I like writing

I write every day. I type a lot, of course – sometimes up to 5000 words a day, even not counting emails. But I write too. Longhand. In a journal. Three pages every day, first thing in the morning.

It usually takes me about 20 minutes. Writing whatever comes into my head in all its jumbled, nonsensical and disordered glory clears away all of the crap that’s accumulated in my brain overnight, gets it out of my system and lets me start fresh.

My friend Trevor used to call it my morning ‘mental poo’. Which is kind of horrible – but entirely accurate. I prefer that metaphor about the guy who cuts down trees for a living, figuring out that he needs to take a little time each day to sharpen his saw. That’s what my morning pages routine is all about.


I like reading

I read an awful lot. You’d expect that to be the case. I am a professor, and reading is part of the job description. I read a lot, and I read quickly. 500 words per minute is comfortable. I can manage 700 on a good day.

But here’s the thing – I’m not the sort of person who reads a lot of novels. I read some – and more than I have for the past decade (especially since I bought the Kindle) – but not as many as most of my friends.

I like novels, and I sort of half-wish that I would read more of them – but most of the time, there are other things I’d rather be reading. A novel has to really grab me for me to spend time with it – and that happens so rarely. Like – once or twice a year.

I’m a bit of a non-fiction junkie. But more than that, I’m an essay junkie. I like reading essays. For pleasure. To me, the art of writing and storytelling – that art of portraying something about the world and conveying it with skill, emotion and in a way that points to something larger about the universe – that’s at its concentrated best in the essay form.

And it just so happens that I’ve recently stumbled upon the best way to read essays. It involves, as you might expect, technology.


I like taking photographs

Today’s reflection on ‘stuff I like to do’ is about photography.

Like going record shopping, taking photos has sort of become my ‘thing’. Unlike going record shopping, this is a fairly recent development, and I had a pretty steep learning curve.

I took a beginners’ course a while back, which gave me a good start. It helped me with a core understanding of the mechanics of the camera, a basic sense of how light works, a bit of insight into concepts of composition, which way around to hold the thing and so on.

Since then, it’s become one of my favourite things to do. I’ve been on a couple of organised photo walks, but actually, I hardly go anywhere without a camera – and in fact, I’ve started going places because I have a camera.


I like buying records

If you’ve just joined us, I’m reflecting on a bunch of things I like to do. This post here explains why.

Today: record shopping. I like buying records.

The important thing to notice is that I didn’t say that I like listening to records, collecting records or owning records – although those are, of course, things that I very much enjoy. If I really think about it, the activity that seems to give me the most satisfaction is the process of acquisition. The time spent browsing, rummaging and discovering second hand vinyl – and usually cheap stuff.

I guess that’s largely because I’m always immersed in music, and the records I buy simply get absorbed into that mix and take the aggregate experience in new and interesting directions. I certainly wouldn’t be short of stuff to listen to if I didn’t go record shopping – but I do really love going record shopping.

It’s relaxing and exciting at the same time – simultaneously meditative and engaging. Like I imagine knitting would be if there were spot prizes.