This week, I thought I got it sorted. I had two blog ideas that would lead to legendary posts.

I was going to talk about how I dyed my hair green (to go to a charity ball dressed as a Lemming, as in the classic computer game); and therefore had green hair for a day. The grand idea was to share how few people dared to comment about it, even though some clearly were surprised: someone later said, when overhearing the story behind the green hair: “Yeah, I did think it was a bit odd, but didn’t want to say anything.” The whole point of the post was to expose how we do the same with odd behaviours around us, and refuse to actually say anything about it.

But as I tried to write it down, I realised that what I thought was a great illustration actually wasn’t great. It wasn’t quite as easy to articulate what I wanted to say as I thought: there were too many caveats, too many pitfalls where I realised whatever I would say could be mistaken for something completely different. I was expecting people to quote Luke 6:42 back to me; and was entering argument mode – which is something I’ve tried to avoid.

My second blog idea was even less formed – it was going to be roughly around the end of term for undergrads here at Warwick, differences of perceptions in time scales, etc. It still looks like a fruitful source, but is too big and, from many angles, too abstract.

And now, there’s two hours to the end of the weekend and nothing I had half-arsedly “planned” is looking like it’s going to lead to a blog post. These two ideas, I have to let go of. Pruning my work is something I’ve always found difficult. The thing is – if they have made it so far, it is because I believed in their potential: I was tricked by the illusion of awesomeness, and slacked by resting on it.

Two illusions

These illusions are dangerous, and hard to avoid. Similarly, though, there are illusions of difficulty. When I started this blog, I thought I’d never manage to blog weekly; and yet, six months on, I still am here. When I started writing a paper on my research, I started off thinking it would be easy and that what I had found was awesome enough to speak for itself. Then I hit a brick wall, and I thought I’d never manage to finish writing that paper. After cutting a whole chunk off it, though, it flowed more naturally; and it is now submitted.

Everything can seem easier than it is; and everything can look unsurmountable. But what is common to these illusions, is that they will remain until the task is tackled.

How do you make sure you recognise these illusions?

I recommend reading page 88 of Silence and Honey Cakes (and actually, the whole chapter) on this particular point.