One of the reasons I moved to Colorado was a need for change. I had fallen into a rut where despite my best intentions I was consistently leaning on old patterns of behavior that had not served me well.
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My plan, if you can call it that, was to live life without a plan. Removing myself from my comfort zone and placing myself in the unknown forced me to find new patterns of behavior to respond to the world.
In shaking up everything I knew I’d force myself to see new possibilities that I hadn’t been allowing myself to see.
At the end of last week’s post I mentioned making some changes in an effort to make another start at evolving the way I blog. While the changes aren’t as drastic as completely uprooting myself and moving near 2,000 miles away from everyone and everything I know, they’re already helping to shake up old routines.
One thing I’ve begun or begun again is maintaining a journal. Back in the days before the internet I often pulled out a pen and notebook and wrote. I’m doing it again, though I’m now typing into text editors.
It’s a small change, but one that usually impacts my writing. It’s a safe place to collect any thought and get it out of my head clearing the way for new thoughts to enter. It also helps bring more spontaneity to my writing.
In the past I never looked back at anything I’d written in a journal. I saw it more as an exercise to practice writing and especially to lose myself in the flow of writing. It’s serving that purpose again, though this time around and with the magic of search, I hope to be able to pull things directly from my journal at times to either post here or shape into something worth posting.
New Tools For A New Train Of Thought
For a few months now I haven’t been happy with what I’ve been publishing or the approach I’ve been taking to publish. There have certainly been some good posts here, but the whole process has felt forced to me.
I’ve known I could take most any idea, plug it into my process and come out the other side with something I could post. It’s helped to keep me productive, but it hasn’t always kept me inspired.
When I feel a lack of inspiration for what I’m doing I have a tendency to desire a change of some kind. I’m not looking to uproot my entire life again, but I thought I could uproot my workflow with a few new tools.
For the last couple of years my writing process has mainly taken me through two applications, each with its own purpose.
- MacJournal — for collecting ideas, taking notes and writing drafts
- MarsEdit — for editing and polishing the drafts in preparation for publishing
They’ve worked well for me, but over time using them has begun to feel more chore than inspiration. That’s not to imply either is a bad app for writing or publishing. Both are great apps, but using them so often in the same way has made them feel stale to me.
It’s a case of doing the same thing the same way over and over again. To remove that stale feeling I purchased some new editors over the last few months.
- Scrivener — which I’m using to work on an ebook
- iA Writer — which sat idly until I recently started keeping a journal again
- Ulysses III — which I recently purchased and what I’m writing in now
Each of the above is quite different from what I’m used to. It’s that forcing myself out of old habits in order to see new ways of doing the same thing.
All offer some level of distraction free writing, which is something I never thought I’d care for, but I’m now finding more useful than expected.
All can also be used with Markdown, another something I never thought I’d care for. However hearing so much praise for it from people who’s writing I enjoy, I thought why not give it a try.
The latter two apps have one additional advantage in they have beautiful interfaces. I’m a sucker for beautiful things and both apps call to me when I’m not using them. Who said aesthetics aren’t important?
I’m sharing all this with you not because I think you need to run out and buy these specific apps or even care what apps I use for writing. I’m sharing because I’m sure you’ve found yourself in a similar rut where you feel a lack of inspiration in your work and the tried and true has become stale.
If and when you encounter those times think about making some changes. Find some way to leave your comfort zone to force yourself into something new. It can be scary giving up the safe and known, but it’s that safe and known that’s leaving you uninspired. Focus instead on the possibility for something better that can come with change.
This isn’t all about writing for me. The opportunity to change editors happened to be in front of me and I grabbed the opportunity. There are many more things I’d like to change, each of which will take me further from my zone of comfort.
- version control
- better use of css preprocessors
Just as it will take me some time to completely change my writing workflow, it’ll take some time to incorporate the above.
I know it will be worthwhile though. Forcing myself out of my comfort zone and forcing myself to learn new ways of doing will inevitably help me to see the same old in different ways. I’ll find new patterns to combine with old ones and as a result grow to be something more than I am.
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