Tis the writing season

Usually around this time I spend more days actively thinking and writing. As a boring person I write predominately about ideas for the future, conclusions from the past, experience to repeat, how others should conduct their lives… The boring stuff. Since this is rather cyclical my guess is that it’s mainly because nights are coming early and they bring quietness, bring focus. Coming of the holidays and the new year is also a trigger for reminiscence and planning.

This year there won’t be any holiday planning thanks to the newest startup unicorn that shook disrupted all domains, i.e. the Covid19. There is, however, planning related to the ongoing project le Grand Plan. A quick reminder, as if I wasn’t ostentatious enough about it, I left the job market in order to learn more and potentially contribute to the humanity be that through another company or some research. Everything is going great so far and I really enjoy the self-time. Plans made before leaving are still solid and things are going accordingly. The problem, however, is that assumptions for these plans are falling apart. I no longer “believe” and I’m losing “faith” in their righteousness. (Yes, spiritual references are intentional.) The place where I would see myself in 50 years has shifted. Or, slightly more precisely, the goal is not as rewarding as I thought it would be. Thus the planning.

This is not the note where I share my plans, though I’ve written a lot about my views on the future and might share them in coming months. This note is generally about writing. I used to hate, dislike, avoid, complain, do anything but. Now it’s one of the most important tools in thinking. Since I’m easily distracted, to cope and to be “productive” I needed to find my way of working. Some time ago I shared a template for the project initiation. I still stand by it as being short it allows to initiate projects quickly, keep honest health checks every some often and allows to terminate things that don’t work out. Having projects instead of a thought and crave make things a bit more difficult to give up. Writing out helps. It’s a constantly moving checkpoint. It allows to branch out in thoughts to anywhere and then on dead-end you can clearly see where you were. (Given that I’m currently knees deep in the reinforcement learning I cannot not notice closeness to the Monte Carlo Tree Search‘s Expansion step.) Without scribbling one might forget how they got there and be not able to get back on the original thought. It takes time to learn that the path (narrative) matters more than the exact words or pretty connections. Well, it depends on the purpose, but coming up with great words takes mental effort and that’s taken away from processes that guide in the journey.

One (another?) highlight for future reference is the importance of structure in some planning notes. Since I have many notes in many places sometimes not all of them will be read often. I’ve just found some that I haven’t seen in about 10 years time. Obviously, me in the past wasn’t dumb for thinking such things but they knew little about the world, and if they only knew what I know right now… or, did they know more because they were focused on it, and I just forgot that thing exists? What I want to put in my notes now is a bit more focus on the context. Right now I think that explicitly writing out assumptions, hypothesis, expected results and details of the execution would make learning from the past much easier. It should also make it easier not to tremble in fear after discovering that our ground has been removed weeks ago and we hadn’t fallen because the faith in ground is uplifting. Then the question is whether to safely go down and start building from new foundation, or realise that we’re flying and shoot for the moon?