This is part of The Blogging Gauntlet of May 2016, where I try to write 500 words every day. See the May 1st post for full details.
When it’s 10:20 PM, I have to write a 500 word post, and I have no idea what’s I’m going to write about, you know I’m going to dredge the bottom of the self-reference barrel.
So, I have 100 minutes to write a post. By itself, this wouldn’t be the trickiest task. Some of the posts on previous days were written in less time than that. However, on those days I knew I would be time-crunched, and deliberately thought about a topic I wanted to write about. That let me plan out an outline in advance. When you know what you want to say, it’s surprisingly easy to say it.
Today, I didn’t think of a topic ahead of time, and here we are. Let’s see if my lightly edited stream of consciousness is remotely coherent.
First off, I could always just give up. It’s $20 if I don’t write a post. Twenty dollars isn’t that much for me, which I’m sure says something about my socioeconomic status. But here I am, writing out words.
So, let’s assume I’m acting rationally, or at least acting in a way that could be interpreted as the actions of a rational person. Then, we immediately prove some interesting things about myself. For instance, I value 100 minutes of my time at more than $20.
That assumes I get nothing out of writing blog posts, or rising to meet one of my self-imposed challenges. I get a really big sense of accomplishment when I finish something, and that feeling is definitely worth more than $20 to me. In retrospect, the feeling of accomplishment is worth a LOT more than that - it might be my primary motivator. It was one of the biggest things that made deciding not to go to grad school so difficult. Should probably keep a closer eye on that part of myself.
Now, on the other hand…I have a final tomorrow. I have not studied for this final as much as I should have. Evidently, I value writing blog posts and going on road trips to LA more than studying for finals. Which I guess makes sense. Writing tons of garbage and doing random things in LA is so much more interesting than reading my scribbled notes from weeks long past. I can justify not studying by saying “I’m a second semester senior”, “I’m taking this class pass-no pass”, and from your perspective you might be wondering why I feel guilty at all. But I do. It’s probably tied to that feeling of accomplishment. The feeling I get when I fail to do something simply because I didn’t put in enough time is terrible. For me, there isn’t some line in the sand marking things I want to do and things I should do but don’t want to. It’s one big gradient of priorities and procrastination. Envisioning achievement motivates working towards that achievement, even if the path required to get there isn’t worth it in the end.
you’ll never give up, even if there’s, uh… absolutely NO benefit to persevering whatsoever. if i can make that clear. no matter what, you’ll just keep going. not out of any desire for good or evil… but just because you think you can. and because you “can”… … you “have to”
(Naming the source would be a spoiler.)
Hey, will you look at that. I hit 500 words! Cool. Nice. See you all next time.
(Also, I think I’ll be fine for the final. If I’m not, well, life is one big tapestry. In any piece of work that big, it’s expected that patches of it will be baby barf green.)