I'm not sure how long I've been staring. It must have been just a moment or two, yet it felt I had been staring for minutes. The slow change of the colour from white to light amber brought me out of my reverie.

I glanced at the clock to confirm that dusk had fallen. I did not need to look out of the window for validation.

With a start, I stare back again at the screen. And it stares right back at me and its annoyance at me. A single pulsing vertical line blinks at me, and it felt to me that it was pulsing a bit more aggressively, or was it my heart that seemed to be beating in time with that cursor?

With a roll of my wrists followed by a cracking of my knuckles, I set my palm on the keyboard and my fingers assume their starting positions on the keyboard, like sprinters in an Olympic final settling into their blocks.

I give myself a short pep talk, "Let's get this started."

And then I freeze... All those words that were roiling through my mind boiled away, all those strings of thoughts that sprung up shrank into nothingness, and emptiness settled in.

I'm not sure how long I've been staring at it for. It must have been just a moment or two...

Seth Godin's smallest viable audience seems like an interesting idea to adopt.

Most often, we want our work to reach a wider audience. So we tend to cover all our bases when creating stuff.

When we define the smallest viable audience for our work, we can become better at producing something useful and something the audience can connect to. Being very specific allows us to create with the knowledge that there is someone that our work is tailored to. Think of it as creating bespoke content.

Applied to writing, we can choose who we want to write for. It could be someone you know or don't know. It could even be a note to your selves (future, present, or past).

So who is your smallest viable audience?

Addendum: I always had an audience taxonomy available on this site for a few years. Though I haven't explicitly made it visible to readers, it has always been there. You can see an example here: bibliophiles for.

The Lost Art of Doing Nothing
Don’t you think it’s time for a break? Plagued—as we are!—by nonstop pings and notifications, we have lost the knack of zoning out. Kicking back. Slacking off. Even when pandemic-induced lockdowns forcibly cleared our calendars, many who thought I’m free! filled their days with Netflix and doomscrolling. How can we reclaim our free time (planned or not) to truly rest and reset?
Cover of The Lost Art of Doing Nothing

When you find yourself feeling stressed; when you perceive that everyone around you are in a state of false sense of busyness and that causes you stress; when you find yourself in a state of ennui (or when you fear being bored); when you need a bulwark against the constant barrage of things that pull at your attention, there is an opportunity of applying a bit of niksen in your life.

Niksen is a Dutch word for to do nothing. It is having nothing to do and not finding something new to do. It is the absence of any other activity.

In recent years, the Scandinavians have inundated the world with their lifestyle trends, including the quest for lykke (happiness), hygge (coziness), and lagom (literally “just the right amount,” meaning being content with what you have). This is all wonderful, of course, but it has little to do with doing nothing. Remember: Niksen serves no purpose whatsoever.

What niksen advocates is to relax and lose yourself in doing nothing, absolutely nothing at all. Take a chill pill, in short. 🙂

Applying niksen in everyday life helps us be creative by forcing the brain to switch to the default mode network and find connections. The simple mindfulness exercise of focusing on your breath promotes calmness for a while. That oasis of calm is sometimes what we need to get up and carry on with our daily life.

I loved the illustrations by Lona Aalders. I picked up this book because of the cover. 🙂

The Lost Art of Doing Nothing: How the Dutch Unwind with Niksen by Maartje Willems, Lona Aalders (Illustrator). Translated from the Dutch by Laura Vroomen. Published in March 2021 by The Experiment.