Sunday, August 25, 2019

Three Reasons Why I Write

Why do you write ?
This was one of the questions put forward by the moderator during the career stories panel discussion recently.

To be honest, I didn't anticipate this question being asked. I did respond to it then but felt like I should elaborate on it by means of this blog. My reasons to write have evolved over the years. This blog has been in existence for more than 10 years now. I recall that when I started I was doing my bit towards sharing the experience I was gaining. At that time, it was focused mostly for sharing perspectives on software engineering. As I grew in my thinking, so did the list of topics I wrote about.

I have to be honest in sharing that I didn't stop during this time to ponder 'Why do i really write ?'. Though the frequency of my blogs remained inconsistent, I did develop a sort of internal clock which periodically nudged me to consider writing. These internal nudges greatly contributed to the continuity of these blogs and my other writing endeavors over the years.

In interest of brevity and not going too far back in the past, let me delve into a couple of reasons which prompts me to write these days:

1. Writing helps to disconnect from the routine:
There are challenges every day. There are situations every day that tends to pull us down, cause us stress, gives us a moment of jov, achievement and exhilaration. I have a long held belief that we are all playing a zero-sum game when it comes to our careers. At the end of 30-35 years of our careers, we would have unfairly gotten rewarded despite putting in less efforts. On the contrary, we would have unfairly gotten less credit despite putting in quality efforts. It eventually evens out, leading me to call it a zero sum game but the contrasting situations does give us a lot of residual stress to deal with every day. Any hobby, any interest really acts as a distraction that we need to disconnect from the real world. I have had many hobbies, do try to actively add one every year but writing has to be one of the long standing hobby. When i write, i get immersed in the subject for the time keys gets tapped or when pen scribbles on the paper. The more time fingers get to touch the keyboard or the pen, the more it helps to maintain distance from the real-world. Writing has that magical power to teleport us to a different world and that helps add equanimity to the life.

2. Writing as a means to review and reflect:
I was recently reading this book- "Get Better at Getting Better: by Chandramouli Venkatesan. I resonated a lot with this book because of many reasons, one of which was that it put forth the point

that hard-work alone doesn't lead to success, it is a combination of hard-work (effort) and the extent to which you are willing to get better. And one of the techniques it suggests for us to get better is "Review and Reflection". I will come to this technique in a bit but before that I feel it is important to comment that this operates on the premise that you can improve yourself at your area of work much like sportspeople improves themselves i.e. deliberately, during the game, and during the practice.

"Review and Reflection" technique is really about being deliberate to answer these 2 questions periodically (possibly every hour):
1. What could have i done to get better outcomes in last one hour ? (Review question)
2. Why didn't I get the better outcome in the first place itself ? (Reflection question)

In effect, writing helps making this process of improvement much more effective. Scribbing down your answers to the review question and then tothe reflection question really helps to make the process more delibrate, leading to better results. To think over it, it's not a rocket-science. Improving self is just a matter of habit and writing is a tool that helps us achieve that.

3. Writing helps maintain balance between creation and consumption:
I learned about the notion of consumption and creation from Tanmay Vora's blog- Consume less, Create more.
In our busy lives compounded by the role internet, mobile phones and social media plays, we are always in the consumption mode. For an average human being, a good amount of our time is spent in scrolling up and down the contents in our favorite sites and apps. Add to that the content
consumption via emails, slack, documents, we have really become consumption machines. To get the sanity back in our lives, we often need to free time to go off the consumption treadmill.

Why do i feel that mindless consumption isn't desirable ? Let me explain with an analogy. What happens if we eat or drink more than what our body can handle ? We would either throw it off or after a while the extra consumption shows up as a fat in our body. Unfortunate, our mind doesn't have any visible mechanism to show the ill-effects of over consumption of contents. The effects probably surfaces as unclear, muddled thought-process or may be lack of sleep.

The moot point here is that we should endeavor to balance consumption with creation. Writing helps maintain this balance. It helps process the consumed content and gives you creative license to jot down the processed contents in your own ways. To me, this is the biggest reason I write these days. The time i am writing is the time i am away from actively consuming the contents and this is the time that adds balance to my life.

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