Living Out Loud
April 13th, 2024

When the Writing Was Easy

The Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire
The Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire
Easy Writing vs. Hard Writing


The easiest writing I've ever done was on my 156 day honeymoon in 2013. My wife and I got married on Day One of an Appalachian Trail thru hike and I kept a blog of the entire trip, thumb typed every night while lying in a sleeping bag in our tent or in one of the shelters built along the length of the 2,189-mile trail which stretches through the Appalachian Mountains from Maine to Georgia. The writing was easy because I had all day to craft every entry in my mind as my feet navigated up and down mountains and thru monotonous tunnels of green rhododendrons stretching for miles. Some aspect of the experience would occur to me and I'd have hours to mull it over in my mind to find ways to explain to out friends and family back home who were following along via my daily posts (or whenever I had cell service). I wrote about the unrelenting hunger that stemmed from continuous activity paired with the inability to carry enough food to match my appetite. I wrote about the variety of personalities we encountered among our fellow hikers and in the trail towns we hiked through. I wrote about everything I could think of from the gear we used, to the weather we endured. It was a glorious time and truly one of the highlights of my life. 

Back in the real world, it isn't like that. As much as I'd like to day dream about my next blog post, my mind is occupied with the tasks at work. What's the matter with Dr. Baker's laptop this week? How come none of the students can log in to the computers in the math lab? Why does the printer in accounting get so many jams? None of that is sexy. None of it is fun. And, no one wants to read about it any more than I want to write about it.

I'm trying to train myself to look for ideas. I write about tech a lot, so I try to figure out what I can share about the tools I like or the workflows I've come up with. A lot of the people in the IndieWeb spaces I frequent are technically minded, so I can assume a certain degree of fluency on their part. I can even aim for the super-niche audience who are as obsessed with using my current Software Girlfriend, Obsidian, as I am. Part of the process is just pure self discipline. Sometimes I just have to sit down with my laptop and  a blank page and force myself to start typing, having the confidence that I'll generate something I might care to share with other people. I think the key to feeling good about what I write is being honest, putting in good faith effort to inform or entertain and intentionally trying to be part of a community of creatives from whom I can learn. The occasional feedback email or Mastodon toot in response to a blog post feel great and serve as motivators to keep writing.