On this journal

by Jochem Kossen


On writing

I like writing. I often feel the need to write. Yet I don’t write regularly. At least until now. Somehow I feel like I’m only just now in a position to get the words out in a manner that suits me.

I have at least a few excuses for not writing. This part of the poem Pursuit by Stephen Dobyns resonated with me:

“Each thing I do, I rush through so I can do something else. In such a way do the days pass — a blend of stock car racing and the never ending building of a gothic cathedral. Through the windows of my speeding car I see all that I love falling away: books unread, jokes untold, landscapes unvisited…”

(from Goodreads)

Part of me not writing is not taking the time to sit down and type.

I came across Pursuit while reading Stephen King’s Insomnia. I know, it’s a cliché. Everyone is complaining about not having enough time, we all know this already. Still it seems so true. Pursuit was published in Dobyn’s book Cemetery Nights which was published in 1987. So 33 years ago people had the same thoughts as we do now. Which made me think the concept of not having enough time might be timeless itself. Which would mean it’s something people have had to deal with for a long time.

~ 2200 years ago, Stoic philosopher Seneca wrote:

It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.

From Seneca on the shortness of life

Apparently I’m just wasting too much time.

Writing is important

I think writing is important for a few reasons. One is that I can only broadly recall what I did let’s say 7 years ago. I’m curious what and how I thought back then. I want to be able to recall what I did in more detail.

Writing lasts

Aside from recalling I want to create things that last. In my career I have written a lot of software. Often that software was replaced within just a few years because of new client requirements or situations. I suspect that’s where my desire for creating things which last longer comes from.

Remember Seneca? That was 2200 years ago. Apparently writing lasts.

Writing is thinking

In my lifespan I’ve tried more than a few website projects. But somehow the writing part never stuck. It’s probably a mindset thing. Thinking of “blogging” does not work for me. So I needed to think about writing in a different way.

Besides writing, I like thinking as well. I do think a lot. I think a lot more than I write. Somewhere online I read “writing is thinking”. I think that’s at least partly true. Thinking for me is the process of the mind discussing (the Inner discourse) certain subjects or data and storing the outcome. Until there is a conclusion the inner discussion will not stop. I do wonder if that works the same for everyone.

Writing helps bringing structure to the data from the inner discourse. It transforms data into information. Information helps bringing an end to the inner discussions.

Writing helps tame the inner discourse.

Memory capacity and forgetting

While I think a lot, I also feel that I forget more than I would like.

The thinking process itself uses a certain capacity of certain parts of the brain. Does thinking too much cause my mind to forget? It’s interesting to read about the Forgetting Curve. Forgetting is apparently also necessary to live your life

Elsewhere it’s suggested our minds have an extremely large capacity for storing information.

The Forgetting Curve suggests we “forget” when retrieval processes for that information fail. Which suggests to me we do not lose the information itself, but just the way to access it.

Writing helps me with at least three things:

  1. While writing I’m using a retrieval process
  2. If I at some point in the future read what I have written, it helps me remembering. I’m then again using a retrieval process
  3. Even if I forget something I can re-record it into my brain if the information was written down.

Of course I cannot write down everything going on inside my brain. But some information is better than none, and a lot of information is even better.

If we indeed lose ways to retrieve information instead of the information itself, to forget less I need to:

  1. create more solid tracks/roads/trails leading to the information
  2. find a way to create new tracks/roads/trails leading to unreachable information

I suspect writing and the accompanying research and investigating will help me with both.

Back to the journal

So, here I am attempting to start yet another new journal. My other attempts were terrible, but perhaps they served as learning experience.

So what am I planning to do differently this time?

Looking at this list it indeed seems to be all about mindset. Interesting times ahead.

And there you have it. A complete … thing of text. Is it a post? Is it a letter? Is it a note? For me it’s a set of thoughts written down with more structure than what’s going on inside my head.