Demands on Your Attention

A huge reason, perhaps the reason I've regularly dropped away from blogging has been done to just having nothing to write about. I often wonder how people find so many things to write about, and a drive to blog so frequently. I recently came across a great post from Matt Bircher that not only shared a very interesting top level overview of Matt's writing process, but it also highlighted to me a major problem with my own method, or lack thereof, when it comes to blogging.

Writing in this post, Matt states:

Between this blog, my newsletter, and my YouTube channel, I'm always in need of things to talk about, which means I'm always on the lookout for cool things in the world. By hunting down those enjoyable things to share with others, I'm of course also getting value from them, and everything just feeds into everything else.

Matt also included this basic diagram of his flow. Hopefully he wont mind me resharing it here:

I've often stated my current addiction to video games as the cause for me not writing enough, and this doesn't help, but I've seen now that the bigger issue is actually the process of finding the things to write about. When I get down to it, my writing is passable. I'm not too concerned by feedback, though thoughts from others is welcome and pleasant always. The 'reading' part that Matt flags in his post, and the process image above, is a huge part of my problem, however.

I'm quick to use all of the latest news aggregators. I've said in the past I'm using and love Matter, but truth be told I open it regularly but very rarely actually read anything. I also love Reeder and have this on my homescreen right next to Matter. Do I open it every day? Yes, of course. Do I actually read anything in there beyond headlines? No, very rarely. I've started raving about HEY again, and have signed up to a load of really good newsletters which has been my main reason for using it as my primary email client. Have I spent time updating the contact page for every newsletters so I get a nice avatar in my inbox? Yes, of course. Have I then actually started reading the newsletters I get every day and use the built in clips feature to save some interesting quotes or articles? No, of course I haven't. I love the Quick Notes feature on my iPad, but do I actually use it to very quickly save links I've looked at when flicking around the web? You guessed it, nope!

I often try to read at night, using my beloved iPad Mini, but it makes me fall asleep within minutes. This I can't help, but I also struggle to stay asleep and often wake up at 4-5am and lay in bed flicking around on YouTube Shorts or Reddit. I could be using this time to read more. Not only for the purpose of blogging, but to expand my mind a little. I'm not sure gaming is to blame for this entirely, but over the years my attention span has shrunk to the size of a Planck Length. The quick content hits of Twitter, and the like, are probably not helping this. I think my sources of incoming information are so vast at the moment (I specially tried to avoid using the phrase these days to belie my actual old man status) that I'm being hit with a paralysis of choice and have mentally opted to read no news sources rather than making the effort to parse the information presented to me and make a decision on which one(s) I will spend my time reading. Once again the quick fix of hitting the 'mark all as read' just to get it out of my reading inbox takes over. Rather than leaving a feed of a huge treasure trove of the worlds knowledge and experience sitting there waiting for me to consume at my own pace, something inside me tells me to clear it down, move on and go back to flicking through random guff on Reddit.

I'm not sure what the solution is here, to be honest, and it goes well beyond just finding some things to blog about. It's about a fundamental switch in my need to always have something going on. Some noise, or videos playing in the background, or to shoot random strangers in a game whenever work or family life isn't demanding my attention. It's about embracing the sound of silence in a more mindful way and reallocating some of my time spent on achieving short fixes of no value and use this time to learn, develop, improve, and ultimately grow myself. This doesn't just apply to just my mental side, but my physical also. Should I play Halo every night? Appealing as that may be, maybe one or two nights could be spent on the excecise bike, or taking a long walk to clear my head. Quick fixes and easy wins have their place in all of our lives to unwind, now more than ever. It's too easy for these to become all encompassing, however. To be the only thing we strive for. The other option takes effort, and thought, but I think an investment here will be worth it both inside and out.

This post evolved far beyond my original intention of sharing Matt's post and just mentioning I really don't read enough. It's moved onto my usual waffle, but it does go to prove that actually taking the effort to read a post properly has prompted both a 1,000 word post, but also helped me reasses, or at least identify, some issues in my own life. Feels like a worthy click, and use of time to me.