Working out that writing plan

Right now I’m working to figure out what is next on my writing plan. Obviously, the future content for the Substack is well planned out. My backlog goes out to post 104 and I’m currently publishing week 58 this Friday. For the most part that gives me a pretty solid cut and what will be included in the first two years of The Lindahl Letter. Eventually that will get put into a manuscript and published. It will be an expansion of the year one publication that is already out in the wild. Getting into the habit of producing machine learning or artificial intelligence related content every week was easy enough. Figuring out a solid list of academic papers to work on each week has been a little harder. Several false starts and sketches of papers exist, but none of that has really translated into the production of conference or journal papers. Throughout the rest of 2022 that is where I’m going to put a lot of my energy.

That list of 104 topics gets stored here for posterity:
https://www.nelslindahl.com/the-lindahl-letter/

A snow day and some writing considerations

Everything on the publishing front seems to be moving along. My big plan to pull my backlog forward in 2022 has been working so far. I can confirm that the first few editing and revision projects were much easier than the current one. I’m working on something that falls into the nonfiction camp of efforts, but it needs a lot more editing than I expected. Publishing an eBook is a lot easier than trying to complete the proof acceptance process. Having something printed and reviewing how the ink ended up looking on charts, graphics, and overall for readability is a much harder process. Everything in the eBook just looks the way it was uploaded. The only thing I have noticed over the years is that sometimes the artwork for the cover gets downgraded in quality as it is passed around from the point of origin to all the distribution points. Generally the rest of the eBook just stays the way it was and probably always will be from the point of creation forward. 

Today happens to be a rare snow day in Broomfield, Colorado. We got about 5 inches of snow overnight and things outside are still surprisingly silent as daybreak is about to happen here in a  few minutes. At some point the trucks with plows will sprint through the neighborhood streets and things will get moving again. The snow is not above the bumper of my SUV, but a regular size car would have a harder time navigating the streets until the plows are able to clear paths. For the most part in a snowstorm that is a key milestone for drivers that want to get around. If the snow becomes taller than the bumper of the car, then driving will be much harder to accomplish. An entire paragraph about snow has just been written this morning. I guess that means that my writing process is ongoing and successfully covering whatever comes to mind. 

Initially I had been considering doing hardcover books and not paperback editions for a few of the things I was going to release this year. Now I’m thinking maybe setting up the paperback editions of the ones that are going to physical printing would be the right thing to do at this point. It would require going through the entire process of doing a proof copy and the painful waiting for the printing and review process that causes. I’m going to wait until the end of my current review cycle and see if it is something that I’ll be able to stomach this year. I really do not like waiting for physical copies of a book to arrive. That point has probably been made abundantly clear. I’m about to stop the writing process this morning and move on to the snow shoveling part of the day. We are about to arrive at 0707 hours when daybreak is scheduled to arrive. A good bit of shoveling is about to occur.

Working along on some writing projects

Yesterday I spent some time finishing up my week 52 post for The Lindahl Letter. This morning I gave it another pass including some light editing and expansion. My weekend routine of writing posts on Saturday morning and editing the post the next day during my Sunday morning writing adventures has been working out well enough. This last time around I waited till the very end of the writing process and moved all of the content over to a word processing document template setup for publishing. I’m not sure if this time around I should figure out a way to just write into the template and begin with the end in mind. The problem with that strategy is that the final product won’t include all the weekly links to videos and Tweets. To get to that point the content would have to be more embedded into the post in the form of ongoing prose instead of broken out a section of links. Unfortunately, sections of links do not translate very well to a manuscript. They are more suited to a weekly newsletter format where clicking digital links is the outcomes of the process instead of an archival purpose. 

Things to do this weekend:

  1. Finish week 52 of The Lindahl Letter for 1/21 publication
  2. Final review and publish on Upper Bound Chronicles eBook
  3. Review and publish on Dream Chaser Archives eBook
  4. Start edit of United Earth Chronicles
  5. Begin work on Older Essay’s Assembled eBook

Writing along the journey

A few different weblog posts have been abandoned throughout the last week. Earlier this week the eBook edition of, “The Lindahl Letter: On Machine Learning,” went live all over the internet. That was exciting. Two other eBooks are nearing the completion of their editing journey on my desktop. 

My projects folder has roughly 30 or so previously started or completed works. Some of them have been online for over a decade. Even if some of that content had been posted online years ago it feels like editing it before eBook publication is the right way to go about it. Sure it would be easier to just copy and paste it into a template and start the publishing process.

Oh those writing projects

On Saturday morning, I sat down and started drafting out the 52nd Substack post of my “The Lindahl Letter” series. This post will probably be dedicated to lessons learned and a few thoughts about writing a Substack post for a full year. At that time, I was still working on all three writing projects that were mentioned last week. Saturday was the day that my latest manuscript came back from the editor. That manuscript did end up coming back from the editor. I spent a few minutes tinkering with it and ordered a proof copy of the finished product to see what it looks like on actual pages. Sometime in the next 30 days that proof copy will arrive. Sometimes editing with a pen and paper on a printed copy is the only way for me to catch those last few typos that are hiding somewhere on the pages as future eratta. 

The printed version of the book is inflight and that is exciting. The next step in the process will be to convert it into an eBook. To that end, right now I have the eBook up and ready for one last edit on the final version of my latest book, “The Lindahl Letter: On Machine Learning.” My effort ended up being 154 pages and is both edited and formatted well for the page. What is remaining is one more start to finish read today to catch any last second typos or formatting problems before committing it to permanent storage within the eBook format. That type of effort requires a ton of focus and probably a few shots of espresso along the way. Hopefully, the general flow of the finished product is solid enough that my editing will move along swiftly for a final read. 

Yesterday, I did manage to share the week 50 post on both Twitter and Facebook. My strategy of social sharing the content seems to be working out well enough. I’m not going to call it a market strategy as that would imply some type of professional bar for distribution is being met and that is not the case. Put simply I’m just sharing links to the content to see if a few more people each week will start reading on an ongoing basis. I guess that is how readership grows in an organic way. 

At some point, I’m going to write a post or a book called, “Careless with the page.” That title stuck with me yesterday and I ended up writing it down in Google Keep for later review. After I complete editing the previously mentioned eBook today and get it submitted, the next step in the puzzle will be interesting. I have about 10 other manuscripts that need to be edited into eBook format and launched into publication. Earlier this year I spent some time thinking about the nature of mortality and how true it is that we need to use the time we have toward productive endeavors. Within that framework it seemed to me that all those manuscripts that are essentially parked need to be edited and shared out as eBooks for posterity.

Keeping writing a priority

Right now my focus is on working three different pieces of content to completion. 

  1. On Machine Learning – this book needs some work to update the footnotes after it comes back from the editor
  2. Considering product choices – this future paper needs to go from a talk based slideshow (PowerPoint) to a paper
  3. I need to finish the slides for my “The next 5 years of ML in the healthcare space” talk

Each one of these needs a different level of care to complete the effort. One of the things that I need to focus on continuing throughout 2022 is keeping at least 3 writing projects open. This obviously does not include my daily writing efforts or the one off projects that get sparked from the flames of imagination. This list of things that I’m working on will continue to be a living list that will undergo change. From here on out I’m just going to write about my projects. Taking that course of action will give me more content to write about and help focus on thoughts on the task at hand. Keeping a list of open writing projects helps me take my time on Saturday and Sunday morning and focus it on something more academic. One of the things that is very important to me is to start turning more of my focus to writing academic papers and manuscripts moving forward.

Working on manuscript updates

My writing schedule has been updated for Sunday on a go forward basis. The schedule now includes a morning writing session to review my Substack post and work on academic articles for 1-3 hours, publishing a note on LinkedIn about the last Substack post, and sending a Tweet about my last Substack post. Working within that writing schedule will probably help increase the readership of the newsletter. To pick up my subscribers the content is going to need to be posted to Twitter and to LinkedIn. This week I even elected to login to my highly dormant Facebook account to share the link. 

Over the last two months my writing productivity has really plummeted. That is something that needs to be rectified here one day at a time. Reversing a trend like that is just about spending the time at the keyboard to write larger blocks of prose. I have a manuscript in progress that is entitled, “On Machine Learning: The Lindahl Letters of 2021.” I’m going to publish my entire set of 2021 Substack posts in one long manuscript format. All of the content has been put into a basic manuscript draft and I’m currently working on starting at the beginning and reworking the content from start to finish before publication. This is one of those things that I’m probably going to need to send to my editor before final publication. Right now the manuscript is about 165 pages long, but that could easily get longer before publication. 

Earlier this morning I just could not manage to get back into the flow of writing. A trip to the donut store and a stop to get some coffee happened, but a bunch of time writing never occurred. Getting back on schedule with a writing routine has to be my primary focus moving forward. Yesterday I created a draft post with two solid paragraphs of content. For some reason that was where my productivity stopped. I’m about to watch the Kansas City Chiefs game on Sunday night football. During that game my plan is to try to rework the content and get it ready for publication on Friday.

A busy Sunday writing day

Today was super productive in terms of writing. For some reason, I got up this morning and worked to take my Substucks and work toward getting them into a publishable format. That all started with a moment of introspection, “Right now I’m wondering if The Lindahl Letter newsletter currently published on Substack should be offloaded as a year one manuscript for publication. It would be pretty easy to just take the 52 posts and strip out the links/thoughts and Tweets sections.”[1] A few moments later a second thought occurred about the subject as well related to the possibility of switching up topics every year for a really deep research focus including 52 different inquiries. That one I’m not as sure about, but well over an hour was invested into formatting the The Lindahl Letter into a Microsoft Word document ready for publication via a book aggregation service that handles publishing across a multitude of platforms.

The advertising plan seemed a little bit sad after the first draft. It went a bit like this, “Sometimes when the internet is not working do you miss having a physical copy of The Lindahl Letter on your bookshelf?” Yeah, that did not seem compelling to me either. However, if that is something you were looking to have, then you can look forward to a publication of the one year manuscript. Right now the topic list is out to week 59 and I have a few more topics to transfer from my Google Keep files. That took the planned writing list out to week 65 which was a little bit better. I’m going to need to spend some time working on more topics to feed into the list. So far during the writing process the topics have sort of been generated in little spurts of creativity. 

Footnotes:

[1] At the moment, only 46 of the 52 posts are written and ready to go. Outside of that temporal problem the manuscript is mostly done.

A bit of writing

Writing. It all started with opening a Google Doc from my browser shortcut. A date was set in the first line using the familiar year, month, and day format that will sort forever onward in series. The location of the work for the day came next in the string of words that were type. In this case it was my Dark Base Pro 900 based desktop computer. Finally, at the top of the document it was noted that this is a weblog post in search of a title. Later in the writing process a title will appear as if it spontaneously came out of a spark of imagination. That is pretty much literally where things come from as far as I can tell. No random title generator was used during these efforts. That point of intrigue would be more effort compared to the rich rewards of taking the time to actually write on a daily basis. 

Part of this daily writing process is about improving my craft as a writer. Practice helps build up the habit of writing. That is how we improve as writers. The other part of my effort is to focus and organize my thoughts. It is about taking whatever happens to be at the forefront of my mind and really bringing focus to that content. Sometimes it yields interesting prose and other times it just helps me begin the day with a heightened awareness of higher order thought, consideration, and a respect for the path toward a perfect possible future. Every day the effort is to improve and understand the chaotic world around us. Naturally, a part of that is thinking about the intersection of technology and modernity. Within that intersection are profound changes for civil society and our journey relating to each other.

Getting back to whiteboard days

A quick check of the old weblog will clearly show that the last post produced by me was on Friday, September 17, 2021. Something along the way ended up creating a scenario where writing was not working out on a daily basis. That something was a pinched nerve in my neck that just devastated my ability to concentrate. As it turned out the process really did take the longer side of the 4 to 6 week recovery time suggested by internet sources. Honestly, a lot of laying on the floor and thinking happened instead of sitting and writing. Initially in the first couple of weeks after the injured nerve occured I really could not sit and write for very long. A lot of emails were sent from a phone screen while laying on the floor. Things that needed to get done still got done, but it was not the easiest of times to manage for sure. Being able to really truly deeply focus on something was just out of reach. Principally that scenario was frustrating and hard to recover from on a daily basis. It was the first time in my memory that I could not sit down and produce prose at a time of my own choosing. 

Some of the content produced between now and that last publication back in September is just terrible. It is really not very good and it did not get published for a reason. It was kindling on the false start pile for sure or in this specific use case it is just a series of word processing documents destined to be forgotten. Today really has been the first day that with a bit of clarity and some time I was able to sit down and listen to the clickity clack of the mechanical keyboard. This missive is not really a targeted or focused draft of content directed at solving a specific problem or anything like that to be sure. I’m supposed to be writing about getting back to whiteboard days and what that means for the nature of content creation. To me it has a very specific meaning and it is about throwing ideas up on a space that is meant to be erased to work on them without permanence. Sometimes you need to work to refine something before you spend hours writing about it and investing in a proper written explanation. Some ideas are going to be great for consideration. A little bit of consideration alone does not mean that it is worthy of taking it to the next level and that is where a little bit of whiteboard work can help with things. 

Over the years I have written about the benefits of keeping an idea journal/notebook. Sitting behind me in the bottom drawer of a credenza are a stack of notebooks. They contain a varying degree of useful too incredibly unusable ideas and written missives. That is the nature of working and reworking the process for a specific purpose outside of creating a record. For me that purpose is very clear and it is about the nature of pushing things forward. It is an exploration toward a perfect possible future where things are lined up and work out for the very best both personally and in terms of society. That might seem lofty and unorganized, but in principle it sums up my daily routine and efforts. 

* This post was lightly edited for readability after it was written.