It’s come to my attention that I spend a more-than-ideal amount of time scrolling, and for lack of better description, consuming content, as opposed to turning mental gears “creating”.
But recently, I was inspired by people in my entourage to start writing again—namely, by my mentor at DarwinAI and more recently, a friend of a friend that I’ve gotten to know through League of Legends.
Hence, strong disclaimer about the upcoming unpolished writing, you have been forewarned. It’s a little flowery, cheesy and verbose by design, but hopefully it still eschews obfuscation and espouses elucidation.
There was a time when I used to write short stories, novels (albeit never complete) and poetry collections. From wholesome slice-of-life, to world-building war-plagued stories inspired from The Emerald Knights, to catty teenage romance plots; I wholeheartedly enjoyed being inspired by my own experiences and others’ writing to craft my own style and stories.
It’s comparable to a friend of mine whose passion for games lets his experiences inspire his next projects, and how even dreams could be extracted to game plots. I find it admirable that he’s always on the lookout for interesting game mechanics, concepts and general game UX—whether actively or subconsciously—and it’s reminded me of my own past enthusiasm for writing and visual arts.
Then, there came a time when I used to want to write short stories, novels and webtoons. But since writing was deemed time-consuming, I turned to videography, sporadic Google Doc drafts and short journaling in unfinished notebooks.
As additional responsibilities slowly overwhelmed me, I felt like I was falling behind in the rat race. The zeal for making things faded, and the remnant feelings of self-satisfaction from completing a creation became an indistinct memory.
I want to point the blame on growing older. I speak as a generalization: as our responsibilities increase, there’s more burden to provide for oneself. In comparison with financial stability, career achievements and life milestones, satisfying our spiritual fulfillment rests lower on our list of priorities.
It’s understandable that as more pressing needs call for our attention. a hobby that brings no immediate tangible benefits for its time consumption might become neglected.
But despite the build-up of responsibilities, I’m sure I underestimate how much free time I have. Certain activities have the tendency to expand and entirely fill out my down-time.
Then, I want to point the blame on this on society. More specifically, put the blame on the lack of structure in life that focuses on nurtures hobbies and interests similar to the mandatory diversity of learning from kindergarten and elementary school.
It then becomes up to us to refuel our interests. At the end of the day, an interest is still an interest, and shouldn’t feel daunting or a chore. Unlike in elementary school, I’m not being graded on my usage of colours, nor trying to bingo out a rubric.
When taking everything into consideration, if it’s something I really enjoy doing, it surprises me how many hours of the day suddenly free up.
I don’t want this to become yet another preachy post on how much time we actually have, nor do I want to ramble about how playing a game or watching a show is a low activation energy activity, versus how other meaningful fun such as learning a language or painting have higher barriers that keep us from getting started.
However, I unfortunately don’t have a better solution, other than the frequently parroted “just do it!” sayings that no one really takes to heart. But as we all know, pure willpower to “just do it” may come in bursts and work for shorter periods of time, but isn’t sustainable by itself.
Rather, similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, time needs to be spent on oneself first, so it’s understandable that old hobbies need to be put on hold as we tackle new responsibilities that come with growing up. This perhaps leads us to becoming more well-adjusted, maybe with more mental energy or ability to juggle what life throws at us and maturity in general. As an aside, “working on oneself” deserves its own post to be done justice.
The changes we experience are complex in nature, and though the river of time doesn’t await us, sometimes it bends coincidentally to allow us to catch a glimpse of where we were before, or where we’re headed, which leads me to now.
Now, I was recently reminded of who I used to be, and with things going south (or literally lack thereof) with my current work situation brought forth by immigration inaccessibilities with the pandemic, I figured that this might be as good of a time as any to rekindle any forgotten interests. It’s time to indulge in previously neglected hobbies, to give myself a sense of direction and structure amidst the uncertainty of current events.
In terms of writing, I’m apprehensive about going out of the frying pan and straight into the fire, and hence the purpose of this post is to ease myself into wordsmithing and becoming more fluent with picking out the “right” words to use. It’s not that I want to invent brand new unstringed sentences; rather, I simply want to use the most accurate words to bring nebulous ideas and thoughts to medium with better eloquence.
But overall, it’s made me realize that I have “too” many interests, which objectively isn’t a bad thing. However, this breadth leads me to be spread too thin—this is the reason that I don’t deem myself to be good at any of my hobbies, and hence I become more dismissive of them. But rather, it’s a lack of patience, given insufficient individual attention.
With meager focus, and abundant “to-do”s, nothing really gets done. Thus, the focus for the next while is to write—no qualifiers, just write.
But honestly, the motivation to write is a fickle one. The action-reward feedback loop is lengthy, with lots of in-between dissatisfaction in the quality or content, despite correct actions or hefty efforts.
However, apparently, there’s a “correct” methodology to approaching creative tasks such as writing:
- Insight: knowing what you need to do
- Motivation: having just enough “activation energy” to take the next step
- Skill: have the prerequisites to act on what you need to do
- Practice: environment and conditions to practice what you need to do
- Accountability: be held accountable with what you produce
On first glance, it seems as if there are more requirements to start doing, rather than fewer. But recognize that motivation is simply one of the cogs in the system. Motivation helps to enhance and meet the other four conditions. Conversely, in times when the motivation wheel is un-greased and has a harder time turning, the other four active aspects are what keep the system functional.
Hence, until my motivation ironically runs dry and I find something else to work on, this was some writing.
Thoughts and feedback welcome.
I personally feel that the headers detract from the overall flow of the writing, but I do admit that with the goldfish effect, media multitasking and the contention for attention, longer walls of text might be overwhelming.
As well, I’m on the fence as to whether fiction-like narration was the most suitable tone to adopt. Maybe this post would feel more authentic if I simply regurgitated my unedited thoughts. However, that would defeat the purpose of this post, which was elementally to practice creative writing.
But all in all, I don’t actually expect many eyes on this piece.