Forever Distracted

Almost ten years have passed since I created a little project called Noteworthy. This project had the sole purpose of allowing me to write blog posts from Evernote while disconnected from the Internet. I could be sitting on a train, using my 3rd-generation iPod Touch, listening to music and hammering out a blog post about something that was on my mind while travelling between classrooms. A good amount has changed since the project started, but a lot has stayed the same, too. I want to write. I want to publish. I want to share my words with the world in a vain attempt to broadcast my existence to a world that really couldn't care less. 10Centuries is currently at the tail end of its 5th major software version and the six is being developed to address a number of performance and interface issues that have plagued my platforms seemingly forever. However, as I write the code that will bring the 6th version of this software to life, I wonder if I'm doing this to intentionally distract myself from writing; the very activity I set out to encourage with the creation of a personal platform.

My high school art teacher, Mrs. Deluca, often said that I was a "high-achieving procrastinator". Rather than invest the time in the various projects and assignments I should have been doing, I would put my energy into any number of alternative endeavors and show off the fruits of that labor at the expense of my grades. There was no denying that the things I would create on my own were often more interesting than the portraits, paintings, or figurines that were expected by the teacher — which she herself would often admit — but they were arguably not the objectives that would bring the most value. As a result, my grades would often be in the mid-to-high 70s rather than the 80s or 90s that could have been possible if I were to apply myself to the tasks at hand. The same is seen today with the projects I do at work and in my spare time. Again, there is no denying that I could create useful things if I were to sit down and focus on what was needed rather than whatever happened to be in my head, but the incentives just aren't there.

Why in the world would I want to create various things at the day job if they're going to spy on potential customers or waste my colleagues' time? Why would I build a couple of things for 10Centuries if there is little chance of standing out against solid competitors like Tumblr and WordPress?1 The problem that I face is not so much a lack of enthusiasm for development or problem-solving, but a lack of enthusiasm for the day-to-day grind; the final 10% of every project that turns something from a hobby into a work of art that people can appreciate and benefit from.

Writing is something I've wanted to do for well over a decade, yet I invest my time in the tools that are supposed to aid in writing. Seeing 10C and its myriad offerings succeed is something that I would genuinely like to see happen so that I can focus more on the platform and less on the day job, yet the last 10% of effort always seems reserved for a "later" that never comes. Mrs. Deluca was correct with her description as my GitHub statistics and efforts on AskUbuntu would clearly show that I am investing my time into things that are not contributing to the very things I set out to do.

Is this just part of being creative while lacking discipline? Or is this something else?

There is no denying that there are a lot of things that I'd like to do with my time, but I do wonder why it is that I can produce so much while accomplishing so little.

  1. I understand these two are the same company now, but that's beside the point.