I’m trying to kick myself back into writing again, after a drought of not writing for a full year.
It’s not that I haven’t written anything whatsoever for a whole year, but just not exercising this type of longer form writing.
This poses an interesting question: where has all my writing gone for a whole year?
Well, 2022 was a pretty intellectually and educationally intense. So a lot of my writing went into notes, learning and teaching materials.
Last year in May, I signed up to co-teach alongside Mary Wharmby her Change Management Through Design course at CIID, which was a pretty heavy 3 weeks despite taking up only a few hours each day rather that 3 full-day weeks. A lot of writing went into the prep, emails, course materials and communicating with students.
Then in July, I signed up for Fritjof Capra’s Fall course on the “Systems View of Life”, a course on systems applied to all living things. This was intellectually and existentially challenging (the scope is humanity and our place and role in Gaian ecosystems). The course lasted 12 weeks, but I persisted even further through very rich and active study groups, and have extended my engagement with the course and fellow study group attendees for the Spring 2023 term. I took tons of notes from the course and study groups.
Then, that wasn’t enough because I discovered a free, also fairly intense (perhaps too academically intense), systems thinking MOOC course taught by ETH Zurich, I couldn’t help myself and my FOMO won over. Because the content was expiring, I spent hours trying to capture as much material as I could.
Then, in addition to that, I signed up for Joe MacLeod’s Endineering course early this year, on ways to understand and intentionally tackle the characteristically ignored aspect of consumer experiences at the end of product and service lifecycles. It felt like a natural yet practical extension of the Capra Course learnings (re: topics on sustainability and environments). Again, more capturing, more notes.
I think I’m ready to admit this is getting to be some kind of “learning” addiction.
But to the point of this post, I think this accounts for where a lot of my writing has gone to — taking copious notes and content from all these various courses. And to be fair – copy-pasting content from courses doesn’t count as writing.
Then, there’s work-related writing — Slack messages, powerpoint slides, Miro boards, Confluence pages, documents, emails. Writing that gives work substance, a voice and a presence, so colleagues can use it, engage with it and relate to it. There is a whole year’s worth of that.
Then there’s domestic life writing — e.g. Evernote or Notion pages for shopping comparisons, task management and productivity work, DIY and home improvement work, travel and holiday preparations, and hobby-related writing.
And the rest is social media, messages, personal emails… general communication.
At the end of the workday, I’m completely exhausted and all I feel like doing is stare at a wall. But I often have to go downstairs and cook dinner for the family.
There was one exception where, after a year since my last Medium post, I wrote a piece about Transitioning as a Principal Designer just before 2023 arrived, after Jason announced he was collecting contributions for his Designed Transitions publication. I still feel good about that.
So, why bother writing at all?
I have a heuristic that pops into my head quite often, that it’s a muscle and not a means. I use it because I actually really suck at the muscle thing. Things like exercising, going for a walk,… but also, writing longer form, reflective, content.
I need to give myself some more pragmatic, lower effort ways to build that muscle. I might try with weeknotes, and see where I go from there.