Tag Archives: work

Unlock

Where is my mind and is this what writer’s block is like?

Unlock (Photo by Twan van Elk)

I posted this piece on my newsletter yesterday, even though I wasn’t sure if should put it there, or on my blog. But then I got an idea (finally) of what I wanted to do with these two – blog and newsletter – so then I moved it here anyway. Stay tuned for more updates/changes…

Okay, so this is what I wrote:

My mind is locked today. Unreachable, access unattainable, wholly out of order. Work was a struggle, my poetry was just… bleh. Work at the very least is something I can do, I know how to do. And poetry is usually something that helps me, resets me, takes my mind off of things and opens it up.

Not today though. Nothing worked, thoughts didn’t come. And I needed thoughts. Ideas to kick around, to balance on my toes, to bump off my admittedly rather large (and getting increasingly larger, until there’s nothing but) forehead, to heel skillfully into the net, until their deflated leftovers were the only proof that some work had actually been done.

So, I just took that as my starting point for this post. Genius, ain’t it? I thought so. Too bad I can’t take credit for this course of action, because so many writers before me (hah, see what I did there?) have already said that that is the way to go if one is at where I am at today. Yes. Like somebody, somewhere, once, sort of said (okay, it was Charles Bukowski and this is apparently an actual quote): “Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”

And there we are. Or, here I am (trying to not be too presumptuous). I thought I’d have a go at saying what I think about the infamous ‘writer’s block’.

I don’t believe in that whole ‘just work through it’ attitude. I mean, I had one of those days today in which nothing went the way I wanted it to go. That goes for what I wanted to do for my day job (I am working on a proposal) as well as for my writing. My brain could just not reach the things I needed, even though I got up early, was ready, had my coffee, and there weren’t any distractions in the sense that there was other stuff I needed to deal with.

Ideal circumstances, I thought. Yet I had a really hard time producing anything that could form some sound foundation on which I could go further in days to come. Don’t get me wrong, I managed to put some words in, some beginnings are there, but not nearly as many as I had hoped.

So it is not so much writer’s block, but more like a thinking block. It affects my work as well as my writing. I want to go somewhere but, yes, there is a blockage there that prevents me from seeing the road ahead, let alone seeing my end goal. I know, there are some techniques that I can use in preparation for the actual work, but that is the point: I didn’t start yet with what what I needed to do, not really. And I don’t want to just put in words, that to me is not writing. It has to be purposeful, intentional and going somewhere.

In the end, I mean, right now, I feel I did accomplish something today after all. I found that little hook I needed to draw in some writing on. And that was what this was about for me anyway. Great. Tomorrow has to go swimmingly after a day like this. Right?

Some stuff I read today when I couldn’t get my brain jump-started.

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Back To It

“I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room.”

― Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely

Yup.

Bought some books in Maastricht last week, to keep me going for a while. (Seriously, if you ever come to the Netherlands, visit bookstore Dominicanen. It is situated in this amazing old church building. In the meantime, you can check out the 3D-tour.)

Book haul: Shaun Bythell – Diary of a Bookseller, Pablo Neruda – Selected poems, Sylvia Plath – Poems (chosen by Carol Ann Duffy)

Randomness

That which cannot remain silent

Hold the line:

You can find more stuff I listened to on my Music Profile at Last.fm.

Rethinking my life

And in other news…

Fugazi live in Hamburg in 1999
If you have an hour and about 40 minutes to spare and like American post-hardcore, maybe check out this concert. I saw them live a few years before, in Doornroosje (Sleeping Beauty) in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. What I remember: great energy, lots of old-school punks from Germany driving crappy vans full of graffiti coming to Nijmegen to see them.

Queens of the Stone Age live | Rockpalast | 2013
I think Rockpalast has the best concert registrations ever. From the seventies right up the present day.

Why you should definitely read the story collection by Izumi Suzuki, the Japanese SF legend
‘Kay, added to my list.

The IT crowd – Truest moment about tech support
Love me some IT Crowd.

Mind your own business

Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson were reflecting on their company Basecamp. As always they tried to bring it back to its core, treating Basecamp, the company, as a product. They came up with 6 things that needed to change in their eyes:

  1. No more heated discussions about sociological or political issues on the company account, that account should solely be about the work they’re doing at Basecamp;
  2. No more meddling with personal lives by pushing certain benefits, like fitness or education. What employees do —or not do— on their own time is their own business, not the company’s.
  3. Put the decision making back in the hands of the people who were hired for that. So no more committees, working groups, bureaucracy. Back to individual responsibility.
  4. No more indecisiveness or lingering. Explain it once, and then move on.
  5. No more 360 reviews, or ‘peer feedback’ for employee performance reviews. Yeah, ’nuff said.
  6. Be super aware of what it is you do, as a company. Usually that isn’t getting into social issues or getting behind certain movements. Just be responsible for what you are there for as a company.

I don’t know about you, but this so resonates with me, I just love it. Bring it back to the basics, to what is about: the work. And do not be nostalgic about perceived or assumed togetherness or camaraderie at work, just because you are being together in the same building, behind a desk from nine to five or in lots of back-to-back meetings.

That said, I am really curious where my own work and/or work in the Netherlands in general will go. Right now it is all still about digital and working remotely and all is great, as far as I am concerned.

But I fear that as soon as people start thinking there is any room (e.g. because of vaccination or infection numbers going down in some other way), there is a big chance all the steps taken could be thrown out of the window again, and we’d be back at the old ways of doing things in no time. That would be such a shame.

Let’s see what happens.

About: Changes at Basecamp

Work Enpassantly

My grandmother used to use this expression ‘enpassantigheid werken’. ‘Enpassantigheid’ is not a real word. It is a Dutch corruption of the French ‘en passant’ or ‘in passing’. ‘Werken’ means ‘work’. So roughly translated: ‘work enpassantly’. 

She used it when you were going to do something and she thought you could do another thing as well while you were on your way anyway. I have never heard anyone else than her saying this, so whether she heard it somewhere or came up with it herself, I don’t know. (I like to think that it was her who came up with this.)

I had to think of this when I was boiling some water for tea, last night. While I was waiting for the water to start boiling, I unloaded and loaded the dishwasher. I’m getting more and more in the habit of doing things like that. Instead of mindlessly scrolling on my phone to pass the time (which isn’t that much fun for me anyway, since I have no social media accounts anymore), I opt for doing something productive in the meantime.

It helps in the sense that it helps my brain with an opportunity to drift when I do something physical, I get a feeling of accomplishment from dealing with a chore, and at the same time our household benefits from less clutter – and with that, less anxiety and more peace of mind when our eyes wander around the house in passing.