real things. If you have nothing to say, then don't say anything for a while. It's not the end of the world if the site is quiet for a while.
  • A centi-pede walks with a hundred legs. A frog, who was a philosopher, saw the centipede; he looked at and watched him and became very troubled. It is so difficult to walk even with four legs, but this centipede was walking with one hundred legs - this is a miricle! How did the centipede decide which leg to move first, and then witch one next and tham which one after that? And one hundred legs! So the frog stopped the centipede and asked him a question: " I'm a philosopher am I am puzzled by you. A problem has arisen which I cannot solve. How do you walk? How do you manage it all? It seems impossible." The centipede said: " I have been walking all my life, but I have not thought about it. Now that you ask, I will think about it and than I will tell you." For the first time thought entered the centipede's consciousness. Really, the frog was right - which leg should be moved first? The centipede stood there for a few minutes, couldn't movewobbled, sand felt down. And he said to the frog: "Please don't ask another centipede this question I have been walking my whole life and it was never a problem, and now you have killed me completely! I cannot move. A hundred legs to move! How can I manage?" ;)
  • Yeah, I, too, wondered where Les got 2.5; he must have subtracted for kooks first. "I resemble that remark." "No I don't." "Yes, I do." "No, I don't." "..."
  • I've had some thoughts on this over the last year and a bit of blogging. Why Blog? http://www.ensight.org/archives/2004/04/25/why_blog_zat_is_ze_qwestion.html Blogging Plateaus: http://www.ensight.org/archives/2003/12/08/blogging_pressure.html Feel free to erase this comment, I couldn't quickly find your email to just email this to you.
  • Some time ago, your blog caught my attention -- one out of thousands -- and I added it to my rather large blogroll. My blogroll is one way I try to tap into the flow from that open ten inch informational water main we are supposed to take our sips from, these days. There was something different and significant in your choices of material and your presentation of technical ideas. Actually, I put your blog on my top level and looked forward to your new material. I admit to wondering what was up with you, because I have noticed the obvious dropoff in your posts. So, I do want to let you know that your contributions to the technical blogging aether have at least influenced one senior software architect. Blogging, to me, is an opportunity for which a great many people in the past would have given an arm or leg. To be able to self-publish? Not to have to wait in line only to be told that your thoughts are not "commercially acceptable at this time?" No incompetent editors or rejection slips? No censors? Hmmmmmm. What is that worth to an active, creative mind? As with any art, the deepest problems come in finding something of worth to say. Craft without content, technique without point, writing without meaning, playing sounds without feeling the music, blogging without inspiration -- these dull both the art and the creator. When you have nothing to say, don't blog. Write or read or think in private to explore the endless well of ideas that will teach you what you, uniquely, should -- and will want to -- communicate. If blogging is not an art that helps you achieve meaningful contact with other fellow humans, then I suggest finding another art that will. We humans have a great many arts from which to choose! Definitely, do not feel imposed upon to blog. This is one possible method to change input into output, adding the value of your mind, heart, and soul in the process. My final advice comes from Zen: "When hungry, eat; when blungry, blog!" PS Now that you have inspired me to think through this, I'm going to post my answer on my own blog (http://weblogs.asp.net/jtobler/archive/2004/08/14/214728.aspx). See? Uour blogging does affect someone. Thanks!
  • Thanks for the centipede story. I took it off your site and used it in an entry on moral philosophy I made this morning. http://www.livejournal.com/users/marnina/635.html