24 May 2020

The downhill started with a challenge.

A year ago, I wanted to do more experiments with my writing. After a change of occupation, I was looking for a change in writing too. I didn’t feel much like writing in the old format I’ve been using - pondering on interesting phenomena. A lot of it didn’t have a direct impact on my life and I felt bored of writing.

I turned to cooking for inspiration.

Those who know me on a personal level know that I enjoy cooking and like to experiment and cook meals stretching my skills with every meal, and learning something new. Cooking never got boring to me, as there are different foods and techniques to perfect. My plan therefore was to try different writing formats and learn to express myself through each format.

So far so good. However, I neglected other sides of cooking which made it fun. Cooking also brought instant gratification when the result was success, and an instant learning otherwise. And cooking often had a social element - it felt satisfying to share the food I made with friends and family. One rewarding moment was when I brought a home made Easter bread, Kozunak, to my friends house and their two toddlers really enjoyed it. I didn’t think too highly of the result before I shared, but the nice surprise of seeing the kids’ unfiltered enjoyment made me feel proud as a cook, and more connected to my friends.

For writing, I decided to try long form essays. One of my early inspiration was the topic of Universal Basic Income and the fungibility of money and value. That was when Andrew Yang still had a chance for 2020. I wanted to write a definitive way to think about it that is well researched and thorough. I thought it can become a good starting point of discussion of the merits and drawbacks of UBI. And what is even more, I was genuinely curious to figure out the details and form a strong opinion. I wrote a good volume of words, but wasn’t happy enough to publish it, and the more I was looking the more gaps I was finding.

Then COVID hit and I put writing on the further back burner. As things settled into their new grooves, I developed interest in a new topic to dive in - accountability for COVID and disaster prevention. Long story short, this turned out the same as with the UBI topic - I didn’t really get to the point where can publish it..

Part of the reason why I failed twice to write a long form essay is that I didn’t spent much time writing. It’s a body of work. An absolute unit. But another reason is that I didn’t feel instant gratification from writing and was missing a social aspect - thus I failed to ignite the excitement. I felt stuck, and I missed writing regularly.

So I decided - less is more. Instead of trying to too smart for my own good, which would be the cooking equivalent of running a production kitchen, I decided to focus on short personal stories, with only a sprinkle of abstract thought. Those are easier for me to write, as the volume is less, and I am ultimately the arbiter of my own experience and emotions. This would give me more instant gratification, as writing has been a great way for me to clarify my thoughts. Now I can direct it to clarify my emotions and share more of my life, hopefully connecting more with others in the process.

I’m looking forward to the uphill, one short story at a time.

One short post per week, discussing actionable mental models. Join a community of readers, who receive these posts over email.