End of the day, 0017hrs. Done with shower. Waiting for wife to shower.
The vomits are a tragicomic manifestation of my life at large
It’s a little amusing and a little disheartening for me to be mindful of the state I am in at word vomit number 0176. I have been doing this in a very haphazard, unsystematic way, which is pretty much how I live my life, too. The vomits aren’t entirely in chronological order- sometimes I do a vomit on Evernote and I forget about it, and then I find it later on and publish it. Sometimes I stitch together two half-vomits into a new vomit altogether. I don’t have a single fixed way of writing. I don’t know whether I should edit my older vomits or not. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. It’s a real mess.
(If only I had realized that all the filing nonsense I had to deal with in school was actually a head-fake for me to learn how to file and manage things that actually matter to me!)
Initially I didn’t know how I wanted to deal with all of this, so I went with my number one coping mechanism- I just put it all off entirely. I repeated a number somewhere at one point in time, and I had to re-number a whole bunch of vomits. The whole thing seemed kind of counter to the intent of the vomits. I was doing more administrative work than actual vomiting. I had envisioned this beautiful alternate version of reality where all I needed to do was to keep writing, and everything else would take care of itself.
But what WAS the intent of the vomits? Perhaps I ought to return to that. The idea was that I would be a different writer by the end of 1000 vomits. That’s it. To do something 1000 times and to incorporate whatever I learn along the way. The objective wasn’t to have 1000 pristine, perfect vomits. I knew from the start that that wouldn’t be possible. The idea was just that I ought to complete 1,000,000 words by my own standards. I might even meet that target at word vomit 900 or 950, because I have a habit of exceeding my targets, but I’ll keep going till I have 1000 vomits.
Perhaps the first 200 vomits will reveal themselves to be the early, crappy works where everything is haphazard and ugly. Perhaps the last 200 vomits will be polished and refined in spite of the “stream-of-consciousness” idea, because I’d have gotten that much better at doing it. Who knows? Certainly not me, and I should stop pretending that I have any idea.
I feel like I need to dig deeper. Why did I want to do the vomits in the first place? Why did I want to write 1,000,000 words, why did I want to do 1,000 sets of 1,000 words? (I realize I can probably go back and read 0001, but before I do that I want to try and attempt to answer the question. Then I can go back and compare notes and see how much I’ve rewritten my own history.)
Here are some reasons for the million words:
I’ve noticed that great writers write in great quantities. Ray Bradury wrote at least a thousand words a day, supposedly. In more contemporary contexts, Seth Godin has been blogging for over a decade. patio11 of Hacker News has written over a million words in his comments alone. I get angry, annoyed and frustrated when I read sensationalist writing- smartass tweets that get a ton of retweets, etc- and I decided that if I want to compete with that, I want to compete asymmetrically. I want to go long. I want to write more than any of my would-be peers can match.
That’s the arrogant, angry egoistical sort of answer. The more reflective answer is that everything is a remix, and that all great artists started out copying other people, doing derivative work. You can’t get to the really interesting, ‘original’, cutting-edge stuff until you’ve been writing and rewriting over and over again. The best way to avoid copying others is to copy EVERYBODY, over and over again, until you’ve literally played everything there is to play. You’ve played every configuration, and your brain starts coming up with new and or different things just so you’re not bored.
I think this is working out for me as a tactic. I had a conversation about this with my boss, too. How many times can a person repeat themselves before they get bored? How many times can you talk about how badly you want to do something, until you get sick of the conversation and actually do it? For smoking, it took me years to quit. I think I wanted to quit since 2010, and I made about 5-10 attempts (not sure of the exact number). I failed again and again and again.
I want to be a good writer more than I want to be a non-smoker. I’d actually happily pick up smoking again if it made me a good writer, but I know better now. The only thing that makes you a good writer is more writing. And reading, of course. You need to read excessively and then write excessively. Then you need to rework your old stuff again and again and again, so that you identify what works and eliminate what doesn’t. I liked the idea of doing this in a very deliberate way rather than hoping it happens by chance, so I figured that doing a million words would be a good way to get my engine running. I don’t intend to be done at the end of 1000 vomits. That’s when I intend to get started. That’s when I expect my best work to just start coming to me. Or maybe it’ll happen a decade after that.
The ENTP/ADHD mind to me is kind of like a firehose. You just spurt out tonnes and tonnes of material, but a lot of it is initially sludgy, gross, hard to use. You need to get all the dirt and muck out (the stuff at the head of the nozzle, that got stuck there from a lifetime of non-use). Then once that initial stuff is blasted out (I think I’m already done with that), you need to to spray your stuff over a broad range of topics, use it in many different contexts, twist it turn it flip it remix it rewrite it. You don’t know in advance what will work.
The 1000 vomits is a way for me to give myself a shot at coming up with something new, interesting, something compelling, and the rather than actually try to achieve those things, I’m simply going through everything I have over and over again until I get absolutely sick and tired.
My Current Zietgeist
I feel like I’m heading down this path about identity, about behavioral change. I feel like I have contributions to make in the realm of procrastination. Almost everything I’ve read about procrastination has been absolute shit, in my humble, unqualified opinion. I think it’s because people treat it like something that can be solved with a bag of tricks, that some app or some helper or system will save you.
I think it goes deeper than that. I think it goes deep into a person’s psyche, a person’s identity, the lives they lead, the friends they surround themeselves with, their environment. The procrastination isn’t a problem nearly as much as it is a symptom, and trying to make the symptom go away without addressing the root causes is rather futile. And the root causes can be really… subtle? Amorphous? It could be literally an existential woe. Why bother doing your work when the universe is going to be extinguished in the end? Heh, maybe I should start a post with that premise. That’s what my next vomit shall be.