“Success is not guaranteed”: writing as exploration

Unpredictable outcomes

Years of formal education have drummed into us the idea of essay as formula, a rigid structure to follow. That structure may have helped to organise your thinking, but essay-writing also sparks less positive memories: of set titles that fail to inspire, non-negotiable deadlines, struggles to meet a particular word count. 

Go back to the original meaning of the term, though – from the French essayer, ‘to try’ – and the essay becomes a whole lot more interesting. 

I was reminded of this in a recent Vox podcast about the work of Albert Camus, which also explores why he chose the essay form. 

“An essai is a trial, it’s an attempt. And… success is not guaranteed,” says Robert Zaretsky, a philosopher and historian, interviewed on the podcast.

Continue reading ““Success is not guaranteed”: writing as exploration”

Blogger’s guilt

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Everyone loves a list

If it’s easy to start blogging these days, it’s even easier to stop. Or at least to pause.

So many reasons: not enough time (I’ll do it when that deadline is over); other priorities (I need to focus my attention/writing brain on something else right now); perfectionism (there’s no point in posting something mediocre); lack of fresh ideas (there’s nothing exciting me to write at the moment); unconvinced of the payback (it won’t make any difference if I wait a bit longer). Continue reading “Blogger’s guilt”