Writing is hard
February 19, 2023•329 words
It turns out that writing is harder than I thought. The idea of writer’s block is never something that I’ve accepted. Perhaps it is because almost all of my writing is technical or scientific in nature. I’ve never stared at a blank piece of paper unable to write — you just start writing. Maybe it helps that, by the time that I come to write something, I have almost always completed the creative aspects of the work. For a mathematician, creativity happens when thinking about a new problem and developing a new solution for it. Typically, formulating and solving new problems can take several months or years. However, I rarely just stare at a problem waiting for a solution to pop into my head — I try something (which almost certainly will not work) and keep trying different somethings until I start making progress, slowly refining the method until it’s a good as it can be.
My view is that the first draft of anything — be it writing, a proof, a solution, a recipe — will almost certainly be complete garbage. Nothing is created perfect. Indeed, “perfection” in this context does not exist. I repeatedly drill my students that a paper/thesis/solution is either perfect or finished, but never both. This doesn’t mean that I encourage a slap-dash approach to mathematics or writing, only that I acknowledge that everything can be improved in some way and, whilst striving for perfection is not necessarily a bad thing, expecting to achieve perfection is sheer folly.
That said, this #100Days writing challenge has made me appreciate just how difficult is it to write, creatively, on a regular basis. I suppose that this is one of the points of the challenge. However, my ramblings today have given me an idea for tomorrow’s topic.
Day ten of one hundred.
This post is part of my #100Days writing challenge, in which I have challenged myself to write for 10-20 minutes for 100 consecutive days.