I’ve not written a structured post in a while

(I’ve also not written a concise title in ages)

See those categories there, on your right and just down a bit? There are quite a few too many of them (but streamlining 600 posts into neater categories is a terrifying task) and several are things like ‘Pro Tips!’ or ‘Pickup Lines!’, and include posts that not only fit those descriptions, but are written in rather rigid formats. And while I liked writing these earlier, I’m simply not interested in churning out structured posts any more; so, because I love irony, here’s a needlessly structured post about why I’m not writing structured posts any more.

1) I’m a writer, not a list-filler

This is a bit of a pretentious one – suggesting that rigid posts are in some way beneath the attention of the marvellous James Patrick Casey – but I think it’s very valid. Not only do I do a hell of a lot more prose-writing than list-making (by my count it’s six journalistic projects versus zero shopping lists left on post-it notes), but I have an image of myself as a writer above all else. Whether it’s conscious or otherwise, when I’m casting around for ideas for a post, my mind drifts to life updates I can ramble off the back of, or observations that may or may not occasionally be halfway-intelligent.

2) Structured posts have become oppressive, rather than creative

Back in the day, when I was a poorer writer, structured posts helped me be creative in the same way that making stuff within the confines of iambic pentameter, or the 140 characters of a Tweet, does. But as time wore on, and I became able to shape ideas and arguments without bold-faced subheadings literally saying ‘THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT NOW’, the idea of coming up with five points, each prefaced with a heading and no longer than two paragraphs, became a series of arbitrary conditions and restrictions, rather than anything to help focus my writing. Basically, instead of keeping me upright, the training wheels just made it harder to ride where I wanted to.

3) Structured posts are finite

This piggy-backs of the last point a bit, and is the idea that there are only so many kinds of exclamation mark-suffixed categories I can use to be entertaining or informative. If I want to write pickup lines, I’ll fall back into a Pickup Lines post for sure, but if I want to speculate on sexuality in video games more broadly, blank prose is the go-to style. If I were to create a different narrative and formatting style for each of these relatively minor variations in form, I’d end up with 600 posts spread into 550 categories, and the very idea of categorisation would become pointless.

4) I can manage my own time

Broadly speaking, I split all of my posts, both those published and those in my head, into two categories: daily, and non-daily. The former are responses to current events, either on a personal or international scale, and so can only be written and properly read within a certain time frame; the latter are broader pieces that can basically be churned out at any time with equal relevance. When I was in Sixth Form, and I’d spend my free periods writing blog posts on Word documents to be uploaded later, I banged out a load of non-daily posts, as I used my little free time to stockpile posts for the inevitable lack of writing time on weekends or evenings. Structured posts are overwhelmingly more likely to be non-daily posts, and so I wrote structured posts as a product of living on a timetable imposed from without (i.e. school) when I couldn’t make time to write daily (and so more fluid) posts. Now that I’m essentially in control of my own timetable, and have been for about fifteen months, I have more time to write off-the cuff posts about daily events, and I’m under far less pressure to build up a supply of posts in advance because I’ll be unfairly busy at some point in the future.

5) I have things to say

It’s no secret that the last twelve months of my life have been the best twelve months of my life, as a combination of sudden personal freedom, lovely people and doing things I enjoy on a daily basis have impacted me. While my demeanour and interests are broadly unchanged, some older friends have commented on me being much happier this last year, and much more willing to engage with things. As a result, I’m far more willing to form opinions about topics, then publicise those opinions on here; I’ve written about the NHS and the General Election for frak’s sake; and I’m not any more optimistic or less pissed off about those things, I’m just seeing complexity as a challenge to tackle, rather than a fuzzy obstacle to slink away from.

And whether I reach solutions, or anyone cares, isn’t the point. This blog reflects how my life is going, often in ways I don’t even intend for it to, and a I’ve become a more complex, thoughtful individual, so have these posts.

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