A Writing Idea

Last night I got back from Google I/O. It’s the beginning of a month of travel. I have a good number of flights scheduled for May and June. It hit me that this would be a lot of time on a plane.12.

Vegas: 11 hours total

Bay Area: 11 hours total

Japan: 27 hours total

Seattle: 11 hours total

60 hours on a plane in a month. 1.5 weeks of work. Or one workaholic week. That’s the first time I’ve actually added it up. Geez.

Okay, so I’d like to write during some of that. Well, I did write for a portion of the different trips that are complete. Mostly in a composition notebook. I’ve started doing morning pages. Or some version of it. Though I can’t say I’ve been doing them as prescribed. It’s more just getting into longhand writing.

Headings to stay organized

Now I’m rambling. I tried something on the flight back from SFO to JFK, where I open to a blank page and write 4 headings.

Then I fill those in.


I did a few rounds of this on the flight and enjoyed it.

  • Helps get me started just writing. Somewhat easy to get to two crappy pages longhand.

  • Helps force me to stop writing about that topic and move to the next.

  • Gives me a good sense of whether there’s more to that idea that I can expand on.

By the end of the small section I know if I’m trying to cram a few more words into the final lines, there’s probably more I want to say. If I’m struggling to fill half a page, then hey maybe that’s not really going to work well to finish a post.

Then I turn to the next blank page and try to expand on whatever topic of the four I found most interesting.

That writing idea the title of this page is hinting at

One of the sessions got me thinking about what I’ll be writing about if I’m shooting for 100 days of writing. The idea would be to try and have themes for the week.

I also wrote this tagline:

I’m writing about whatever to learn what I like writing about.

I’ve had a personal blog with 1500+ posts. I’ve written some articles about design. I’ve been paid to write before, possibly in the least sexy way possible: at a technical writing internship writing material for the DB2 for z/OS introduction manual.

I want to get a better sense of what I really enjoy writing about most. I thought it’d be good to focus on themes. First I was thinking I’d focus on themes for a month at a time, but that was a little too long.

I’m going to try focusing two weeks at a time on each theme. I wrote a preliminary list of ten themes. Each theme will have 10 posts each then I’ll move on. Here’s that preliminary list:

  1. Japan: I have that Japan trip that I mentioned. I’ll approach this sort of like a travel/photography blog.

  2. Framer Tutorials: Framer has grown a lot since I was using it regularly. I’d like to learn about what’s possible with the latest version and give back to one of the best online communities I’ve experienced.

  3. New York: Again, approached like a travel/photography blog. I live here and want to get back to exploring it. New York, like any other place, is different for different people. I’d like to share what it’s been like for me the past three-isa years. And write about some memories. I regret that I didn’t write more about New York when everything was completely new to me. But I recognize that there’s no better time to start writing than now. Three years isn’t thirty years. There are still plenty of things that are new to me.

  4. Design dashes: I enjoyed writing about design sprints, but they’re better as a team activity. I’d like to just compress that process into a really small design dash. Cycles of sketching exercises to get some sense of what an idea might look like. And maybe I’ll take one of them further to a prototype as a follow-up.

  5. Learning: I’ve read a lot about learning in the past year or two. I’d like to apply that to drawing. I eventually would like to be good at drawing so I’ll write about the process.

  6. Wrestling: Somehow I’ve gotten back into following professional wrestling. I’ll explain how and write about some of my favorite childhood memories involving WCW and the WWF. Like Yokozuna on a forklift.

  7. Book notes: I have a backlog of books that I want to write about.

  8. UX career advice: I think I can share some insight here on how to go about preparing portfolios, finding the right type of role, side projects, interviewing, and other things like that.

  9. Writing: I think this post and the previous post could be lumped in here. Just general thoughts on writing. Probably will be self-indulgent and meta. I’ll try out different systems and talk about what worked for me and what didn’t.

  10. Scripts, comedy: Very tentative. Making someone laugh through words is difficult. It takes work. I’ll try to read some books on writing comedy and apply what I learn and see if I can write a joke or two. Along the lines of some of the old Grantland staff and Chase Buckley’s The Future is Near.

Japan will be first, but I don’t intend to write them in this order. And I’m sure some themes will change as I go along. It’s all an experiment so I’m sure I’ll iterate as I go along. Maybe 10 posts is too many for certain themes. Maybe a theme clearly isn’t fun to write.

As always, we’ll see.

  1. Right now the meta stuff will be footnote-ish. Just got an idea: need to figure out a workflow to upload an image quickly to my domain so that I can remove the friction from including images when writing in iA Writer. I’m not the first person with this idea. Or the thousandth. One lash for every five minutes I spend tinkering with the site instead of writing. Well I’d have 3 or 4 lashes today.

  2. Okay just had another idea, to actually use footnotes with anchor tags. That seems to work okay. I find footnotes fun to read and write. This might be a crutch and help move me toward being a lazy writer. But I think the offset is that it’s fun to write them. Another few lashes to fix the styling on footnotes and also to learn how to write them in Markdown.

Two crappy pages

From a Men’s Health interview with Kobe Bryant in 2007:

MF: Do you have any training tips, aside from Olympic lifts, that you’d recommend to younger basketball players?*

Kobe: The thing that I tell them all the time is consistency. If they watch me train, running on a track, it doesn’t look like I’m over-exerting myself. It’s a consistency with which you do it, in other words, it’s an every-day-thing. You have a program, and a schedule, and you have to abide by that, religiously. You just stick to it, and it’s the consistency that pays off.*

I’ve now found the motivation to sit in a chair and type for an hour.


I want to publish one page per day.


I’ve re-read parts of On Writing a few weeks ago. Stephen King has plenty of good advice about writing, including this succinct tip:

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.

I’ve been reading about one book per week this year. It’s not earth-shattering but it’s a good pace. What I haven’t been doing is writing.


Here are a few people who came to mind as far as inspiring me to write today, this week, and this year.

Today: On this particular day, Tim Ferris posted a podcast episode with Chase Jarvis. I also finished reading Anything You Want by Derek Sivers.

This week: I saw Robert Mion’s 100 Days of Framer, inspired by Sam Lu’s 100 Days of Swift.

I tried doing 30 prototypes in 30 days (mostly with Framer). I did about 22 days before stopping, but still learned a lot. One of the more meta things I learned is that sharing the prototypes daily meant writing about the prototypes daily. The writing itself could double the time commitment.

After seeing Robert and Sam’s prototyping projects, I was thinking of what kind of project I could try out. Then I realized that writing alone might be enough to pursue. So I’m going to try that. 100 Days of Writing. I don’t know about what. I’m not going to decide on what to write beforehand. I think I’ll settle into similar themes.

This year: Earlier this year, I read Julie Zhuo’s *Write in 2016* and decided it’d be good to try writing in 2016. I even sent out a couple posts through my newsletter to get some reps in. Then I stopped. I’m still really inspired reading Julie say that writing changed her life. So I’m going to give it another go, starting now.

I subscribe to Tobias van Schneider’s weekly mailing list and he just finished a year of newsletter issues without missing a week. He knew it wouldn’t be perfect but knew it was important to get started.

Seth Godin still posts daily. There’s value in posting consistently.


Above, I mentioned the Tim Ferris podcast. Tim and Chase talk about optimizing creative output. Chase was one Tim’s first guests, before the podcast unexpectedly became his main creative endeavor.

Early on he made it a point to take the friction out of his podcasts. He mentions a lot of people make three podcasts and then quit. And a lot of times it’s because editing becomes too big an effort. He decided his podcast would be long-form with minimal editing.

People also get overwhelmed with audio quality. Tim thought about the contexts that people listen to podcasts in. The most important things are making sure the audio is loud enough and mono. It’s usually two people talking so there’s no reason to make it harder than than it needs to be?

I’ll be posting things on franciscortez.com for now. I’ve written things on designsprints.com but it always feels odd when I post things that aren’t completely design related. I won’t make it harder than it needs to be, and I feel like there will be less friction posting things on my personal site right now.


I’ll try posting daily. Tim Ferris mentions that one of his earlier goals was to write two bad pages each day:

I was told at one point, “Your goal should be two crappy pages per day.” That’s it. If you’ve hit two crappy pages each day, even if you’ve never used them, you’ve succeeded for the day. Alleviating that performance anxiety about putting down ten pages of good material, which inevitably, I think, you’re going to fail two or three times each week, allows you to overshoot that goal. And continually succeed. And sort of build that confidence and momentum.

He references BJ Fogg’s idea of tiny habits like flossing your two front teeth. That’s usually all the momentum you need to floss the rest of your teeth.


“Wake up earlier.” — Tim Ferris

Guess which episode that’s from. Yes, I wrote this mostly as a recap of his interview with Chase Jarvis. Things got away from me a bit. They mention Khaled Hosseini, who wrote The Kite Runner while he had a full time job as a doctor. I’m being far less ambitious.

Publishing every day is pretty simple once you have WordPress or some other system set up. Simple in the sense that you can write a couple words and hit ‘Publish’. I’ll try to avoid cop-out single sentence posts saying things like “Posting to keep the streak going.”

I’ll say it now: I won’t post for 100 days straight. I have a lot of travel coming up. Including a trip to Japan. I want to be present during that. How can I take selfies, search for Yelp reviews, and look at the country through the iOS camera if I’m writing?

I’ll do my best to complete 100 posts in 100 days by writing extra posts in longer sessions.

Here’s to day 1.