Categories
Journal Thoughts Writing

Learning to write well

Since I started reading English language style guides few years ago, I became critical of the text I see everywhere. 

There’s heaps of imperfect writing everywhere; billboards, public toilets, public transport, and oh yeah, this blog. These are all great learning opportunities to practice the rules I read in the books. 

I’m in the airport shuttle bus now. Luckily the bus is full and I have no seat to sit. I’m standing few seats behind the driver. This notice caught my attention. 

I told myself that if I get a chance to rewrite this notice, I’d rephrase it like this:

For others comfort, please don’t smoke, eat, or drink in this bus. Thank you. 

Fewer and direct words. 

My writing is far from perfect. I write a lot of loose text. But I believe that if I never stop learning from these everyday opportunities, be open to feedback, and don’t become a snob, I can only get better eventually.

Categories
Habits Journal Thoughts Writing

Importance of journaling

Last ten days have been a bit gloomy for me.

I am slowly feeling better. What has helped me is putting my thoughts down in a 960-word essay on what is bothering me and how I intend to deal with it.

I wrote my post in the morning. Incidentally, Scott Berkun, one of the writers I admire, has tweeted this in the afternoon.

In my case, I do not want to forget anything but I just want to pen down my thoughts and clear my mind. I am so proud of what I wrote. So proud that I read it countless times since yesterday. Unfortunately, the post is too personal and is for my reference. So I published it privately. It will ever be read by only two people besides me. It has reminded me the importance of journaling and its benefits.

It is immensely satisfying, once in a while, to go back in time and read my past thoughts. I derive a great pleasure from it.

Here are the places I journal my life.

This blog – I write personal topics that I am comfortable sharing publicly. I try to avoid negative topics as much as possible.

Dayone app – Personal topics that I am not comfortable to share publicly. May contain some negative thoughts and concerns I have.

iPhone camera roll – My phone’s camera roll tells me the visual story of my life. I upload the photos regularly to three places: Flickr, Google Photos,  and OneDrive.

Twitter – My tweets are a way to capture my short-form thoughts. They are cheeky sometimes. Some of them sound preachy but I am really talking to myself, publicly.

Facebook – I share personal photos for myself and my extended family.

My Flickr feed – I mostly put the food photos on Flickr. While it may look like I am showing off the exciting dishes I am having, each photo reminds me of the people I shared the table with and the good and bad times we had.

Yahoo Mail Inbox – I have all the  text chats and text messages we exchanged during our courtship. Text chat has a special place in my life.

Categories
Essays Journal Writing

How much is too much

As a personal blogger mostly writing about myself, my biggest dilemma is to decide how much is too much. I often wonder if I am exposing myself too much on the internet. Until recently, I did not even dare to have my photo on this blog. I am certainly not ready to post my family’s photos here. I may, in the future, but for now, I play safe. And I don’t know what’s the harm with sharing personal photos on the blog. I still ponder.

On the other hand, I love writing. Writing well is important to me. I write a lot in my day job about software and technology. I believe no one can practice enough of any skill, let alone writing. So I use this blog to practice a different form of writing.  It is easy for me to write about myself. Which is what I do here.

I could write privately. But I enjoy reading personal blogs of normal people around the world sharing their day-to-day life. I find those personal blogs far more enjoyable to read compared to reading something like latest iPhone or movie reviews or even news. Personal blogs are enlightening and at times inspiring. This, combined with my reluctance to be a passive consumer, makes me blog about myself. Although, deep down I am afraid of making myself vulnerable to judgement.

Okay, Seth Godin is not your ordinary Joe but I found this inspiring quote from his 6000th blog post on his personal blog that he published today:

It doesn’t matter if anyone reads it, buys it, sponsors it or shares it. It matters that you show up.

Seth linked to another great post titled Shut Up, Sit Down, and Type which highlights something I deeply believe:

So whatever the voices or gremlins in our heads are saying, our response is the same: just show up every day and do the work.

And lastly, today’s installment on The Daily Post articulates what I love most about personal blogs:

I am drawn in by their passion, not by their perfection.

All this will get me going for the next 200 posts. 

Categories
Thoughts Writing

Where would you rather be?

Did you ever wish that you would rather be in a different place than you are right now? I did.

I think it is normal for all of us to think of some dreamland where everything is going to be exactly in the way we want. A place that is anywhere but where we are right now. And it is often correct.

If someone gives me the power to transport wherever I want, I know where I will go. It certainly won’t be into my past. Not because I hate my past but because my present has always been better than my past. On that account, I will choose to go into my future. I anyway live so much in the future that I often forget to live in the present. So if anyone offers me a ride in the time machine, why not go along?

I think living in the future is a good thing. When you are excited about future, you rank your future self higher than your current self. Isn’t this what self-discipline and delayed gratification is all about? If you are so obsessed with present and believe that now is what all you have, then how are you going to visualize your future and live in way that future self will thank you?

Getting excited about your future self will give you hope, which in turn will give you courage and strength to tread your present challenges. Because you then think that present challenges are temporary and they will eventually pass. They may not really pass but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you believe in taking action and action is the antidote of despair.

So don’t ever feel bad about wanting to be somewhere else. It is perfectly normal. Grass may not always be greener on the other side but it is surely greener in the future. But don’t hate you present though; appreciate it and keep working. You will eventually reach your ideal world.

Categories
Habits Learn Resolutions Writing

Habits and streaks

I clearly remember that July night in 2013. I discovered Medium and was on reading spree. Just like how I used to read any and every blog in 2006 when I discovered blogging.

That Medium post was titled Deliberate Practice, one of my favorite subjects. It mainly talked about two points which I can’t recall at the moment. I have this weird habit of exploring a bit more about the author if I liked any post. That post’s author is Tony Stubblebine, CEO of Coach.Me (then Lift.do). That’s how I discovered Lift. I somehow like the old name, Lift, although they renamed it to Coach.Me inline with their business model.

Lift is a habit building app. You pick up a habit you want to build, do that habit every day and open the app and check that habit. You build the  streak and you get better at habit. Eventually you just do the habit everyday without worrying about checking it in, unless you are keen on numbers. You also get props from strangers in the community. You can give props to other too.

Ever since I discovered Lift, I used it to track these habits: learn touch typing, learn planking, learn doing pushps on toes, getting rid of Facebook app on iPhone, meditate, exercise and a bunch of other habits. Besides getting obsessed with streaks, I also came across useful blogs like Zen Habits and interesting people like BJ Fogg and James Clear. These people and their blogs have been immensely helpful to me.

It is important to note that nobody becomes a super hero using apps. Nothing works until you do and you can work even without using technology. But I like using this app because it gives me a track of effort I spent. This helps me do the work on the days I feel like slacking. For e.g. By spending less than 2 minutes a day for the last 60 days, I am able to do 15 pushups on my toes in a row. Before that I could do absolutely zero. So I am more likely to continue the streak and in the process do more and more pushps. I can’t say how many. But I am certain that it will a few more than I was able to do last week.

So whatever habit you want to build, just do this. Download Coach.Me app. Search the habit and sign up to it. The app will tell you the bare minimum thing you have to do that day to earn your streak. Just do it. Check it in. Do it long enough, Boy! You built the habit you were wanting to build for so long. Then check the streaks and calendars, you will be surprised how little time it took and you wonder why did you wait so long. Good luck.

Categories
Learn WordPress Writing

Why blog?

I can’t recall when and how I came across this inspiring clip on blogging. But this is a great reminder to me to blog and write some damn thing here.

Categories
Writing

Sharing versus lurking

Are you actively sharing or passively lurking?

I encourage people to find themselves in the former group because sharing is a great thing. It doesn’t matter what you share as long as it is your authentic content. A blog, a tweet, a speech, or a photo. Anything that you created. It doesn’t have to be the coolest thing. It just has to be something that piqued your interest in whatever way. Something that is dear to your heart.

I value sharing because I appreciate the fact that someone tried to come up with something regardless of the fear of being judged. It takes lot of courage and thick skin to put oneself out there.

By standing up voluntarily, you are contributing something to this world. Most of your contributions, like mine, will in fact be trivial and might not matter much to others. But that is not the point. By opening up, you are showing the world how you think, how you do things and what matters the most to you. It might not be the world’s best way of doing things. It is still invaluable for fellow open minded people like me who are always willing to learn and find different (not necessarily better) ways to do things. And to people who understand different points of view, not just theirs.

So please stand up and share anything that you think is worthwhile. As Theodore Roosevelt said, be anyone but those timid and cold souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Categories
Writing

Practice, practice and more practice.

Writing is a skill. As with any skill, writing improves with practice. But practice is inconvenient and hence it is hard to persevere. Which is the reason why I keep putting off writing. But all the greatest and latest advice I get can be summed up to two words: Just write. Which is what I believe I am doing right now.

Sometimes I wonder what do I want from writing. What will happen as I write, improve and find my rhythm and voice on the page.

I am equally good at instantly identifying great writing and its feckless counterpart. I have a few role models who are both writers, normal people I interact on daily basis and online personalities I follow on various forums. I look everywhere for interesting instances of prose, like billboards, adverts, and basically anywhere and everywhere.

So it is my hope that with regular practice, I will be able to master the use of words to express myself succinctly, effectively, sans language errors  and take my writing skill to a level that is as close as possible to the best.

Categories
Writing

And so I write.

I love writing. It is creative to play with words. I don’t aspire to be a professional writer though.

I want to be articulate. I want to write with correct grammar, spelling and punctuation. I intend to master the principles of a great prose.

Why?

Because writing allows me to cement my thoughts in time. It tells me how I think and articulate. It lets me go back in time and ponder about my life. I can’t explain how much joy my past words give me whenever I read my archives. I don’t care if they are great or not. All that matters to me is, those are the words I wrote at certain point in my life. So they have a special meaning for me. I can read them for myself later. I can show them to my children once they are old enough to read.

I still hold dear the 333 blog posts I made in the internal blogging platform between the years 2006 and 2010 of my then employer. They are not amazing or out of the world. They are just plain and simple thoughts. But comments on my concluding post revealed that at least a handful of people will miss me and my blogs. That is amazing because writing helps connect people with each other.

And so I write.