0667 – revisit, review and re-reference your work [Final Third!]

I have been hesitant to begin on the final third of my word vomit project. There’s a simple reason for this – I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. I could just keep rambling indefinitely until the end of the project, but somehow that seems suboptimal. I don’t want to finish the project and then have to start work on making sense of the project. That would be exhausting. No. I want to finish the project when I finish the project. [1]

So then I have to ask myself – what does ‘making sense of the project’ look like? Well, it means I’ll have to read the entirety of my vomits to process it for meaning. Probably several times. [2] I’ll need to look for signals amidst the noise, and then tidy those up.

Well, why not do that within the context of the project itself? The main argument against it, in my subconscious, is “well… I’ll be quoting myself, and repeated words shouldn’t exactly count towards total word count.” I think a part of that is true. But a part of it is also untrue, when I go back to the original intent of the project. The project was intended to help me develop and grow as a writer. It’s dawning on me that it’s better to reuse previous sets of words in service of better comms, than to invent new sets of words that don’t add any clarity.

Maybe I’ll have to say “I wrote a million words” with a caveat, saying some of those words were repeated in quotes. Or I can say that I worked on a million words. Does it really matter to me? A little bit… but I’ll be fair to myself.

Anyway, so here’s what lies ahead.

  1. Reading. I’ve been spending some time going through my existing vomits already. There’s a list of all published word vomits over at /1000/sitemap.
  2. Editing titles. I’ve been editing and updating titles of these word vomits so that they’re a little more tidy and consistent. This isn’t just to make it look better. This is to make it easier for me to parse them. For example, I’m retitling “a new day + story of the bum” to “break up with the saboteur-bum in your head”. This makes it easier for me to be clear what the vomit is about.
  3. Pattern recognition and tagging. Once I’ve started editing blogposts, I begin to notice certain patterns.
    1. With a lot of my “reflection” type blogposts, there’s often some sort of direction, action or next step.  I find that when I make the title a ‘directive’ – something to do, it somehow becomes much easier to remember what the post is about, what my train of thought is.
    2. There are other “types” of blogposts, which are becoming clearer as I improve the titles. I have a class of blogposts tagged “bugs”, which describe ways in which I systematically get in my own way. These are things that I need to develop an intimate understand of, and have methods to fight against. I don’t have an immediate directive for these, since the wrong directive might even do me harm. But I want to have all of these in a tidy little list so that I can revisit them.
    3. Other tags include…
      1. ‘truths’ – these are vomits that attempt to capture something about reality that I think I need to remember or understand
      2. status update – these are vomits where I take stock of how I’m doing at a given point in time. Each is a snapshot of my life; in aggregate they should reveal some interesting constants and changes
    4. As I write these, it becomes clear to me that my current set of tags is still suboptimal. I need to keep editing and tagging my posts. I don’t yet know what the optimal set of tags will be, but I trust that as I keep editing them, and keep identifying patterns, I will find superior ways of tagging things.
  4. Consolidation. This is the important next bit that I haven’t gotten to yet. Once I start seeing patterns in my tags, I’m going to “merge” or “chain” my older posts in new ones. I have repeated myself about dozens of things. I want those sets of posts to be allowed to merge and coalesce naturally, so that they’re all connected. Right now, I have 666 dots in a big pile on the floor. I’m trying to look for connections. I believe that the final result will be a rather pretty network of links. There will be some central nodes within the 1000 word vomit project that subesquently “fan out” and link to all the other posts. Some posts will render entire sets of previous posts ‘obsolete’ – which is a good thing. Those posts will be ‘relegated’ to ‘sources’. I estimate that I really only have about 20-30 things to say, and maybe even those could be compressed further.

So. My next step for this project isn’t to write the next vomit yet, not quite (though I do think I have a couple of vomits on my mind). The next thing I need to do is to edit all the remaining titles I have. I’ve added these next steps to my todo list. I will get to them. And I will crush them. I anticipate that I will have a consolidated “review your stuff” post. As well as at least one for each of the tags. Procrastination, writing. I have been hesitating to make progress on those because they might be more links that writing, but that’s a silly way of thinking about it. I just need to get them off the ground. And I can publish them here in parts, before further consolidating them in the future if I need to.

Anyway, this vomit is just about done. It’s 1:06AM, time for bed. Goodnight, Visa. We’re going to do great things together.


[1] Realistically I know this won’t exactly happen, but I want to state it as a goal so that I get as close to it as possible.

[2] I now have tremendous respect for any author of any extended series. They must surely do it in a piecemeal sort of way. Or otherwise go through absolute hell in editing.


0666 – consider the economics of pricelessness pt 1

I want to spend a vomit thinking about the economics of pricelessness.

Why am I thinking about this?

I think it’s because – I feel strained in my life. I feel like I’m being pulled in multiple directions, and that I need to find some sort of solution to this because it’s not sustainable.

There are a few possible solutions, or partial solutions, to mitigate this frustration.

  1. Identify and eliminate ‘pulls’ that are not actually ‘real’. That is, if I have some imaginary fears or expectations or wants that can be removed, I should remove them. If I haven’t already done this, it’s because I haven’t needed to. I’ve been clinging on to illusions and fantasies and whatnot.
  2. Identify and establish a more coherent narrative for myself to fit everything into.
  3. Prioritize and put together some sort of timeline/roadmap. A personal roadmap. The plan will never be able to work perfectly, but planning reveals all sorts of useful insights, so it’s worth doing.

I just thought of a simpler way of thinking about this. There must exist some truths about the environment that I’m operating in. Currently, my understanding of these truths is vague and imprecise. And so I am operating in clunky and inefficient ways. I’m not getting very much “done”. This was somewhat acceptable for some period of time, but it is starting to feel unacceptable to me now.

A part of me feels an impulse to “just quit my job and become a writer”. The precise manifestation of this impulse is interesting to me. Will such a leap work? Statistically, this is known to be a bad idea.

On meaning

You never actually ‘achieve meaning’, you just feel like you’re about to. Like you’re always on the cusp of something. This is something I have to factor into my decision-making.

Consider transactions

I tweeted about a couple of related things earlier – first, that it’s a slightly uncomfortable but probably true fact that it’s possible to buy goodwill if you’re smart about it.

Then – do you think of the human game as transactional or priceless? I’d like to believe that it’s priceless, or live in a context where it’s priceless, but reality doesn’t give a shit about what I think.

We live in a world where lots of privileged people would prefer to not have to think about things like “how much is a human life worth in dollar terms” if they can. This is a privilege of living in sheltered, middle-class type existence. The very rich and the very poor are both relatively used to making these sort of decisions all the time, I believe, but we don’t hear very much from either group.

A poor person might have to choose between paying for an expensive medical treatment or putting food on the table. This isn’t an academic exercise in a philosophy class, this is a real decision people have to make every day.

Child labor is something that’s happened around the world and continues to happen today. It was common during the British Industrial Revolution. Why did it happen, why does it happen?

(Sidenote about how frustrating it is to read Money/Finance sections of the newspaper, which leave out so much.)

Lots of people seem to be wired and/or conditioned to be disdainful of transactional relationships. Paying for sex is generally considered a bad thing, even if you’re single. Why?

What is a set of things that people don’t feel comfortable about?

  • Buying and selling people (slavery)
  • Sugar daddies
  • Selling used underwear
  • Putting a specific monetary value on a human life for insurance purposes
  • Paying for someone to spend time with you
  • Paying for therapy, counselling (someone to talk to you)
  • Going on dates with the sole intent of getting free dinners and drinks
  • Paying your children to do chores and get good grades
  • Tracking every single expense you make

Maybe, but I’m not sure:

  • Pointing out that poor immigrants’ lives are demonstrably worth less that locals
  • Poor people in general are ‘worth less’ than wealthy people

There are a couple of quotes from Lee Kuan Yew that are very transactional:

  • Mr Jeyaratnam says we’re obsessed with profits. I say, ‘YES! That’s how Singapore survives!’ If we have no profits, who pays for all these? You make profit into a dirty word, and Singapore dies.

Some bits from Venkat’s post that are really worth thinking about:

  • “Middle class people do not hire other middle class people outside of a few approved exceptions such as doctors, lawyers and accountants; they work for the rich and hire the poor.”
  • “Above all this, the middle class script involves a certain aversion to talking about or dealing with tough financial decisions. It is considered unseemly. Decent people don’t talk about money, let alone risk. If you work hard and play by the rules, the money should take care of itself. If it isn’t doing that, you are probably looking for dishonest and exploitative shortcuts like the evil rich or doing dumb things like the stupid poor, and deserve what you get.”

Ribbonfarm also notes that middle-class people generally feel uncomfortable paying other people to do things apart from clearly-defined services (plumbing, accounting, etc).

There’s something called the ‘middle class financial script‘, where you escape the need to think about financial things in transactional terms, and just ‘go with the flow’, picking the default settings – a job, a mortgage, periodic vacations and so on.

The reddit comments about the ribbonfarm essay – “explaining the generally shared intuition that monetary transactions corrupt”.

Corrupt what, exactly? How, exactly?

  • Is Your Life Worth $10 Million? (Nope, but your grandchild’s will be.) – “You’re richer than your grandparents, so your life is worth more than theirs. That’s why you live in a safer world than they did: As life gets more valuable, we strive harder to protect it.”
    • ” Should a town of 100 people spend $6 million on a piece of equipment that is likely, over the long run, to save one life? Not if a life is worth only $5 million. Buying the equipment means forcing the average taxpayer to spend $60,000 for a level of safety that’s worth only $50,000 to her.”
  • One-Fifth of an American
    • “When the immigrant crosses the border, Americans lose $3, and the immigrant gains $7. To oppose that, you’d have to count an immigrant as less than three-sevenths of an American.”
    • “The $3 loss came from $10-an-hour Americans. And we usually think of a dollar as more valuable in the hands of the desperately poor. The most conservative standard assumption is that the value of an extra dollar is inversely proportional to your income, so an extra dollar is worth five times as much to a $2-an-hour Mexican as it is to a $10-an-hour American. The immigrant’s second dollar is worth a little less, and the third a little less than that.”
    • “Accounting for all that, it turns out that the immigrant’s $7 gain is worth about five times the American’s $3 loss. In other words, to justify keeping the immigrant out, you’d have to say he’s worth less than one-fifth of an American citizen.”

0665 – keep going, do reviews and improve yourself

In 2000 words, I would have completed 2/3rds of this project. Strangely, I don’t have a lot of feelings about this. I seem to feel the 10% intervals more strongly – 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 and 600 were the major events. 500 especially so, probably. At 100 I felt like I was barely beginning to know what I was doing. At 200 I felt like I was starting to get into the swing of things. I think the good stuff started happening at 300. The 400s felt like a strong run. I don’t really think much about the 500s and 600s, but if I examine them I’m sure I’ll find them to be dramatically superior to the first 200.

If I partitioned them into thirds… the first third was weak, the second third was strong, and hopefully the last third will be great. I find myself waffling and slowing down – I wrote almost nothing for the entire month of April 2017. Perhaps a part of me is subconsciously terrified of not improving past this plateau. Like I’ve somehow peaked as a writer and I’m not going to get any better.

Writing down the last sentence reveals it to be hogwash. It’s a faulty limiting belief that makes no sense. It’s well-established that lots of writers take decades to get good. And it’s highly improbable that I’m not going to make any improvement over the next 300,000 words, when it’s clear that I’ve improved twice already (within this framework). Maybe I’m frustrated because it’s not super clear or obvious what the improvement is going to be?

Writing down that last sentence reveals some obvious new options. I can write down my own goals and agendas. One thing I want to get better at is partitioning my writing in a way that is presentable. That means being more reader-centric. I unshackled myself from being reader-centric when I first started this project back in 2012, because I was trapped in a very performative sort of voice. I was writing with too many words, and my sentences were overwrought. As I write this, I can sense quite clearly that I have a superior sense of rhythm now. I don’t make palatability a priority in these vomits, because the original intent was just to get everything out of my head. But I think now it’s time to revise that.

I feel like most of what was in my head is now out. This statement is probably not factually accurate – but it feels accurate because there’s just so much material here. I have written down my thoughts, but I have not really taken the time to read them. As a result, I find myself repeating my thoughts over and over again, which is boring. To make progress, I’m going to have to re-read my thoughts. To edit and consolidate. This stuff is ‘boring’ compared to the heady feeling of just writing like a maniac. But I had also said in a much earlier vomit that I didn’t want to fill up my vomits with non-stop drivel. I want my vomits to reveal progress on my part. I am my own arbiter here. I am writing to satisfy myself, to please myself, to win myself over. So if I feel that something needs to be done before I can continue writing like a maniac, then I need to do it.

I have been in two minds over what exactly needs to be done. A part of me felt like I should pause the entire project and just switch into editing mode. And I think I definitely did that for a while. But it became clear that editing the material en masse was going to be an endless task. If I had stayed on that path, I would’ve gotten anxious and frustrated. That will not do for the context of a personal project. This project is supposed to be challenging, but it’s also supposed to be rewarding. I can be a little bit of a masochist, but I’m not going to be insane about it.

So what next then? I’m going to have to do two things at once. I’m going to keep writing at a steady tempo – 1 a day would be good. And then I’m going to have to make reviews a part of my everyday process. My god, I’ve definitely said this at least a dozen times. What stops me from doing it? I know – I probably have some sort of deep rooted issues, maybe from childhood, that keeps me from doing it. My brain keeps coming up with elaborate excuses for avoiding the truth about the necessity of reviews. So I need to sit with myself and do some therapy with myself and really just made daily reviews a serious, critical part of my every day life.

I need to dig pretty deep into my brain for this. My previous attempts have not been successful. But I am not discouraged. I know that I taught myself to cook when I used to have issues dealing with food. I know that I managed to get myself to squat 90kg when I used to be afraid to even squat 40kg. (I probably can’t squat 90kg right now, but I know I can work my way back to it). I had trouble keeping up with my remedial training for NS in the past few years, but I’m going to finish them on time this year – and I plan to not have to need them next year. So that’s progress. I went months without smoking, and I don’t smoke at work – I know I can make progress on all of those things. I am a person who is capable of improving things. Of improving myself. For my own pleasure and utility.

I’m going to go to bed in a bit. I think progress is going to require me to do more meditation, more reviews. I already know this. I just avoid it all the time, because it’s scary and uncomfortable and unfamiliar maybe. But I also know that it’s far scarier and far more uncomfortable to end up being stagnant.


0664 – tidy up after yourself

I was feeling pretty weird and shitty for a few weeks – not an all-encompassing shitty, just a sort of background shitty. And today I took a few hours to really go through my Things (to-do list app) and to go through my various blogs and sites, and I took some time to tidy them up and clean them out. It felt quite therapeutic.

It’s funny how that is. Like, I know that all of this is going on inside my head. But it seems like there are some things that I can sort of forget and then not care about, while there are other things that gnaw at me if I haven’t done anything about them in a while. Writing is one of them. Cleaning out my todo list system is another one of them. [1]

So, let’s retrace my steps here. I know that I want to be happy and fulfilled. To have a clear-headed mind free of guilt. And what I’m learning, at least for the time being, is that I can’t quite just wish it all away, I can’t quite delude myself into thinking everything’s fine. I think this is a common theme that I used to talk about – how basically my mid-20s have been a lot about me feeling sorry for myself, and me trying to be evasive and avoidant about the nature of my reality. I face up to the reality of my situation in small doses, and then runaway from it as soon as I can. But this is unsustainable and leads to misery. It’s a sort of… it’s kind of lying being dependent on substances. You can kind of enjoy them for some period of time, but eventually that phase passes. And you need to resolutely say goodbye to the person you used to be, to the life you previously had, and recognize that there’s more.

Yes. This is the thing that is happening. I may be lucky to be married, and to have a job with colleagues that I love, and to have a home, and to still have my parents, and cats, and on all of those fronts my life has been atypically stable. Everything has been “normal day” for me, before the Fire Nation attacked. But all of this is an illusion. I’m clinging on to my sort of happy fantasy, that everything is okay and everything is good and everything will be like this forever. I know intellectually that this isn’t true, but something in my subconscious clings to it. And this clinging isn’t just to the good things, but to whatever is familiar. So even my patterns of guilt and shame and things that I dislike, my subconscious keeps going back to those scripts, keeps playing those things on repeat. It’s like I’m stuck in one phase of a video game and refusing to trigger the event that would lead to the next phase – because I know that I can’t go back.

It’s kind of funny, when you formulate something so simply. But it’s the great trap of life, isn’t it? Nirvana is about exhaling, about letting go. About the absence of attachment and clinging. And I have seen how clinging has worked out for some people. I have seen old men who are really scared little boys trying to get validation, trying to get approval, trying to feel good about themselves, who are living with layers upon layers of anger and frustration and suffering. I want to be free of all of that. I want to shake all of that shit off. Or at least, lots of that shit off.

I learned a few weeks ago that I still have some weird responses wired into me from my childhood. I have a habit of freezing up in the presence of conflict. I go quiet and avoid saying anything – which is an odd change from talking so much all the time. The same is probably true for my writing. I write and write and write as a way of trying to achieve something, trying to cling on to something. I wrote about it yesterday, I think – that I write in a sort of performance of remembrance – I’m hoping that things I write will be like buoys in a sea of darkness for me, that I’ll be able to return to my old writing and be supported by it. I’m hoping that my writing is like an Iron Man suit for my consciousness. I think so far I’m about 60/40 on that. The writing itself is just a process, a discipline. Some people perform tea ceremonies. I write.

Anyway. So I was feeling some background anxiety lately about things that were left undone, and so I got around to doing stuff about them, and I feel better now. Now the important thing is to finish up this vomit, bathe and then go to bed, and then wake up early and go to work as early as I can and start doing as much work as I can. It’s really that simple. I overcomplicate things sometimes. And I don’t know why sometimes it takes me so long to return to the basic principles that I know are what I need. I have a checklist. It’s almost like I secretly sort of enjoy feeling a little anxious and miserable from time to time. And that’s probably because of some sort of fear of crossing the next threshold. I’m clinging on to who I am in order to avoid who I want to become. This is itself a sort of violence. I need to let go.


[1] At a more physical level, shaving, getting haircuts and trimming my nails all are similar – if I leave them unattended for too long, I start getting a little uncomfortable. It’s interesting to think about why this is, and how it works. I think I would be fine letting everything grow out if I was living in some sort of feral environment – like if I were on a hippie commune of some kind. But as long as I’m going to work every day, hanging out in civilization, I feel strange if I’m not well-groomed. I suppose that’s a social thing. We’re wired to take dressing from social cues. Even if there’s nobody else in the room.


0663 – start over again (and pay attention)

I’ve only published 1 other word vomit in the month of April. This is surely correlated with the amount of uneasiness I feel. At some point I promised myself that I would try to publish 3 word vomits a day, and failing that, 3 on every weekend. On retrospect, 3 a day is more than I can handle when I take my other commitments into consideration. But 3 every weekend, that is definitely achievable. So what’s stopping me from doing that? The main thing I think is that I forgot to frame it as a privilege rather than an obligation. Weekends sometimes feel like the tiniest of rest breaks, and the idea of doing work during your rest break just seems needlessly relentless and Sisyphean. But when I step back, I always see that NOT doing the work is even worse – because then I’m left with the feeling of hollow unfulfillment. Which, in my late teenage years, I discovered was despicable.

So here we are. It’s a Sunday morning, 1040am. I went to bed relatively early last night – I believe I was in bed at midnight, and probably fell asleep about 30 minutes later. And today I woke up at around 9… I feel like I’m more well-rested now than I’ve been in a couple of weeks. Maybe even a couple of months. So it would be a shame to waste it. I’m going to write the rest of this vomit, then I’m going to go downstairs to have breakfast, then I’m going to do a few more chores – clean the windows, tidy up the house – and then I’m going to be productive. I don’t think I’m going to do much work-work today, rather I’m going to work on tidying up my todo list, trimming nonsense from my various blogs and sites, and generally just tidying up and revisiting everything.

Which brings me to the subject of this vomit. One of the painful, frustrating realities of everyday life is that we have to do everything over and over again. You can’t just do it really well once and be done forever. “It”, in this case, applying to many, many things. You have to shower again every day. Eat again every day. Shit again every day. Sleep again every day. It’s relentless. There are just all these chores that need to be done, over and over again. I can finish a word vomit and feel good about it for a while, but that good feeling runs out and then I’ll have to write something again, or make something else. Either way, life often feels like this relentless struggle. As I mentioned once before, it’s an ordeal advertised as an adventure. And growing up, I think, is when you begin to see past the false advertising, and then you get past the frustration with the false advertising, and finally get around to fully embracing the reality of things as the way they are.

This is where I think I’m a little bit stuck. I’m still angry with the world for having lied to me, for having fed me bullshit. But I need to know that this wasn’t personal. This wasn’t meant to hurt me specifically. The world is just the way ti is, the world is the world. There’s a lot of uglier things that happen. Things are a lot messier than they look. I need to learn to smile and laugh through it all, and not take it so personally. It’s not all about me. It’s just the way things are.

I find myself thinking, as I write those sentences – isn’t that just going to make me all passive and meek? But that’s obviously oversimplistic. I saw a delightful phrase yesterday – “Love tells me I am everything. Wisdom tells me I am nothing. Between these two banks, flows the river of my life”. This visual is a great metaphor for a lot of different sort of seeming paradoxes. Work hard but don’t be too hard on yourself. Be firm but be kind. Be honest but don’t be hurtful. It’s always easier to err on one side or the other, to get up on the riverbank(s).

So similarly, there’s a river here too. Between being pragmatic and idealistic. In both cases I remember thinking, what matters is that you’re thoughtful about it. You can be thoughtlessly “pragmatic” in a way that is stifling. You can be thoughtlessly idealistic in a way that is naive. Both are unhelpful. You want to be able to nourish both your pragmatism and your idealism. You want to be idealistic in the long run and pragmatic in your daily execution of things. It’s hard to have both, because most of us tend to be predisposed one way or the other.

Interesting to think about it. I was a very naive, idealistic teenager. I feel like I’ve lost a lot of that and I need to rekindle it. I’ve tried to pretend to be pragmatic for a few years now, and I’ve gotten pretty good at pretending, I think. But I’m not actually good at it. I don’t actually manage my resources as well as I believe I should, as well as I think I could. But that’s a skill tree I have to invest points in, slowly and surely. I was planning to be done with this word vomit at about 1130am – I spent an entire hour in between just goofing off on the Internet.  That’s not intrinsically a bad thing, but it would be if I repeat it… repeatedly.

But anyway. The thing is the noticing, right? I remember someone saying – whenever you’re mediating, you only know you’re making “progress” when you notice your mind wandering. Noticing is the important part. It’s when you’re not noticing that you’re not being mindful. And being mindful is something that you can train, you can get better at. Life doesn’t have to be something that gets stuck in stasis. I can still go on with my earlier plans. I can still have lunch and buy a newspaper to clean all my windows… mindfully. That is my intent and I’m going to execute it.

It gets easier. But you gotta do it every day. That’s the hard part. But it does get easier. Believe it.


0662 – safe spaces

I have an essay swirling around in my mind about ‘safe spaces’ and I need to get it out of my system, but I can’t seem to talk about it in a simple, succinct way.

Let me try. So… some people think that safe spaces have a coddling effect. And maybe that’s true. And the examples are pretty lurid and fun to mock.

But the inverse is also a huge problem. ‘Nasty spaces’, or ‘free-for-all’ spaces. (I think there should be a better phrase). Toxic spaces. Basically open, anarchistic areas, “free market” areas, where anything goes.

The wishful ideal is that the freedom is intrinsically good, and the public will use it to engage in civil, mature debate, build things and make progress in an enlightened, open way.

The reality of it is a lot uglier and messier. Without some sort of ‘house rules’, the place ends up catering to the lowest common denominator. The gangsters and drunks storm the joint and mess shit up. Moderates get silenced by whoever is willing to be most destructive, most violent, most ugly. Online, for example, you can shut people up by doxxing them in a bad-faith way. This is fun for the bullies and assholes (because it gives them a sense of power), but thoroughly damaging to the community. Each time a good person leaves, the community becomes a marginally less good place for everyone. And the next best person leaves. And so on.

(This sort of happened to me on /r/singapore a few months ago, which hit me really hard and forced me to reconfigure my attitude towards open public spaces on the Internet – a very painful reconfiguration for someone who grew up dreamy-eyed on the Internet. But probably much less painful than for say, any woman who’s received all sorts of messed up shit from creepy dudes online.)

The bullies of the Internet have a scripted defense for anybody who tries to talk about this. If you’re being picked on for your race or gender, then you’re playing one of those cards, you’re overly sensitive, you’re making it all about yourself, you’re an attention whore. If you’re trying to stand up for somebody else, you’re a White Knight, trying to virtue-signal and get points for being such a good, nice person. You can’t really win either fight. And those fights are really just a distraction – you’re probably better off just ignoring it and focusing on trying to get to emphasize how toxic the environment is. (Or getting out of there, for your own sanity.)

But what the bullies don’t seem to realize – or care about – is that driving away the good people makes the entire place shittier. And this is one of the greatest tragedies. You get deprived of different perspectives, you get deprived of interesting stories, and it’s very hard to be cognizant of what you have lost each time a person-shaped Universe leaves and never comes back.

I’m most familiar with this phenomenon online, but it’s really a human thing. It happens with groups of friends, cliques, groups, etc. I think it’s the problem with sexism in the workplace. And the whole “ugh, why does everybody need safe spaces” response is rather mistaken. The problem is that many if not all environments are toxic to degrees that existing members do not recognize. And there are costs to that toxicity. It’s kind of like being a smoker who says “I’m coughing like mad but apart from that it’s not a big deal”. You just learn to adjust. And if you CAN adjust, then you’re one of the survivors. You can pat yourself on the back for being ‘tough’, but I think it’s much more interesting to focus on what you’re missing.

Anyway, here’s the paradox I’m trying to outline – most people’s dislike of Safe Spaces has to do with a dislike of being restrained. But all the best conversation, the most interesting information (money, debt, family issues, children, doubts, etc) doesn’t come up UNLESS you can create an environment conducive to it.

In a way, refusing to respect that is more restrictive than anything else. You can go anywhere you like, and say whatever you like, but nobody will ever open up to you. In a way, it’s kind of a dystopian, Black-Mirror-esque jail – the entire world around you learns to ostracize you in plain sight.

So – what is to be done? What do you do when you realize this?

I think the first thing to be done is to decide to protect the vulnerable. And the moment I typed that out I thought, “shit, that sounds like coddling”. But there’s totally a difference. Let’s try to outline that.

Think about parenting, as an analogy. You don’t want to be an overprotective parent who controls what your child sees, what she does, who she can hang out with, etc. You might even want to gently challenge her to try things that she’s unfamiliar with and uncomfortable with, because you believe she’ll enjoy it. (This is obviously a push-pull thing that you’ll have to negotiate over time, and you will make some mistakes. I am not a parent. But you get the idea.)

AT THE SAME TIME – you want your child to feel confident and comfortable reaching out to you. You want her to feel safe coming to you and telling you her uncertainties and her doubts. This will make you a better parent. This will make your child a stronger, happier, healthier child.

Of course, you’re not the parent of the whole world. Most of the time, you’re a peer. But the same fundamentals apply. You don’t want to coddle your friends with bullshit – you want to be honest with them. About what’s going on, what you see, etc. And yet you don’t want to mock and insult them. You want them to feel comfortable sharing their vulnerabilities and weaknesses. (I’m thinking now of the Loyalty Missions in Mass Effect 2. Some of the most badass people in the galaxy, and going through difficult times and talking about their feelings with one another made them stronger, not weaker.)

There’s a difference between coddling and nurturing. We can nurture people to be strong. And we should, so that they may use their strength to protect and nurture others in turn. Not insulate. Not coddle. Nurture. Empower. Embolden. It can be done.


0661 – make books a part of your life again

And now we’re on to the third and final vomit of the day. It’s 1210am on a Sunday morning. And I have to admit this feels good. It feels good to get something out of the way. I could make this my life’s mission – to do things early and get them out of the way. Because I never did that when I was a child. I always chose the dark playground first. Which you can never fully enjoy either because you know that you have work in the back of your mind. And I always told myself, “But there will always be more work!” And it’s true. I’ve written 2 vomits, and I’m about to write a 3rd, and there will still be 339 word vomits left to write after I’m done with this. And yet. And yet I’m already starting to feel a little better inside. I’m starting to feel “hey I can do this”, “hey I’m a good person for looking out for myself and my goals”. I don’t yet deserve to slack off for the rest of the day – after this I think I’m going to hit the gym to , and then I’m going to get started on some real work.

The point that I want to internalise is this – you don’t need to get everything done in order to feel good about yourself. You just need to have done enough for the day. And your subconscious does seem to generally be smart enough to know what is ‘enough for the day’. You can reevaluate and modify your idea about what is ‘enough’ later on, but in the interim, you do physically, in your body, know the difference between a day well spent and a day not. And it’s really only about 4 hours of work, I believe. But those 4 hours have to be focused, un-distracted, applied hard and heavy towards the things that matter.

This is still counter-intuitive to me despite me reflecting on it over and over again. I started writing my first vomit today at 1130 am. It’s now 1215am. It’s been 45 minutes. So it seems I’m averaging about 20 minutes per vomit. That means I’m committing myself to an hour a day. Is that a big commitment? It seems reasonable, considering the amount of time I usually spend dicking around on the internet everyday – that’s probably about 2 hours a day at least. A bunch of it is spent on commutes, which seems reasonable, but that time could really be spent reading. I know that reading books is kind of energising, and reading social media is kind of exhausting. So I think I should really change my behaviour on that front. Now that’s a 4th principle waiting to happen. What are the principles again?

* Publish 3 word vomits every day to demonstrate your commitment to yourself as a serious writer
* Publish these first thing in the morning so you aren’t worried about them for the rest of the day, and so you can sleep early
* Sleep early because being cognitively alert is great, and early mornings rule (good for writing!)

The 4th one would be – when you’re commuting, make sure you’re either reading or writing. In an ‘extreme’ case, if I write 3 word vomits in the morning, then write 1 on the way to work and 1 on the way home, that’s 5 word vomits per weekday. That’s maybe a bit much. I don’t know. Let’s stick to 3 for now and keep it going for a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I also want to think about my reading habits. I have like a hundred books in my study – probably more. Almost definitely more. And I want to read almost all of them. This reading is not happening. So what is going on here? Do I want to read, or do I just want to want to read? Well I picked up a couple of books a couple of days ago with the intent of getting rid of them, and before I got rid of them I felt that it was only fair to just riff through them a little – and in the process of that riffing I found them fascinating and I really wanted to read them all the way through. (Letters to Thinkers, and the Letters of Vincent Van Gogh – both books that I thought I’d be quite comfortable getting rid of).

If I were really forced to get rid of them, I would, but otherwise I suppose I like having them around as some sort of indefinite option. “If I ever feel like reading Van Gogh’s letters…” – but that feeling has not come to me randomly since I got the book,w probably about 5 or 6 years ago. Why? Because I do not make time to read. It’s funny. If I go to the library, I’m quite likely to pick up a whole bunch of books and then try to start reading all of them at once – and ultimately be foiled because there simply isn’t enough time. At some point I racked up a massive library fine (well massive for when I was a teenager – about $30. I paid it since) and I could no longer borrow new books. And even now the idea of going to a library to borrow books feels a bit indulgent or silly, knowing that I have so many books at home.

But I used to have books at home AND library books, and the great thing about library books were the deadlines – you’d have to return them or pay a fine. So there was an urgency involved with library books. Books you own feel different. They’re old souls that you can get comfortable with over years and years. But I haven’t accumulated the books in my home library through slow and careful consideration. I bought a ton of them at a library book sale for $2 each, and other similar events. There’s a place near my parents’ where people simply leave old books for others to take. I’ve taken a bunch. I used to almost always take something overtime I visited, and it was one of the things I looked forward to when visiting.

I guess I’m starting to get a glimpse of what my life is like without social media and constant internet urgency. I do miss a life of reading books. There’s sort of depth that you lose yourself into when reading books that isn’t quite the same when you’re opening 20 tabs in chrome or swiping on your phone. There’s something about that physical action of sitting with a book that I really enjoyed. And I’m going to make more time for it. Should I make time for it today? Well – since I’ve already written my 3 word vomits for the morning in the morning, I suppose I could read in bed tonight before going to sleep. That sounds like a wonderful plan.

* write 3 word vomits first thing in the morning
* sleep early
* read a book before sleeping

Let’s keep this simple for now.


0660 – acknowledge the monkey-mind

This will be word vomit 0660 and I’m getting started on it on a Sunday morning at 1150am. Now this is starting to feel good. A part of me is tempted to go downstairs and get some coffee, but I think I’m just going to focus on getting the writing done first. I want to do 3 vomits every morning. This is the second of today’s series. It’s like working out. I’m on my second set. I want to complete 3 sets every day. It’s just the commitment that I’ve made to myself as a writer, and it will allow me to breathe a little easier, knowing that one part of my life is a little less full of shit. Then once I make this a foothold, I can systematically reduce bullshit elsewhere in my life. Having written 1.1 vomits so far, I’m now thinking about how I’d like to work out after this is done. Isn’t it funny how that works? Admiral McRaven talked about this in his commencement speech, when talking about the virtue of making your bed. It’s just one small task that, when completed, gets the ball rolling, and gives you the confidence you need to believe and know that you can do another. And another. I have successfully written a word vomit in the morning without any distractions, without doing anything else (apart from feeding my cats and going to pee). If I can do that, what else can I do? I can write another one? Sure.

My overthinking drive kicks in at this point and says things like, “why don’t you just keep writing? Maybe you could do 40 in a single day!” Slow down, Satan. My record for most word vomits done in a single day, if I remember correctly, is 15. (Which were those again? I’m tempted to go check them out. I shall add a todo.)

But see, this is the odd way in which my brain tends to work. It races to extremes. It tries to get excited about doing something big, something bold, something all at once. [1] But I’ve been learning over the years that if you want to really do something good, something really big and bold, you’re going to have to do it in bits and pieces day after day after day. This seems boring and disappointing to the monkey-child mind, but it’s actually quite liberating, interesting and exciting to the adult mind. I want to grow up, I want to be a full adult, I want to be mature and respectable as a person so that I can be childlike and irreverent in my work. I keep saying those things because it feels good to say it, but the point is that I need to do the work required in order to achieve it.

(Here I found myself thinking about something somebody tweeted about the recent archetype of ‘former teenage rebels in positions of responsibility’ in media, and I was tempted to look it up.)

What’s next? I guess this vomit is now about the nature of my monkey mind and how it really jumps around, from thing to thing, looking for shiny things, looking for distractions. And I can’t really begrudge it for that, but I have to acknowledge that that’s how it is. Sometimes I wonder what life would be like with a child. I need to wake up to this idea that I DO live with a child – who lives inside my own brain. Sometimes it throws tantrums. I think we’ve generally improved upon our relationship in the past few years, but I’d like to really take it to the next level. I’d like to have one of those trust-fall type relationships, where we can both really trust teach other to take care of things because life is just so goddamn exhausting when you can’t trust yourself.

I need to make this a part of my reviews. [todo added]

How shall we end this? The central point here is akin to what Tim Urban described in Wait But Why’s post about procrastination. It’s all about knowing and understanding the monkey. And being kind to the monkey. Loving the monkey. And yet not entirely indulging the monkey. That’s called being an adult. That’s the textbook definition of growing up. Nobody else can look inside your head and see precisely how crazy your monkey is. I think I have an unusually crazy monkey. My monkey’s like 90th or 95th percentile crazy. But life isn’t a comparative suffering game. And there are benefits to having a crazy monkey once you know how to manage it right. It’s a source of creativity and insight. You just need to keep him from sniffing glue. That’s not too hard, right? That’s not too hard at all.

[1] “Let’s write 40,000 words in a day.” First of all, is that possible? I know it takes me about 15-20 minutes to do 1,000. So let’s say that’s 3,000/hr. 10 hours would be 30,000. It would take 14 hours. Yeah, 40,000 is probably possible but I would have to be seriously strategic about it. I would have to have my meals all planned out, I would have to have no distractions, and I would have to have all my cues set up so that I’d be able to to go through them systematically, without wasting time in between thinking things like “oh, but what do I write next?”

Hypothetically then it’s possible to write a novel in a day if you plan everything out just so. But of course it’ll take many more days to do all the editing and so on.

I wonder now if I’d like to try and finish my word vomit project with a bang, maybe in the last 50,000 stretch. I could live-stream it or something. That actually would be pretty cool. I would probably literally injure my fingers from all that typing though. Which, again, oddly sounds a little fun to me. I’m a weird person that way.


0659 – make commitments to yourself and keep them

So I’m trying something new today. I slept later than I intended last night, so it’s now 1130am. I remember that the last thing I decided last night was that I should make writing my “first thing in the morning” task. And to do that, I realise that it’s necessary not just to start writing when I wake up, but also to avoid any possible distractions prior to it. I know that my primary distraction is the Internet. As I’m writing this, I know that I have new things on Facebook and Twitter just “waiting for me”. And I’m thinking now about how liberating it actually was when I was on holiday in India and I didn’t have to bother with those things at all. Social media is really a hell of a drug.

So we’re back in the territory of principles and preferences. Should I have to “deny themselves” (see how language is leaking meaning again?) something like social media in the morning? I don’t want to say that there’s a definitive answer, but hey – I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t turned off my wifi and then closed my Telegram app, I would be scrolling through a bunch of newsfeed right now. Once I’m already scrolling through Facebook, it’s pretty easy to then open another tab for reddit. And then I can spend hours on that stuff, which is how lots of my time just slips away.

This isn’t intrinsically a bad thing if that’s how I want to live my life. I think adding too much guilt and shame to some set of nations makes the problem worse because there’s some sort of subconscious rebellion going on. It’s okay to live one’s life just coasting along and checking Facebook and Reddit every so often. The thing is, it’s becoming clear to me that I can’t do that AND simultaneously develop a large body of work in a surprisingly short amount of time. If I spend my social media hours writing, I would’ve been done with this project by now and I would’ve moved on to the next stage in my writing path/trajectory. Wouldn’t that have been cool? I think so.

Here I find that I’m in the same sort of dilemma as I was as a student – if I had studied hard and diligently instead of picking around, I would have had life open up its opportunities to me. I could’ve travelled abroad to study, met all sorts of other interesting, driven people, and things would’ve been so different. I’m good at rationalising my current position and synthesising happiness. But I don’t think I want to continue using this skill set for the rest of my life. I don’t want to just invent stories after the fact about how things are really quite okay. Because I can already say now that life will be “really quite okay” no matter how it goes. I could end up in jail for some reckless accident and then spend the rest of my life reading and writing in jail and that would still be “unfortunate but quite okay”. If I lead a moderate family life – have a couple of children with my wife,continue working on my career path for the next 30 years without trying anything different or new, maybe just learn to cook a few more dishes, and read a few more books… that would be quite okay, too. I mean, there are lots of people who haven’t even made it as far as I have, getting killed at 17 or 19 or getting childhood cancer. Not everybody gets to live a full life like Lemmy or Lee Kuan Yew or Oliver Sacks or Daniel Dennett.

(I just felt myself tempted to open Facebook. But the wifi is off. Interesting catch. These things are pretty scary when you really get down to it.)

Now I’m thinking about how Oliver Sacks is no longer in this world. Prince and Lemmy and David Bowie. It’s an interesting thing, death. Michael Jackson has been dead for some time. Lee Kuan Yew has been dead for two years. if you enlisted into Singapore National Service on the day he died, you would have ORD’d a couple of days ago. Two years ago I was in Cebu with my friend Damien when we found out. Life definitely seems to move at a faster pace as you get older. Though maybe there are some variations. Time didn’t even really seem “real” when I was in primary school. I didn’t quite consider it. You had a birthday every year which was something you looked forward to, and new year’s, and holidays and such, but that seemed to be about it. As someone on reddit said – the Christmases you experienced from 6 to 12 were just pure happiness with no baggage, no guilt, no shame, no worries or cares, just magical. Something like that. But that isn’t something we should be yearning for (although we all probably secretly will – there’s a hero’s journey aspect to it, there’s a Freudian aspect to it.)

[2nd FB impulse]

It’s interesting how meta and recursive everything gets, and how challenging it is to ever come up with a set of points that adequately reflects this, without turning itself into a sludgey mess. I think it’s a challenge I would like to attempt to solve in my lifetime. Just for fun, out of curiosity. I do think it can be done with words. Or maybe in film, or animation. I need to watch that anime with the crazy cuts. Maybe I need to experiment with word vomits with crazy cuts. Which would be an interesting sort of ‘full circle’ – my early vomits were about me trying to talk about many different things to fill up the space. Along the way I tried to focus and stick to the matter at hand, which I think I’ve gotten reasonably decent at doing. And now I’m thinking about how I can bring up multiple things to talk about the same thing. It’s an evolution. I’m thinking of Dave Chappelle’s standup now, where he told multiple stories while also telling 4 little stories about the times he met OJ Simpson. It was just a clever, interesting bit of structure. One of the Ender’s Game sequels did that too, by using bits of a conversation between two characters as introductions to chapters. It makes me realise, as I’m writing this, that something seemingly straightforward and simple can be made interesting based on how you pace it, how you set it up, how you tell it. I don’t think I quite appreciated that enough as a creator. And it really reveals that even though I’ve spent so much time writing words, I haven’t spent any time telling stories at all. I should start doing standup. I should start doing video. And I should start writing shitty fiction.


0657 + 0658 – identify your principles by examining your behavior patterns

What are my principles?

A bunch of my colleagues were chatting about our company values and it was an interesting discussion – some of us have been around since before we sat down to articulate them, and others have joined later on and encountered them as though they were always there. It was interesting to talk about why we came up with them in the first place, and how we were hesitant to codify them at the start, and how they’ve since actually been useful in running the company because they help us evaluate decisions that have been made and so on.

(The important thing to making this work is to be able to evaluate past decisions according to the stated values, celebrate good examples, and evaluate bad examples. A company’s values are not what it says they are, but what it prioritizes, what it rewards. There is utility in having your actual values and stated values be aligned. If they are misaligned, then there are costs. There’s the minor cost of carrying around a bunch of meaningless phrases that don’t mean anything, and the more major cost of everyone now doubting the truth-value of everything else that is said in the organization.)

Which brings me to thinking about my own personal values and principles. I prefer the word ‘principles’ to ‘values’, because the latter is quite a loaded phrase with all these moral implications. Principles is an easier term to work with. They’re the fundamental, axiomatic assumptions we make about how to do things. Ask me what my values are, and honestly I have no idea where to begin. I’ll probably make something up based on whatever is recent in my memory. Ask me what my principles are, and I think my mind is naturally led to more rigorous territory. But still not nearly as rigorous as I think I’d like.

Everybody has principles whether they realise them or not, whether they articulate them or not. “I have no principles” is still a system – you’ll still almost always have more things to do than you can actually get done, so you’re always going to have to be making trade-offs. You might just not be aware that you’re making these trade-offs, maybe because you’re attending to whatever is most urgent, whatever is noisiest or scariest, or whatever is most fun or easy. Or maybe (this is highly improbable, in my opinion) you’re Truly Random about how you prioritise things.

If you examine a history of behaviour – whether a person’s behaviour, or an organization’s – you will almost definitely find patterns. (Your pattern-recognition system itself is likely biased, because humans are wired to recognise patterns even when they aren’t there, so you have to be self-reflexive and consider whether the patterns you observe are actually there, or cherry-picked, or imagined.) But you will almost definitely find real patterns, because it’s staggeringly difficult for any person or group of persons to be truly random. People are creatures of habit. Think of any old friend that you have, and how you may have had the same conversation with them dozens of times. Think of your own set of internal thoughts. Most people (myself included) have a surprisingly small number of thoughts. There’s a great quote by Christopher Alexander about how “If I consider my life honestly, I see that it is governed by a certain very small number of patterns of events which I take part in over and over again.”

Let’s recap what I’m trying to say here. Most people can reduce their lives into a surprisingly small number of little patterns. If you examine these patterns of events and behaviours, you should be able to identify trade-offs that are made repeatedly. These repeated tradeoffs are indicative of preferences, or principles. Now, the phrase ‘preference’ is a bit loaded. There are people who repeatedly do things that they say they hate. And they look like they’re suffering, like it’s very unpleasant, and they seem really tired, guilty, ashamed, all of those things. But if they do it over and over again, then they have a ‘preference’ for it. It could be that they are not aware of other options, or that they don’t believe that other options exist, or if they do exist, they seem impossible, or if they seem possible, it still seems too difficult or complicated. For example, for a long time I had an aversion to the kitchen. The kitchen was an ‘ugh field’ for me. If my wife was in the kitchen, and she called to me to help her, I would literally ignore her, or say something like “yup, coming” and then not move. You could say that I had a preference for not-cooking. An aversion to cooking. Or I preferred eating takeout, which is typically unhealthier.

As I write this, it occurs to me that language makes this a little more complicated than it has to be. Language is very loaded with meaning that isn’t always intended. I just spent a seemingly unnecessary amount of time trying to work around the word ‘preference’. But really all I’m trying to say is… when it comes to patterns of behaviour, people do behave in startlingly mechanical ways. I mean… animals can be incredibly mechanic. One of the things that often blows my mind is seeing my cats groom themselves aggressively after being startled. It’s self-soothing behaviour. Humans do the same thing too, with junk food or internet distractions and notifications and whatnot. I remember reading a passage in Lives of a Cell where Lewis Thomas described how some insect would perform some act with mathematical precision – and if you moved the object, it would then repeat the action indefinitely for as long as you could be bothered to do it.

I’m now thinking of something else, about how humans are blessed and cursed with fuzzy minds and fuzzy thoughts – evolutionary ‘mistakes’ that turned out to have some seeming biological advantage. (This is still yet to be seen, we may destroy ourselves yet. Or we may spread life beyond Earth. Which, in turn, is not obviously a good thing either. We’ll see. Or not.) The point is – pre-humans are incredibly mechanical and methodical and precise. This leads to moths burning themselves in flames. Humans like to flatter ourselves by thinking that we’re better than that. But we all get drawn to flames of our own. We systematically fall into traps designed to exploit our biases – fake news, clickbait, boobs on video thumbnails, cute cats… they’re all the same sort of thing.

We might differ on some finer points about determinism and free will, and about precisely how mechanical or predictable humans are. I think humans have the capacity to surprise themselves and each other, and that’s where art and laughter comes from. But these surprises often tend to be rather ‘localised’, or discrete. Sometimes if we’re lucky, it inspires or challenges a person to make a big change to their lives and to then restructure themselves to contribute to humanity in some cool way. But most of the time I think most people tend to be quite comfortably circling around a simple-ish life that they find fulfilling. Not that simple is bad or anything, just that people are different.

I’m having an unusual amount of trouble sticking to the matter at hand in this vomit here, lol.

Where I think we can find common ground is this: people are instinctively familiarity seeking, routine-seeking. I remember when I was a teenager there were some who liked to put on this persona of “oh I’m so random haha”, which was never quite as random as they’d have liked to think. There’s a predictability to ‘i’m so random’ randomness – for some it’s quirky stuff, for some its gore, for some it’s sex, whatever – it’s about looking for things that are tangential or taboo, and people actually have almost depressingly few things to choose from.

I mean, it’s just challenging to be creative in general. Complete gibberish doesn’t mean anything. So you have to pick something that’s different in the right amounts, in the right way. I think /r/askreddit is quite a good place to hang out on to get a sense of people’s originality and predictability. Music and fashion changes, but in a sort of cyclic, I refute my predecessor way. Yeah, let’s talk about music. What was the last really original piece of music to come around? What was the last really novel pop song? Everything is a remix. People fundamentally want the same things. Creativity works within some anthropocentric constraints.

Right? Okay.

So I think I’ve established that people are generally quite predictable most of the time, generally want the same things, generally fear and avoid the same things, and so on. Most people don’t change that drastically (although we’re all one hard, well-placed knock to the head away from becoming a completely different person). Some people change… and come to think of it I’d really like to read a study that really dug deep into people who’ve changed dramatically. I think Charles Duhigg referenced something like that in Power of Habit.

But what I’m getting at with all of this is… if people have patterns of behaviour, then those patterns of behaviour reveal their principles. If you’re a striving sort of person, there’s almost definitely a gap between your desired principles and your revealed principles. This is definitely the case for me. I was ‘hoping’ to be asleep at midnight, and it’s now 230am. So what does this mean? Am I not really serious about wanting to sleep early? In this case I let myself frame it as “oh, I want to write, too. I want to publish 3 word vomits a day. And I’d rather sleep late than not publish.” Is this always true? Not always. This is just the second day that I’m making sure to publish 3 vomits in a day. Can I continue to keep the chain going? If so, then I can say that “my highest known, articulated principle is that I should publish 3 vomits every day. My 2nd strongest principle would be that I should sleep early.”

How do I achieve both? Wanting to publish 3,000 words a day and sleep before midnight sounds like a very achievable thing to me. So what’s stopping me? I’m starting too late. Why don’t I start earlier? And I’m working with distractions. A friend had texted me and I was enjoying myself texting back. So the question I have to ask myself is – is it acceptable to me to allow my friends’ texting me to interrupt my writing, which then interrupts my sleep? It’s okay if the answer is yes, but then I need to know why exactly that is okay.

So this is where we get to an interesting place. I get to decide now what is okay and what is not. And I’m tempted to argue in defence of my immediate past behaviour, so I don’t feel like I”m betraying myself. I could rationalise it as “well, it was an interesting conversation, and interesting conversations are a part of being a good writer”. It would be true. But I don’t like this. The 3rd principle doesn’t fit with the other two. Sleeping early leads to improved overall cognition and well being. Writing every day makes me a better writer. If I anticipated having a conversation at night, I should have gotten my writing done out of the way. Perhaps it would be prudent then to get my writing done first thing in the morning every day, so that I can then go about the rest of my day without worrying about whether or not something interesting is going to crop up and put me in a mess.

That makes sense, right? Makes sense to me. So. Sleep early. Write 3 word vomits first thing in the morning. Let’s try that tomorrow. Time for bed.