Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.

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Blogger’s block?

AKA Trying to come up with witty titles is what got me into this mess

Last night I found myself at the Wayback Machine looking up something or other, and got suddenly curious to see how much of my own site had been archived. Quite a bit of it, it seems.

I clicked on the page with the earliest date, and immediately jumped back almost six years to meet my 22-year-old self. There I was, graduating from college, already wistful about my undergraduate days, and unsure about how to get where I wanted to go. But boy, did I ever have a lot to say.

I must have been blogging daily back then, maybe more. I was so un-self-conscious about it, too. I just blogged what I was thinking, I didn’t give much consideration to what went before or what was to come after, and it was all the better for it. So the question immediately came to mind: Why don’t I write like that anymore?

I could give a whole list of excuses to answer that question, but the truth is that I really don’t know. Somewhere along the way I must have got the notion that I couldn’t just blog about random stuff, that everything had to have a point. But that put the pressure on, and pressure does not equal fun. And when something’s no longer fun, why do it?

So the gaps between entries grew wider and wider, while the self-imposed pressure to turn out finely-crafted pieces led to inevitable procrastination. Soon enough, the windows of opportunity flew past. And there’s no point in writing about something that happened months ago, even when I did occasionally have the motivation to try, so why bother? I was full of good intentions, but they’re worthless without acting on them; I’ve got a text file full of abandoned drafts and half-formed thoughts to prove it.

I said two years ago that blogging is ‘just what I do’. But I haven’t been doing it. Quite the opposite: I’ve had blogger’s block.

However, looking back at my younger blogging self has made me realise what I’ve been wasting. No, I tell a lie: I’ve known what I’ve been wasting for a long time now. I’ve just been too embarrassed to admit it.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, to hell with all the pretensions that hindered me from doing what I used to do so easily. This place was at its best when I wasn’t trying to be perfect. I’m glad I’ve admitted that now.

Updated 5 Dec 2009: In hindsight, I feel a bit silly about what I wrote here before. Not so much the part about not striving for perfection, but the idea that going back to the ‘old days’ of near daily blogging was the answer.

After all, that was then and this is now. Times change. And besides, as Emmet wrote a couple of years ago on his own excellent blog, there’s much to be said for “the idea of posting infrequently as a deliberate editorial approach”.

That’s an idea that’s resonating with me more and more. But of course, adopting such a policy won’t solve my procrastination problem. ‘Slow’ and ‘stagnant’ are very different things — some effort on my part will be required.

Highlights of a year (or so)

Nine years ago on this very date, I took my first steps into the world of personal publishing by starting my own website, a horrible mess of black and orange (well it was 1999) which eventually morphed into what you see before you today. Nine years! Jesus. That’s a long time. And what do I have to show for it?

Well not a lot, going by the lack of activity here (unless you count my Twitter updates). But I’ll have you know that my real life has been far more eventful.