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I have no idea what I'm doing
I really don't...
18 February 2020 . 4min read

So here is the thing, you lovely readers probably think that I have some comprehensive topic list of what I am going to write about. That I have some schedule to which I write. That I am disciplined in my approach to writing. That I have some formal training in writing.

I do not; I have none of those.

Perhaps you can tell, but I've no special training in writing, and to be honest, I'm not very good at keeping to a schedule either. As for the topic list, well, let's just say that it's more of a random thought cloud than a list.

The only formal and structured thing I have is the tool that I use to write; Ulysses. I've written before about how I use this fantastic product.

The training part, or rather the lack of it, is worth chatting about for a moment. You see, I believe that we all have words in us. I mean, we all manage to talk and to engage in a conversation; some better than others. But we all have that basic skill. I see my kind of writing as just a small extension of me chatting. I'm chatting to this screen, rather than to a person. I think that matters, because a lot of people are afraid of writing because they think they need to have some special skill or training. Sure, there are some things that you need to learn and tune, but those skills are irrelevant if you don't have any words in the first place! Get some words down, and you can then muck around with structure, pace and possibly grammar.

Having a time that you write, just like having a time that you may exercise, or a time that you watch the telly-box, can be helpful. It can act as a nudge to get you going. I find the nudge is only necessary if I am doing something that I don't enjoy. The more I enjoy something, the less of a nudge I need to do it. That stands to reason, surely. But wait a moment, I have to publish something every single week; Tuesday at noon, in case you didn't spot that. How does that work? Surely you need a schedule to make that happen, I hear none of you saying.

I just need to make sure that I have something to publish. As mentioned previously, my capacity for writing is mixed. So I write when I am able. That might be at lunchtime on a Saturday, or it might be at 3am on a Wednesday. As long as something is written, then that is just fine and dandy. I have found that giving myself some flexibility in when I write, rather than sticking to a super-strict schedule, has removed some of the stress and pressure; which is a good thing for me. Interesting, at least for me, I have found that my writing has become more fluid and less formal in nature as a result; I like that.

Now, let's meander onto the topic of topics. This is a bit of a tricky one.

I once saw a YouTube video, from someone who I respect, talking about how you create an effective YouTube channel. One of the fantastic pieces of advice that she gave was that you should write down 100 ideas about what you are going to talk about before you start. The reasoning was that you need to (a). be sure that you want and need a channel, and (b) make sure that whilst you are starting it, you are not worried about running out of ideas. It's fantastic advice.

So, surely I should do the same when I am writing this regular thing? When I started this, back in December 2019, I had 3 pieces of work written. It certainly removed some of the stress and allowed me to workout the mechanics of doing this. Now, that is not the case.

Sure, if at 3am I come up with 2 pieces, then I will write them. That is not my normal approach. By removing the pressure & stress of having to write something, I just trust myself that I will think of something and then write it.

Trusting myself to come up with an idea has been a wonderful release. It also means that hopefully these pieces are more of the moment rather than heavily scripted and staged.

"Hang on, " I hear none of you saying, what about if you can't think of something? What do you do then?!

Oh, that's easy. When I can't think of something, then I just write about the fact that I can't think of something.

Most of the time, I have no idea what I am doing. Recently, I have concluded, I'm actually totally OK with that; It's quite empowering, and I would recommend that you give it a go ...

My name is Nigel Derbyshire, and I have no idea what I'm doing.

Just some land, and some sky. Taken at the lowest point in the United Kingdom. The Fens, 3m below sea-level.


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I'm a carbon-unit who writes; a Carbon Writer. Life & culture are my default topics, mixed with a little English wit & sarcasm. Full of mostly true stories, I occasionally remember to write them down. Found in a crowd, or contemplating in a corner. Habit of talking to anyone. Author.
- Nigel Derbyshire