May 082007

When I first started this blog, I did so because I genuinely loved the writing. I’d leave my apartment every day, look around, and think to myself “Jesus, I live in Japan! I wonder what kind of crazy adventure awaits me today?” I’d explore my surroundings while always thinking about how I could possibly put my experiences into words later that evening. It was a hobby in the true sense of the word: something I looked forwards to doing, and did out of pure enjoyment.

But lately writing has grown to be more and more of a task than a pleasure, something I strive to eliminate from my “To-Do” list rather than look forwards to starting after the list is already empty. I now write because I feel like I should – both for my personal records, which I know I’ll appreciate further down the line, and to keep my friends and family posted on my whereabouts. Perhaps this shift is apparent to the readers as well, indicated by how the tens of thousands of monthly visits have dwindled little by little to barely two thousand.

I can think of three possible reasons for this change. First is due to a lack of time. Although I’ve always worked hard to keep myself busy and challenged, this is the first time I’ve ever had absolutely no control over my own personal schedule. I’ve worked full-time jobs, part-time jobs, enrolled in university schedules well over the maximum unit limit, and committed myself to periods of no less than 10 study-hours a day. Yet I’ve always been able to arrange my time in a way that I knew would produce the best results with the most efficiency. Until now. And without that ability, fitting in hobbies that require mental concentration becomes quite a challenge – especially when trying to fit in several at a time (studying Japanese, writing a blog, programming projects, daily workouts…)

Second is quality. When I first started this site I would just sit down and crank out whatever thoughts entered my head, more like a personal journal than a public blog. But as the hit count started rising I began to obsess more and more over quality – proofreading repeatedly, post-processing my photos and choosing just the right ones, etc. I don’t claim to be a good writer by any means, but if thousands of people I’ve never met are getting to know me from this website alone, of course I want to make the best impression possible, right?

And third is timing. I used to love writing because I’d come home still hyped from an event or experience and write about it with the passion fresh in my mind. But lately I fall so far behind that by the time I get to writing about a trip, the initial shock and wonder has faded and it becomes a simple race to catch up.

So what’s the solution? Not to stop writing, of course! But since there’s nothing I can really do about the first problem, I think I need to focus on the other two. I need to put my time more into writing and less into correcting every little grammar mistake. I need to stop worrying about having big, “proper” posts and just crank out my thoughts as they occur to me. And now that I have the Photo of the Day section, perhaps it’s alright to release more articles without first populating them with photos – a process that nearly doubles the length of time required to prepare each.

Can I really force myself out of my obsessive tendency to proofread? Let’s find out 🙂

  8 Responses to “A Task”

  1. I think you should just write without thinking. Write shorter entries more often. Don’t worry about too much background of filler. Just write what’s interesting to you. Because that’s all I want to read, honestly.

    I went through this too… once the novelty of Japan wore off for me, I lost a sense of what might be interesting to other people, and lost the pleasure in sharing it with them. Now I let my photos speak for themselves, pretty much, because I enjoy taking them and don’t enjoy writing about them so much.

    Before, writing was a learning process for me too – I would think more clearly about ideas that had been floating around in my head, and often look up details like the histories of places I visited in order to write about them accuratly. But eventually I started experiencing diminishing returns. I suppose that’s only natural.

    I can no longer write about Japan as a Japan beginner, and that makes it hard for me to write for people who have never lived here. Now I tend to prefer discussing things with other people who live here and speak the language. Am I being selfish? Perhaps….

    Anyway, I don’t mean to write you a novella here. The real reason I decided to comment was to ask you if you could please set your RSS to show entire posts, instead of cutting them off and making me click to visit the actual site. Kind of defeats the purpose of an RSS feed if you ask me.

  2. The Internet is no place for proofreading, Justin. NO PLACE AT ALL.

  3. Write shorter entries. Not that your writing is bad, just that more frequent shorter postings keep peoples interest more. Posting more pictures which include girls might help too. Most guys who are interested in coming to Japan are often interested in Japanese girls more than say the history of Hiroshima.

    Although, as a long timer in Japan I’m more interested in how your atitude to Japan is changing over time. And if you find yourself getting into a career rut as many of us do here.

  4. Alana: Ah, I see ur point (about the RSS). I personally use feeds just as notifiers, to tell me when a friend has posted, then I always go to the site to read their original content in all its formatted glory. That was my thinking when I set my feeds to only send the title anyway. If I’m gonna go back to full posts, though, I need to modify WordPress to send the stylesheet along with the content so the zoom-photos don’t get all messed up and prompt people to double-visit every post (the problem mentioned in my comment on the RSS entry). I’ll get to it when I have a bit of time… 🙂

    Tex: Yes, my attitude towards Japan has changed quite a bit as a result of various experiences that I was never exposed to while here as a student. That’s sort of what I was alluding to when I mentioned once or twice that there’ve been “things on my mind”…But at the moment I still feel like it’s best not to get into too much detail 😛

  5. I feel your pain. Granted, I was never was much one for proofreading my blog posts too much because I have only written (originally) for friends, and then later family, but as of late it does seem blogging is something that I should do, rather than something I want to do. However, I say give it a go. If it turns out you don’t like the shorter, more spontaneous posts, the only thing you have lost (or gained really) is a few kb in your database.

  6. Don’t proofread so much! When obsession gets in the way of production then you know you’ve gone too far.

  7. Some of the sentiment of this post resembles the final posting made on the Japanmanship blog.


    At least this post of yours isn’t the final one!

  8. James: Yeah, I think it’ll probably end up being a bit of both. Even if I do keep going with the longer posts I think cutting down on the in-post photos in exchange for POTD will lighten the burden of writing quite a bit. We’ll see how it turns out.

    Nick: You know me, always obsessing a little too much over getting things just right… 😳

    Matt: Finally, your first comment! 😛 Although I know very little about living in other foreign countries it seems like Japan tends to have a pretty predictable effect on many of its foreign residents: first they fall head-over-hells in love with it, then after a few years they start to get irritated by its seeming lack of logic and turn to complaining about it. I never read much of Japanmanship’s blog but from that last post I’m thinking he may have experienced a bit of the same. In any case, my blog is still on for now – although I can’t imagine how that guy managed to do a post every other day for a full 9 months! Yeesh! 😛

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