Writing is hard.
This is something that I was aware of before beginning this newsletter practice, but I’m finding that things aren’t exactly going as I had envisioned. One of the main reasons I started writing a newsletter was so that I could have a medium of expression that was more loose and less polished than how I normally operate. I initially wrote that “there’s a time and a place for spending more time on ideas, which I hope to do in vlog format in the near future. The email newsletter can be its own more casual medium that can also serve as a testing ground of sorts to get my feet wet and gauge which ideas I do want to flesh out more fully.” This medium was supposed to be quicker and easier but despite not aiming for perfection, I still find myself spending more time than I’d like to in fleshing things out.
I’ve always enjoyed expressing myself in ways that aren’t verbal (it’s not exactly my strong suit). I’ve always liked how much more calculated writing is than speaking. I can take the time to ponder and contemplate, and ideally find the perfect word or means of expression. But forcing myself to write consistently and with time constraints feels like it starts to push the medium back towards verbal communication. My issue with expressing myself verbally is that I don’t always know what I think right away, and if I don’t know what I think right away, then I don’t know what to say right away and awkwardness and silence ensue.
Writing is hard for the exact same reason. I don’t know what I think right away. I have hundreds of ideas and topics that I want to cover, so many things that excite and interest me, but that doesn’t automatically translate into a written piece. I have a good, general sense of how I feel about a topic, but trying to properly articulate it all means getting to the heart of the matter and figuring out what I actually have to say, or if I have anything to say. Before I sit down to write, I don’t know what the heart of the matter is because I haven’t fully thought it through yet. Writing is hard because it forces me to clarify my thinking, to evaluate what I believe and what I have learned, and to think things through completely, or at least the best I can in a short amount of time. It’s difficult to come to a conclusion and whittle things down into a concise representation of what I want to say, especially if it’s a topic that can’t be thought through very quickly.
As someone who likes to take my time with things, this is why my idea of a loose, less polished medium isn’t lining up with my process. I thought these writing sessions would mostly be presenting things that interest me, but it’s actually working through the process of discovering what I truly think, which is a very hard thing to do.
In the words of Mortimer J. Adler, “the person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks.”
Writing is hard if you don’t know what you think.