I was looking through some awesome coffee photography recently and saw this image. It pretty accurately describes the state of the site lately. I'm using a lot of technology, drinking a ton of coffee and not writing about any of it. Until that changes, check out some of my own coffee photography on the techandcoffee Instagram account.
Update: I failed. I literally only met the goal 2 or 3 days out of the 30. I would say I feel defeated, but it has been a busy time in many respects. I'll think about a more reasonable goal at a more reasonable time.
For the month of September, I have decided to take on a challenge. The goal of the challenge is to build a more consistent writing habit. Daily success is measured by 500 words written. I've wanted to build a better writing habit for years. Posting more content here has always been a big motivation, but obviously not enough to push me to write more regularly. My hope is that by doing something every day for 30 days, I will form the habit.
- I'll have no desire to write after a few days
- I won't have anything worth writing about after a few days
- The structure will make my writing more robotic
- I won't be writing because I enjoy it
- After this month, content will be posted to the site regularly like magic
- I will form good writing habits
- My writing will continually improve throughout the month
- Site readership will increase due to more regular posts
Most of my writing will likely take place on my phone or my iPad. I would love to sit here, lie and say that I will set aside time to sit in front of my iMac and crank out post after amazing post like Stephen J. Cannell at the end of an episode of Hunter. While the desktop computer in my makeshift home office is great, it isn't where most of these words will be created. This post is being written on my iPad. This is actually the second time I have written this post. I wrote it to the tune of 542 words last night and then proceeded to accidentally delete it with a poor default action step in the Drafts app.
I want this exercise to also filter my toolset. I want my writing workflow to improve along the way. I want to know what apps aid my writing and which ones should be deleted because they add nothing to the process. I want to find the groove in the technology I have at my disposal so that future efforts aren't over complicated by the plethora of cool apps or devices I have built up around me. I can see why an app that is available on all the platforms I use that also syncs the data from one instance to the next would be an obvious choice. I can also appreciate using the best of the best apps on each platform and letting sync be carried out by Dropbox or some other external syncing or file storage service. Needless to say, I'll keep readers informed along the journey.
I should clarify that the goal is to write 500 words each day. It is not to post to this site daily. It is also not to make sure all posts during the challenge are a minimum of 500 words. Some of the words I count towards my daily goal will never see the light of day on any website. Some will be components of larger efforts. What I have decided is that only words created outside of my day-to-day "real job" will be included towards the goal. I have never counted how many words a day I generate answering and creating emails, writing code or having conversations through instant message/IRC. Counting those towards this effort would simply be pointless. It wouldn't develop any new or good habits.
Consider the starter pistol trigger pulled. This is day two and I'm happier with this version of the post than the one I wrote and accidentally deleted yesterday. Seems like progress to me.
Stress comes in many forms for just about everyone. There is the stress of being a good spouse. The stress of being a good parent. The stress to consistently perform at work. The list goes on. The words that you're reading right now are a form of stress. The difference is that they represent the "write" kind of stress in my life.
Many days go by without a post appearing on this site. Very seldom is this due to a lack of ideas on things to write about. I have a growing directory of half-written posts. Some will never get finished because they were relevant at a point in time, but are irrelevant at the time I get back to them. One such example is my partially written post that highlighted my favorite "tech" items of 2012. Publishing a post like that at the end of February 2013 would make me look like a procrastinator (not a complete misrepresentation). Some of the posts are timeless in nature and could be completed and published at any point in the future. What troubles me most, which is just a way of saying what stresses me most, is that there are many more posts in the partial state than in the published state.
My hope is that by identifying the various forms of stress in one's life, it provides the opportunity to turn negative stress into positive stress. Positive stress is often referenced by the much more positive term motivation or inspiration. I want to use my stress from how many hours I put in at work as a driver to write about things I discover that make me more efficient in the work that I do. I want to use my stress from striving to be a good father as the inspiration to share things my children have taught me. While it stresses me out to think that eighteen days have passed since my previous post, publishing this one will provide the needed motivation to continue transforming negative stress into the "write" kind of stress.
Joel Gascoigne, writing about writing on his blog:
What I?ve realized is that there is no better time to write than when the thought first enters your mind. I should only write it at another time if I simply can?t open my laptop and write it all the way through right at that moment. The content is freshest when it first appears in my mind, and in that state I write the best posts.
I couldn't agree with Joel on this point more, and need to turn it into my own writing mantra.
Twitter helps me around this issue with a strict character limit. Tumblr creates an environment where visual expression is emphasized and text boxes are very small. Constraints often breed creativity because they force you to improvise — to think differently. But self-restraint is just as important. And harnessed correctly, it can yield far greater results.
I often think of Twitter and Tumblr this same way, however, I rarely edit my own posts with any form of brevity in mind. Great short read from MG Siegler.