It is clearly hard for me to stop feeling like I should be doing things. I am home alone for a couple of days, and while I very definitely still am someone who can enjoy time to myself, it only took a day or so before I found myself sitting around wondering how I should best spend the time. Is it weird to feel so aware of having a limited amount of "special" time (whatever that means to you), and at the same time find it difficult to decide what to do with it?
It might not help that the days and especially nights are a tad too warm for me. Sleeping less good than average never helps.
This is just part of the way I often feel torn between trying to really relax and do nothing, or to try and focus on something constructive or creative, often landing like most of us do in some annoying halfway state of updating social feeds and watching short-ish clips instead of full movies.
"I have this time, I should be doing more with it!"
Okay, mind, how about the fact that I put a good number of things on my to-do list for today, and have finished them all? How about the stuff I got done at work? The ideas I managed to jot down here and there? The fact that I am writing this down, right now?
All of this is so not new. I have always been like this.
You might think I would eventually get better at it …
I have done a bit more of active preparations for tonight's recording of Björeman // Melin, actual research one might say. The notes document is still short, but I suspect those few points can easily expand to fill an entire episode in a nice way.
Over on the Kodsnack Slack I was pointed to a new - to me - blog post by Steve Yegge about Google and how their way of deprecating software (cloud infrastructure-type software in this case) is hurting their users and themselves. I always find Steve Yegge worth reading, and his posts are always way over on the long side. This was commented on in the Slack thread, and I was reminded how - long ago - he at one point wrote about how and why his posts are always so long. The way I managed to boil it (my own vague memories of that long text I read long ago) after a few attempts was that it more or less prevents hot takes, both from the reader but also the writer. Going long by providing more context can also make you reason more, make more thoughts explicit, and put them in whole different ways than if all you had was a tweet. You can work through more thoughts and approaches. We are humans, we enjoy stories, they give us more than bullet points. The reader, in turn, will be provided with a whole lot more context. And, if you do take the time to read a long text about a topic, you will get a lot more nuance out of it in the end. If you could jump in and read the clickbait tweet without any background information, you would have a reflexive reaction to it, fire off a snarky one-liner in response, and either move on with your life or get involved in a shouting match with someone whose reflex was in the direction opposite of yours.
(I still think the general rule of "more time, shorter letter" applies by the way, regardless of final letter length.)
This sparked further associations for me. I recalled that Steve Yegge used to work for Amazon, and I also recalled reading somewhere (Steve's writings?) that Amazon has or used to have an interesting meeting policy. You did not call a meeting before you had written a multi-page memo about whatever the meeting was about. Providing context, reasoning about options, and so on. No memo - no meeting. If it was not worth the effort of a thought-through memo, it certainly was not worth locking multiple expensive people inside a conference room for.
Finally, as I started writing about all this my mind made another association, this time to Marco Arment talking on ATP about podcast episodes versus blog posts. He talked about how much better it was to talk about any sensitive topic (i.e. any topic which people might have more than a single point of view on) on a podcast than to write a blog post about it. Blog posts provoke angry replies, shouting matches, rage over discussion. Podcasts allow room to breathe, space to think and talk things through, and even sensitive topics can get cosntructive responses (and in much lower volumes).
So: a long podcast or a long text provide the same kind of insulation against hot takes? A bit of a barrier to entry which at the same time assures the reader or listener will get much more nuance out of their time investment?
I do not want to write long for the sake of it, but it does feel appealing to try and write longer when there is a topic with context worth giving. It might really be as simple as to try and tell stories rather than trying to boil everything down to a clever headline and two paragraphs of fifty words each.
(Side note: writing outdoors in the almost unreasonably warm August night? Not bad at all for your state of mind. Nice for the Macbook to get out of the basement, too.)