Against being a “blogger”

I. The problem

I want to write the kind of stuff that I like to read.

For instance, overarching theories are great – Kegan, The Gervais Principle, etc. I would also be happy to write about “things aren’t what you naively think they are!” – some of my favorite posts belong to that genre:

There are other preferences, too. I want to write “canonical” things, i.e. if somebody wants to learn why exactly X is wrong, my blog should be the place to start. Oh, and also entertaining and funny, somewhere between “laced with micro-humor” and “sarcastic drunken pirate” kind of funny.

So, what’s the problem with this? The problem is that I don’t care about anything. There is no goal. No benchmark. Nothing to optimize for. No “failure” or “success”.

I don’t have specific ideas that I want to convey to specific people. There are no lies that I am fighting against. No causes to promote, no changes to bring about. When I’m in the “gotta be cool” mode, I don’t have fun while writing, and I don’t learn anything.

Huh.

II. The solution?

When writing this post, I had a specific goal: I wanted to internalize the problem by writing about it. And so, writing this post turned out to be quite a bit less tedious. (Unfortunately, I didn’t have a specific audience in mind – and so, it was still kinda tedious.)

I guess caring about more things would help, as well as writing for specific audiences / people. Or, to generalize a bit: I should excise “I’m a blogger” from my identity, and treat writing as just another tool in the toolbox.

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Evan Johnson 2 mon

I’ve gone through a remarkably similar cycle--I like and respect all of the people who’ve helped me with these ideas, and some part of me must have internalized “well, then blogging must be a good thing to do, in order to be liked and respected!”. But that’s probably not why those people started! They just needed to get something out!

I haven’t started towards that direction myselfI’m still 80% lurkerbut when I do, I think it’ll be in an approach similar to what you’ve done here: Beginning by getting out the little, foundational, fits-on-an-index-card ideas. Like...you use Notion, so you’ve probably seen the #RoamCult discourse bobbing around. At least, I think it was Roam related? I can’t quite remember. Anyway, one person noted that they found it useful to keep pages to a single topic, with a declarative headline--something making an actual, testable claim which basically summarizes the contents.

This approach doesn’t quite mesh with the stream of consciousness that standard journaling provides, but the act of taking everything related to an idea and editing it down into a single, one-or-two-page sized place seems like a useful way to build up a library of increasingly complex mental modules; scaffolding toward a grand manifesto.

Artyom Kazak 2 mon

Blogging – yeah. Just a couple years ago, I had this turned up to 11 – “how can you be liked and respected if you don’t blog”. In fact, the concept of somebody existing and thinking and doing good work without being well-known in the “wider community” was actually scary.

Roam – building a library of concepts (with high-level concepts being supported by low-level concepts/evidence) always seemed appealing, but I’m wary of it because currently I’m limiting my own possibilities on purpose – “this is interesting but I’m not going to explore this direction” – and this would be hard/impossible to do with an infinite canvas. I’ll try it anyway if my Notion shenanigans start crumbling down, though.

Making an actual claim – hmmmm. Maybe! I will strike out “testable” though because a lot of claims I’m interested in look like “X and Y are related” or “X can be useful for Y”.

Evan Johnson 2 mon

Right! Like, I’ve scared myself off by thinking that it has to start out perfect, but, like, there’s a reason Scott cut his teeth on LiveJournal before moving to something more evergreen. Just think out loud!

One circle that I hang around is the Indie Hackers crowd, all about bootstrapping small businesses, not to make a billion dollars off venture capital exits but just to make enough semi-passive income to support a livestyle. And one of the big things I’ve absorbed is that Not Everything Has To Be A Monopoly. There are plenty of people just blogging along, doing good work quietly for years, and if they only have a dozen dedicated people paying attention, well, I’d take that over 10,000 people I can’t actually have a conversation with.

Re. roam/notion, I feel that; I love the idea of mindmaps but mine always get top heavy and end up collapsing under the difficulty of actually reviewing them later. I talk about Roam a lot but I’ve been doing something similar; putting off using it until I’m done with school, because it seems like the kind of thing I could get lost in right now.

Oh, I found the thing about titles I was referring to, though; I’d paraphrased it slightly wrong, and I prefer his explanation to mine:
“Prefer declarative and imperative note titles to sharpen claims”

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