🧠 Brain STREAM 2️⃣0️⃣: Exposure to Joy in Writing is Infectious

🧠 Brain STREAM 2️⃣0️⃣: Exposure to Joy in Writing is Infectious
Finding the joy in writing

It can be quite easy to fall out of love with hobbies when we push beyond the remit of doing them just for enjoyment. Sometimes when I extend myself too much beyond this boundary it removes some of the joy I found in it originally. Though I would never say I have fallen out of love with writing, I go through peaks and troughs with my enthusiasm to start a writing task.

Some weeks the enthusiasm flows in buckets. I end up with a list of ideas as long as my arm. Picking just one to focus on is a challenge. These are the weeks my newsletter ends up nearer to 3000 words. Other times like this week, ideas are sparser. It's not that I don't have a massive list of writing subjects to fall back on, it's just there's a shortage of what I would call 'in motion' ideas. These are reflected in the weekly insights of which I write about in these newsletters.

This week has been a strange week by many standards. Not only have I had a day 'off' i.e. not doing PhD stuff, but something has changed in my 'writing' brain. It's been distinctly quiet up there!

This may be due in a large part of being heavily focused on writing a single article. Sometimes I get an idea that trumps everything else so there seems to be no brain space allocated for anything else to make an appearance. It's risky business taking this approach, but it's one I value immensely. It's very hard for me to write short pieces of work. Both my BSc and MSc theses were long. I've had many comments on just how long my MSc thesis is. Not in a bad way, but in a 'you put a lot of work into that' way. It was probably only 20,000 words off a PhD. That's just how I roll.

I believe, but then I'm biased, the article I'm writing has the potential to do well. And it's the fact that I have enjoyed writing it so much that signals to me others will also read that joy. A previous article I wrote about how Leonardo da Vinci inspires my to do lists is in the same vein and it is my most successful article to date. In that article I felt the same joy in writing it as I feel joy in researching and writing the current piece. The Da Vinci article is also particularly special because I had just started writing and I got it published in Better Humans on Medium. To say it was a morale boost would be an undersell.

Publishing this type of article tells me something really interesting; if I truly enjoy the writing in terms of exploration, research, writing and editing for the final story, my readers will probably also share the same feeling. But these types of articles take a long time to come to fruition both from an idea point of view but also from a writing perspective.

It's been a bit tricky for me to write more on Medium in the last six months, not because of time necessarily but because the articles that have typically done well - i.e. are worth it from a writing-for-money point of view - are not the articles I enjoy writing. That's not to say they aren't good to write if they resonate with people, but I need to retain a certain amount of joy to keep up a writing strategy I anticipate to take years.

When I first started writing on Medium, it was always supposed to be my creative outlet and my website, Knowledge Ecology, would be the serious stuff. But as time moved on my writing on Medium moved away from creativity and more towards Obsidian and Capacities workflows. It's much less enjoyable to write about my workflow in Obsidian which pretty much changes on a weekly basis anyway, than applying a creative lens to my experiences of the everyday. It's these weekly experiences that build more personal fulfilment and self-improvement in six months than the few extra dollars which end up in my bank account.

What I'm relying on, with the advent of the AI-generated text, is that people will look to articles with real voices and experiences. Objectivity doesn't make us feel the joy, but insight and connection does. Medium is relying on the same thing to happen so I'm not alone, but that doesn’t mean it isn't lonely. I therefore really do need to make sure I enjoy the process in the meantime.

On this short note, I will leave you with this insight:

What do you write to bring you joy, both for yourself and to your reader? Do they match up?

I'll be sure to share the article I'm writing with you when it's ready. It's going to be a corker 😜

Person sitting at a computer and writing a lot
But wait there's more about writing this week!

This week in … Writing

Yes there's more about writing this week.

I'm working on an abstract version of this newsletter and other blog posts I write. It's going to be called 🧠 Brain STREAM-ED and it has two purposes. The first is to improve my summarising skills i.e. turning 2,000-3,000 words into a more digestible and EDited, 500 word limit. I'm hoping this skill will pay off when it comes to writing scientific abstracts. And secondly it's to give you access to a quicker, more digestible newsletter, because I appreciate you don't always have time to read my more epic newsletters!

I had a crazy idea to put it on Substack and then realised I was going to make life hard for myself by doing that at this time. So I did a U-turn after publishing the first couple, and have decided to offer it on a paid subscription tier which I launched alongside it this week. I started it super low at $2/month and $18/year. Believe me, I felt the fear when I opened up this option on Knowledge Ecology, but in inspiration of a book I have just started, "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway," I'm all in.

Are you?

It is your chance to support my creative journey and kick off my writing career in style - but only if you want to. If not, I will still appreciate you just as much as a free subscriber. I wouldn't be on newsletter number 20 if it wasn't for you!

So thank you! I hope your writing this week brings you joy,