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The Lab: Issue № 1

Laying the foundation for a three-month newsletter focused on distilling interesting thoughts

I’ve toyed a long while on the idea of writing a newsletter, examining the world around me and attempting to solidify the turbulent river of my thoughts. I was finally convinced to do so by one of Craig Mod’s essays, which also features in his newsletter Roden. Framing the creation of a newsletter as primarily seeking to build a writing and publishing habit—as opposed to a relentless push for more subscribers—was a crucial distinction that convinced me to take the first steps necessary.

The Lab will be written as a ‘timeboxed’ newsletter with a strict 500-word limit; published weekly for a duration of three months, after which point I’ll reflect on the usefulness of this so-called ‘season’ of writing and adjust course as necessary. I can’t be certain about what each issue will contain, only that each will be a distillation of what I have been thinking about over the course of that week; hopefully in a way that both interests and informs, but at minimum gives an insight into the perspective of another.

Despite a modest word limit and publishing schedule, I find myself tentative to commit to such a project; it feels much more difficult to communicate my ideas to others than it does to myself, likely because my personal journal represents what would be considered by others to be merely disconnected fragments of thought, as opposed to meaningful narratives woven together. An idealistic goal, certainly, but one I plan on pursuing in this newsletter.

A feeling which comes up in starting a project like this is that I must justify what qualifies me to write, what makes my thoughts worthy of publishing. My blog has aimed to combat this egoistic view of this idea: reading the work of another is a voluntary choice, and a writer only accrues such readership if their words provide value in some form for others. Even ignoring the aspect of an audience entirely, writing is immensely valuable for its inextricable link to thinking—improvement in writing means and improvement in thinking, which leads to writing with increased clarity. It is a self-perpetuating cycle which is to many, including myself, of paramount importance in integrating meaning within one’s life.

This newsletter will also serve as yet another reminder of my life which I may look back on in the future. Meaning, for me, is that which is remembered. Quite often in my life I have felt, in the moment, as though my thoughts were of the utmost importance only to find I had no idea what I’d spent the past day, week, or month of my life really thinking about. How could it be? Nothing was written down and this endless series of thoughts was forever lost, or at least irreparably obscured by time. So, here’s to the beginning of a series of well-intentioned yet likely haphazard posts which attempt to convey what is meaningful to me over the course of the next three months.