The Path Forward

I started this blog as an escape. I had a job that I liked but didn’t love. But there were a lot of reasons to stay. The pay was pretty good. My team was amazing to work with. While there were travel demands, I was able to work remotely most of the time. The problem was that I was feeling bored and creatively constrained. I had the freedom to serve up creative ideas and work on interesting projects, but I often felt like the corporate machinery would take so many bites out of them along the way that they either died or no longer resembled what I had originally envisioned.

So Modern Stationer was born as a small place where I could always do things my way. For a while, it really helped. Then, it started to hurt a little. Once I got a taste of doing things my way – and of the joys of engaging with the amazing pen and paper community – I was hooked. I wanted to do it all the time. I daydreamed about making it more than a hobby.

There are many talented and driven people out there who have made similar daydreams reality. It's a difficult, multi-year process, but there is clearly a renaissance happening with analog writing tools that is creating opportunities for people with creative ideas and a willingness to work hard.

Putting aside the question of whether I actually have what it takes to pull something like that off, the big question for me was whether "living the daydream" would truly bring me happiness. I wasn't sure that it would. While I've fallen hard for analog writing, I still really love technology. I've been doing it for 20 years, and I would miss being a part of whatever is next. And just as I came to the realization that it was my job – not technology as a whole – that I needed to walk away from, the ongoing chase for the next pen, ink, or paper to play with and review on the blog began to wear on me.

I still loved using pens and paper as much as ever, but the constant shuffling around of tools and workflows was stressing me out rather than bringing me enjoyment. It was undermining the calm and clarity of thinking that brought me back to pens and paper in the first place.

So, back in May, I shifted gears. I picked one pen and one type of notebook and set out to find a new job at a smaller technology company where I would have more freedom to do things my way. I continued to tweak my task management, notetaking, and journaling workflows along the way. This was a pretty terrible idea during an insanely busy period of keeping my existing job afloat, juggling a job search, and being present for my family. But I felt like my system buckled under the increased demands, and I was thrashing around to get things back on track.

It also made writing here hard. I wasn't trying new pens, inks, and paper, and I felt like I had exactly zero good insights to share about paper-based workflows.

I'm coming out the other side now. I start my new job on Monday. Only time will tell if it was the right move, but I'm really excited and optimistic. I also feel like I am about 80 percent of the way to a functioning workflow system.

So what does all of this mean for this blog? I'm not really sure. Kicking ass at my new job is really important to me right now, but I've missed writing here too. I'm going to start showing up again, but I'm not going to put pressure on myself to achieve a specific post frequency or schedule. I'm not going to chase new products to review (yet). I'm not going to worry about building an audience or brand. I'm not going to check traffic stats. I'm going to write when I have something say and take pictures when I see something fun or interesting. That's the simple plan for now.

It's nice to be back.

Doug Lane @douglane