I’m experimenting with a writing journal. Maybe if I have a decided place to put these thoughts on writing, I won’t litter the rest of my posts with them. Also, I’d like for the other posts to be somewhat evergreen, with these being open to content or commentary on the week’s events. Let’s see how this goes.
Sunday — July 3: I started putting a spreadsheet together to track posts to mark statuses and things to do.
Monday — July 4: My friends did our big BBQ thing yesterday so I had a lot of time to write. Instead I spent it tinkering. I spent way too much time with the Hazel app trying to automate things. I’m happy with the result—I can add images to posts pretty quickly now.
I also had plans to start posting these things publicly (vs. just having them in a local Jekyll installation) around post #75. So that I wasn’t feeling satisfied just talking about a goal. But I realized that if things aren’t public, I never get them to a completely finished state. It seemed like half my posts had one link or image missing that I intended to fill in later. And it just adds up.
Tuesday — July 5: I’m starting to accept that this project—100 Posts in 100 Days (or OPIOD for short, or OPOD for shorter1)—will mostly be about writing. A lot of the material written about writing habits frame it for novelists. Since I’m not writing a novel, I guess my mind wandered until it had something to focus. And that seems to be writing about writing. Lately it seems like everything’s been framed in terms of how it applies to writing.
- I just found a backup of my old daily writing app in Evernote2. I will definitely be writing about this. 54 pages of my thoughts from February to June in 2014. I built a small web app to learn Angular and used Firebase as a back-end. I’m embarrassed to say how many results searching for “I will work at Google” brings up. Two years later I was involved in launching Firebase 2.0 at Google I/O.
- Just saw that underlines get converted to <ems> which isn’t great because all the links get italicized. Gonna go with a CSS fix for now. I might regret it later.
Wednesday — July 6: Yesterday, I wrote at Bryant Park and the New York Public Library (the main reading room was closed, likely due to ghosts). I finished up *book notes for *Save the Cat. I also opened up a new file and started outlining. This morning I’m sifting through that pile of garbage to see what I’ve got.
My math is wrong. I realized this today. I’ve had mid-August in mind. I forgot I started this project and then went pretty much two weeks without writing. So it’s more like 100 posts in 86-ish days.
I have 47 days until I hit 100 days, and I still have about 65 posts left. I’m going to keep the original August 23 goal and push. For the next 17 days, I’ll do two posts each day to catch up.
I think I can step up the book notes. I already read them, and that’s the time consuming part. Maybe I can make screencasts to show some things. Or start doing photo posts. Anything that lets me create posts quickly while having some value.
It’s time to double down on systems and structure. If that creates formulaic writing, maybe it’s fine for now. I’ll have to set up posts. That’s where book notes and the Four Link Fridays can come in handy. Maybe I can think of a third template.
I have an idea. This journal was going to be part of the Four Link Fridays. But it’s getting longer than expected. And the previous Friday Link posts (issue 01, issue 02, issue 03) are already some of the longest posts I have. This journal will be its own post. I’ll think about making it a weekly thing.
Thursday — July 7: This schedule spreadsheet is actually working pretty well in helping me focus on one thing.
Green means it’s done, blue means it’s done but I need to push the changes, pink means it’s today (aka focus on writing this one), yellow means it’s done but I need to do non-writing things, and red means I need to write and edit.
I have an Ideas sheet where I add post ideas, but I also use Google Keep and random Google Docs. I should probably start thinking of a system for this.
Friday — July 7: The links post took longer to write than expected. Through the week, I collected links in a combination of pinboard.in and Google Keep. But putting the post together still took longer than I planned. Also, writing about interesting links means re-reading the content and that takes longer sometimes.
In Keep, I was adding a bunch of links about one topic in a single note3 and I’d open all the links then browse through them. Ten minutes gone, easy. In the future I’ll try creating the excerpt there with enough context to write my thoughts without jumping around to different sites.
Saturday — July 8: I tried writing with UFC 200 in the background. Pro tip: don’t do this. It makes watching not as fun and writing not as productive at all. So I stopped writing and enjoyed the last few fights. I haven’t felt that invested in a fight event since Mayweather/Pacquiao. I knew I liked wrestling but I didn’t know I cared about Brock Lesnar that much.
Sunday — July 9: I’ve mentioned that I use Focus@Will for different sounds for focusing and lately have been using Spotify to play ambient and classical music along with some white noise. This week some of that showed up in Discover Weekly. Not ideal.
A friend and I have a shared playlist called “edm novices” to try and share what we think kids are listening to these days. It’s probably way off. But I’m listening to it right now and it seems to be good for workign without ruining my Discover Weekly.
Right now I’m at La Colombe. We have good iced coffee at work but I can’t make a drink as good as this and I should take the time to learn. I can probably get 80% of the way there.
This week I got away from outlining and giving myself structure before sitting down to fill things in. I’m trying to learn a couple things that can sort of be separated: improving as a writer and posting regularly.
I’ve been listening to the audiobook version of Grit by Angela Duckworth. I just finished a chapter focused on deliberate practice. It was a good reminder that regular feedback is an important element of effective practice.
Improving as a writer: I’ll need feedback on drafts and finished things. First, I’ll need a body of work for people to read. Then some people better at writing than I am. (Narrowing things down 0%.) The harder part is getting them to read my writing and be willing to give feedback. I’ll cross this bridge when I get to it. In the meantime, I’ll just keep trying to find out what pens people wrote with.
Posting regularly: Now here’s something quantitative that I can measure from my cabin in the woods/Dunkin Donuts. I can track how long it takes to write each post. And I can find where I’m distracted or wasting time.
This 100 Posts, 100 Days project will help me improve on the process and being consistent. Establishing that is a good step toward improving as a writer in a “gotta get the reps in” sense. Eventually I can combine quality and quantity and end the day by pulling my dentures out and sitting down to a chamomile tea.
Meanwhile, I’ll just keep working through that spreadsheet a few scrolls up.