Struggling to Write
Sep 30, 2022 • Matt • ~ 4 minute read • 804 words
I haven’t written a post in 9 months.
It’s not that I don’t have things to say - here’s what I have on my “things to write about” scratchpad:
- ACM (see #106), which includes
- a play-by-play
- thoughts on student organizations, growth, and institutional memory
- running dev teams, again
- work culture and the conflation of expectation and accomodation
- open-source (and specifically in student orgs)
- academic politics
- diversity and inclusion work in clubs - and the harm of oversaying and not doing
- why I really dislike “it’s just a club”
- UCLA-specific tea …
- reflections on my time as an undergrad
- on the double-major
- stress and various opportunity costs with classes
- issues with the economics major
- taking more fun math classes
- on the makerspace, inclusivity, and the initial skill hump
- on people, network effects, and luck surfaces
- on my biggest regret: not doing research
- on the double-major
- an in-depth reflection on UCLA CS - classes, clubs, research, culture, professors, everything
- various “people posts” (which may become a personal project instead) - basically me gushing about my friends
- something on how maintaining just-the-docs has been (stressful, to say the least)
- other on conciseness posts:
- on being artificially approachable and scary
- on listening to music and algorithms
- on open-source, as a student
- on dominating conversations
- on reading fiction as a vehicle for learning
- redoing my “on allyship” post, since I now dislike it
- diving into various life updates - I never wrote posts for AWS/Adobe/Meta, I can now talk about CZI, and NeurIPS is coming up!
And many, many more things that I haven’t really materialized yet.
I think the problems are rather:
- There’s too much I want to write about.
- I tend to write one long post instead of several short ones - partially because this is how I think and talk.
- But, that makes writing super daunting, and it means I’ll probably never finish a comprehensive ACM recap - it’d just be too long!
- It’s been harder to find motivation.
- Life has been … really hard, and the idea of challenging myself by writing critically is not as appealing as I’d like it’d to be.
- That being said, there are times where I really enjoy writing, and I owe it to myself to finish these posts.
- It’s not just writing - I’ve been losing motivation on other things too :/
An actionable for me is to write shorter, self-contained posts. They’re less daunting and more motivating to rank out.
My hope is that I get some posts out soon - but if this week has been any indication of what grad school will be like, I doubt I’ll get anything out until winter break.
Here’s to hoping!
Part of the reason that I’m writing this post is to let you know that I haven’t forgotten this blog.
I’ve never written the blog for other people - at the beginning, the expectation was that nobody would read it, and it’d be okay for me to ramble. In the past year, it’s been clear that’s not the case - I’ve been fortunate enough to receive some very sweet emails from people about how this has positively impacted their life.
In some ways, that is motivating. I feel like I do have more to say - particularly in major mistakes that I made in student leadership, that I don’t want others to repeat. But, it also ups the ante - I need to write more concisely, create more digestible content, and above all, be right - if not, it does affect others!
I think there’s also something uniquely good about receiving positive cold emails from strangers. At UCLA, I’ve been plagued with insecurity on why people compliment me - it’s always felt like they do it because they need something from me. Usually that’s not true (though it sometimes is!), but I can’t shake that feeling.
With cold emails, it feels … less like this? Even though, in practice, cold emails are usually the opposite - usually they do want something from you! I’m not really sure how to explain this - it’s more of a long-winded way of saying that I like receiving cold emails.
I’m sure you can see that this post is all over the place. I’m curious if I should change my writing style. In the past, posts take me almost a month to write - they’re so long, require research and heavy editing, and are a slog to proofread.
In contrast, this is a stream-of-consciousness, write-and-forget style post. It’s not refined - I’m betting I’ll be embarassed by this post in a year - but it also feels more spontaneous and exciting.
Anyways, thanks for reading this rant. Until next time!