Sunday Journal Issue 06: Entering the final turn

I used the full utility belt this week. I wrote some posts long form, I did some voice dictation, I wrote with my Chromebook, I wrote at my desk, I wrote on the bus with my phone, I wrote notes about audio books, right now it’s about Kindle books, and I’ve been reading a hard copy book.

In some ways I’m shocked that I’ve gotten this far. I took the time to read a few older posts. They’re not worthless. there’s something there. and as a collective thing, I’m pretty happy with it how things are coming together. I’ve started thinking about what to do after I reach 100 posts. Like considering whether it’d be too show off-y to get a special hook for my apartment to hang the incoming Pulitzer Prize.

Navigation is top of mind. I doubt anyone is going to read the posts from beginning to end. They’re more likely to have interest in certain types of posts. I can see someone liking a book notes posts and trying to find all the books I’ve written notes up for. And then there are journal-type posts like this one. I can have something on writing, something on Fitness, something on meditation, etc. I can put some reading packs together. If you didn’t close this tab in disgust, you might like these other 5 posts.

It crossed my mind that I can try to code this in Jekyll. I have the insight to also see the black hole of tinkering that could turn into. There are WordPress plugins that automate this, and it wouldn’t be too hard to convert the entire thing to WordPress. Hey, another black hole. If I’m thinking MVP, I can just make more posts explaining the different hand-curated1 collections.

We’ll see when I actually sit down and see what I want to do for this.

Very late thursday night (Friday morning): I wrote a post with my voice, can you tell which one it is? Dictation could be a good way to do the initial brain vomit. You can get to two crappy pages awfully fast by speaking into your phone.

I wonder what the quality difference is for these two scenarios:

  • 15 minutes to dictate a very very sloppy first draft, 30 minutes of editing

  • 30 minutes to write a somewhat sloppy first draft, 15 minutes of editing

There would be a quantity difference as well—though that’s already into quality. If the quantity is higher through dictating but the amount of fluff is higher as well then that’s no good.

Actual Friday morning: Instead of writing, I just spent probably an hour messing with my monitor again. And it’s frustrating wasting time on these things that don’t really matter all that much. I just wanted to write this morning and instead I was messing around with resolutions, then an hour was long gone.

I have 21 posts left. I have 13 days left. This weekend will be important for banging out a few extra posts to make up the difference. There are some and drafts late so I’ll be able to work on those and I feel good about completing them. It be nice if I could get it down to one post per day in the final week so that my final we can really just follow the original schedule. So do that I will need to get to 10 posts with 10 days left. So I’ll have to do 11 posts in the next 3 days. When will the trains crash into each other?

I have an idea how I can get that done. I have enough ideas for topics. I have a large backlog of Kindle highlights. One of the lengthier parts of writing a book notes post is reading the book in the first place.


10-ish AM: I I’m in the coffee place in probably looks like I’m talking to myself. But I’m writing. I am dictating at least. I had an iced coffee with almond milk. Actually this microphone is not picking up when I want to say so I’m going to work on my Chromebook

I’ve got a free day, it’s way too hot out, so I’m going to do some major catching up to do some major catching up today. My goal is to get to 10 posts left in 10 days. This morning I’ll be editing some drafts. I’ll finish these posts then take a break to run.

1:30 PM: I made good progress. I finished editing these posts:

In the afternoon, I’m hoping to start and finish a few more posts. They’re going to be journal posts:

  • Sunday journal: what you’re reading right now

  • Meditation: impressions after finishing the first series in Headspace

  • Running: finishing the first 6 sessions of Couch to 5K and why it’s been awesome and terrible (working title)

If I have anything left in the tank I’ll do a little more sprinting on the front page:

  • Crazy 8s: I want to think even further about what I can do on the front page to display the 100 posts when they’re complete

  • Prototyping: I want to explore things and do a screen recording session with either Sketch or Google Slides

5:00 PM: Instead of working on any of that, I wrote a post on a few passages I highlighted in Infinite Jest. Enjoyed writing it, mostly because I enjoyed going through all those highlights again.

Bought some clams and boquerones. Going to eat these then finish up the journal posts. (Oh, and start them.)

11:00 PM: Okay I started writing the Couch to 5K journal about running. After stopping for a few other important things, I got back to editing the post and finished it. Check it out. One of those things was stopping to watch most important running event there is: 100m at the Olympics.

It was looking a little bleak around halfway through. Wasn’t sure how things would look at the finish line. However, I’m back on track: 10 posts, 10 days. I didn’t finish the meditation journal or either of the exercises for the front page design, but at least I know what’s next in the queue.

Current total of all the posts is about 63,000 words.

  1. In the way those wacky museums of useless things still must have some kind of curator.

Sunday Journal Issue 03

In last week’s Sunday journal, I wrote longer on Sunday because I didn’t write every day. This week, I wrote most days and remembered to write thoughts down here on some of those days.

I think it’d be good to track my reading somewhere, and I might actually start doing that in the Friday link posts. But here’s an update on my current reading.

  • Currently reading: The Umbrella Man and Other Stories, Originals, Comedy Writing for Late-Night TV

  • Finished last week: The Last Girlfriend on Earth, Grit (audiobook), You are a Writer (audiobook), Do you Talk Funny? (audiobook)

  • In limbo (paused reading but still plan to finish): The 4-Hour Chef, Snow Crash, Star Wars: Dark Force Rising

I’m trying to follow the advice of reading non-fiction in the morning and fiction before bed. Since I’ve been writing on the bus in the morning lately, I haven’t been reading nearly as much as I had been earlier this year.

Tuesday — July 19: Planned to write a second post about Grit. I just didn’t finish it.

Wednesday — July 20: Finally added pictures to one of the last Japan trip posts sitting in a to-do state: going to the New Japan Pro Wrestling show.

Thursday — July 21: Wrote a quick post about Muji notebooks. It’s a shorter post with a few images. It was a rare post that I finished pretty much in one sitting. Didn’t jump in and out of the post. Didn’t mark TKs to finish adding images at a later time. There isn’t much text at all. This is where I wish I had some way currently to quantify whether a post is good or bad.

I mostly just said that I like the notebook but you can’t buy them in America. I think it’ll be valuable for reference in future posts where I’ll share sketches from these notebooks. Instead of explaining what kind of notebook I used each time, I can just link to that post.

Friday — July 22: I’m realizing I’ve been doing most of my writing at home or on the bus this week. It’s made me really look forward to the bus commute. I almost always have a seat. If I remember to set things up when on my laptop, then writing on my phone is kind of pleasant.

If I don’t have some kind of outline ready, then I use the time to type out excerpts from podcasts and audiobooks.

The bus is good because there’s just about nothing else to do. Commute time (25-35 minutes) is just the right amount for focusing.

Saturday — July 23:

I wrote three separate posts for Grit:

With separate posts, I could focus on one concept from the book and try to hone it down to a page. Collectively, I think this is better than a single post with say, five concepts. Both for reading and writing.

With multiple posts, I can go a little deeper on each topic and use multiple excerpts about the same concept. I always feel rushed trying to write a book notes post with multiple excerpts if I’m trying to finish it in an hour or two.

Sunday — July 24:

Two weeks ago, I was trying to post 2-3 times each day to make up for missed days. I wanted to keep up the 2-post pace to completely catch up on missed posts. Instead, I burned out a little and I missed a few days of writing last week.

This week, I focused on one post each day and it’s been pleasant. I look forward to writing in the morning. My system is solid enough that I don’t feel the urge to tinker. It was a major distraction early on. I can keep this pace.

To hit 100 posts by August 23 (marking 100 days), I’ll need to do 11 days with 2 posts. And I’ve got 31 days left. So that’s about every third day. I’ll schedule 2-post days on days when I know I’ll have the time for it instead of trying to force them into already-busy days.

Four weeks left. Not quite the final leg but if this were a mile run I’d be starting the final lap. Here we go.

Sunday Journal Issue 02

In last week’s Sunday journal, I wrote a little bit each day about that day’s writing. This week, I didn’t write every day and forgot to start the journal for the week at all.

I made a few CSS changes, but I’m holding off on any major design changes until around post #75. I’d like to build a categorized index.

Saturday — July 16: I finished some posts and uploaded them. I back-posted to fill in some missing days. That might be cheating in some way, but nobody’s keeping track and I never really laid out solid rules for myself.

Here: My goal is to finish 100 posts in 100 days. Most post dates are accurate, some are approximate, and some are completely off but I want to fill those days in because it helps me keep track of things.

These sandwiches were very good.

I listened to Simon Rich on James Altucher’s podcast. James summarizes the appearance in one of his posts:

Simon Rich, one of the funniest writers I have ever read, the youngest writer of SNL ever, and now working on two movies and a sitcom, said to me, “if you don’t wake up and want to write first thing, you probably shouldn’t be writing.”

In the course of our discussion he must’ve referred to 50 different books and comedians and movies, etc.

In the podcast episode, Simon says his favorite writer is Roald Dahl, for both his children’s books and his short stories. I didn’t know Roald Dahl wrote short stories. I bought one of the Dahl collections—The Umbrella Man and Other Stories. I also picked up Simon Rich’s The Last Girlfriend on Earth: And Other Love Stories.

Sunday — July 17: This morning I read one story from each of the books. In the podcast, James says he rarely laughs out loud when reading but it happened often when reading Simon’s stories. He’s right, I laughed a lot while reading Unprotected.

This is story of my life inside wallet.

Go read the entire thing on The New Yorker. I’d love to write something that made people laugh as much as I laughed reading it. Which I understand is years and thousands and thousands of words away. First, I’ll continue writing anything at all.

From the Dahl collection, I read The Great Automatic Grammatizator. It’s about a machine that writes stories.

“There are many other little refinements too, Mr. Bohlen. You’ll see them all when you study the plans carefully. For example, there’s a trick that nearly every writer uses, of inserting at least one long, obscure word into each story. This makes the reader think that the man is very wise and clever. So I have the machine do the same thing. There’ll be a whole stack of long words stored away just for this purpose.”

I’ll use this trick illusion whenever I want to seem sagacious and exterous.

These days, you can learn more about machines that write stories on, you know, websites for companies that make machines that write stories.

Planning next week

It’s still early in the day, so I’m going to go on with my day. Tonight, I’ll try to finish a couple of posts from the Japan trip.

I’ll also plan the coming week’s writing out and I’ll try outlining what I can. And preparing posts in Google Docs so I can go in and write. I’m still struggling with starting and finishing a single post without jumping around to other posts, looking things up, or whatever else. It’s not making me a better writer, but it’s probably making me better at posting consistently.