Writing is Difficult

Fri May 08 2020

I haven’t yet published a blog post for 2020!

This is a bit of a surprise for me, as I remember thinking to myself that I would try to at least blog regularly. I have always had a soft spot for the language arts, notably in the form of prose. I’ve always found myself expressing myself best through the medium of language, as opposed to other mediums such as painting, sculpture, or digital art.

Since my last blog post, I have attempted - several times, really - to write a blog post about something, be it some event that affected me deeply or some observation I made recently that I felt was worth sharing with the wider internet.

But each time I would sit down and write, I would simply…struggle to find the words to express what I was thinking. Even now, as I’m composing this post together, I find it difficult to keep focus on the topic at hand and continue to express my ideas using words. To be quite honest, I’m even getting a bit nervous as well! I’m worried that whatever I finish writing will end up coming off as rambly or incoherent.

When I first started this blog, I must admit that I did not really have the most honest intentions - it was primarily meant to be marketing tool for recruiters to see that I was a well-rounded person outside of my primary software engineering skillset; that I had the ability to communicate in addition to having a track record of delivering software.

But in recent times, I find it difficult to communicate clearly through writing. The thoughts in my head seem to operating at 10x speed, and I’m able to perceive some sort of nebulous form or shape to my thoughts, yet I cannot quite pin them down using words. Sometimes, when I speak, I am able to clearly translate that form into actual words, but more often than not, I feel like I stumble over myself repeatedly trying to accurately say what I want to say.

So why am I writing at length about how hard it is to write?

I’ve a suspicion that writing code is beginning to rewire my brain for simple, logical phrases, instead of rich language that encapsulates the writer’s feelings. Before I starting studying programming in college, I would frequently spend my spare time writing short-form fiction; I found it very natural to weave together ideas and feelings together in the context of a short story or vignette. After studying programming, and working a software engineering job, I’ve since fallen out of this habit.

Most of the writing I do in my day job is essentially corporate communication, where clarity of intent is of the utmost importance. It wouldn’t do well for me for explain what I want if it could be perceived differently by the reader, as it happens often when reading fiction. Since I practice that style of writing so much, it seems natural to conclude that my style ends up reflecting what I practice most.

Another hypothesis I have is that my attention span is being brought down, little by little, as the years go by. Each year seems to find some new phenomenon to keep myself occupied, adding another Plate of Amusement to the several that I may be trying to keep spinning already. I’ve no doubt in my mind that the aggressive campaign for Internet companies to keep us glued to their content is one of the contributors to my shortening attention span - after all, there’s so much content to keep up with everyday, and I only have so much time in the day :)…

With those two factors combined, I find it hard to pick up fiction (or rather, non-corporate communication) writing again. It seems that the skill of imagining a scene and writing it out as I see it has deteriorated a surprising amount over the years.

It’s no surprise to me that writing, especially good writing, is difficult, but to come to terms with it is a bit sobering.