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What’s My Motivation? (Or, Does the World Really Need Another Blogger?)

Yesterday, I read an essay by Paul Graham, “Good and Bad Procrastination.” Among other things, Graham summarizes Richard Hamming’s “You and Your Research” thusly:

  1. What are the most important problems in your field?
  2. Are you working on one of them?
  3. Why not?

I like the third question, because it assumes an answer to the second. I like even more the fact that that assumption is probably correct.

I work in the entertainment business, where we don’t have “problems” in the same sense the physicists or mathematicians do. We have “projects”– TV shows, movies, music videos, and so forth.

The criteria for “most important” varies wildly from one individual to the next. (I consider Battlestar Galactica to be much more important than Sex and the City. My wife disagrees.) Still, everyone has that list of projects they’d like to work on, even if those projects exist only in their heads.

What does all this have to do with blogging? Surely, tossing my thoughts out onto the series of tubes is not a good answer to number 1?

No, it’s not.

What it is is a way for me to change my answer to number 2. I’m an aspiring writer (not an amateur writer), and like many writers, I have difficulty with choosing good procrastination over bad. So, is blogging good procrastination?

No, it’s not.

But it’s less bad procrastination. It is less bad than falling into the rabbit whole that is TVTropes.org, clicking random article on Wikipedia, or simply refreshing my Facebook page?

Oh, hell yes, it is.

I may not be writing the next great American screenplay, but at least I’m practicing expressing myself in written form. It’s a step in the right direction. Or, at least, a step in a less wrong direction.

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