Committing to the writing process

The only time I signed each weblog post was during the great race to a big writing year. Maybe 2023 will be the year I strive to write 1,000,000 words on this weblog again. During the last attempt at that effort things eventually broke down in the writing process. You have to be ready to really set aside two solid hours every single day to write. During those two hours that you have set aside you have to commit to the writing process without hesitation or procrastination. You basically have to defeat writer’s block up front with planning and a solid backlog. That was back in 2018 and I’m a much stronger writer at this point. I would probably write a post for The Lindahl Letter every day and about 1,000 words of journaling. That is what it would take to sustain 3,000 words per day as a functional output. I would most certainly burn down the entire backlog of writing projects that need attention. 

That might very well be my commitment for 2023. I’m at least giving it some serious consideration at this point. This post right now is the second in a row directly written and developed in a Google Doc word processing session that happens to be stored in a Microsoft Word .DOCX file that is packaged and set up for publishing as a printed manuscript. This entire document will be ready to upload for publication on January 1, 2023 after six solid months of writing daily essays and observations. Based on the first two posts it may not be all that interesting, but it will be a timely set of thoughts and essays that are ready to be shared with the world. I am at this point working toward that point of publication. That means I’m going to have to write in this document, do a bit of proofreading for overall consistency, and publish the content over on the “Functional Journal” each and every day. It will be very easy to do a basic word count of this 6 month writing effort and see how close it would be to a big year of writing productivity. 

Gearing up to write at a production level of 3,000 words per day is probably not something that will happen by accident. It will need to be a planful and sustained effort. Energy and time will need to be devoted to making that happen. Like right now I woke up early in the morning and sat down to write. Nobody else is awake in the house right now. Even the dogs went back to sleep. intellectually I know the sunrise happened outside my window, but thoughts and attention were focused right here on the screen. It is enjoyable to type on this Corsair mechanical keyboard. The ergonomics of my desk setup are decent and this early in the morning it is easy to focus on producing content. The quality, timeliness, readability, and of course relevance of this content is a different question.

Ready that writing timer

Set that 15 minute timer and get ready to write. Sometimes you need to get out a timer. Be it old fashioned or digital timer and set aside some time to write. The simple act of chasing the keys on the keyboard for a specific block of time can open the door to adventure. I suppose you could just as easily drop the needle on your favorite vinyl record and start writing along to that as well. A lot of ways to make time exist and the process of somehow getting into the flow of writing is the important piece of the puzzle. That is where things start to get going and where things start to come together. At the start of the day I was looking forward down the paths of a ton of different perfect possible futures. Things have to get done to help move along those paths. Momentum alone is not going to help me realize the best possible outcomes. That is part of a process of working toward the right things and being ready to close things out.

That is where my thoughts are focused at this very moment. I’m deeply thinking about being an activity closer today and just getting things done. Today is not going to be a day of reflection, it is going to be a day of resolution. Sure better ways of saying that in a more refined way exist, but I think the point got made. Today has to be a day of getting to the point. Supporting a nexus of indecision at this point remains counter to getting things done. I’m ready to start this day and keep things moving along. That is a great way to kick off Monday. Welcome to the start of a great week. I’m almost on track to write a page of prose about that timer that started a little bit ago and is still going. For some reason this paltry amount of prose took me a pretty decent block of time to create. My thoughts were clear, but they were not flowing at a really solid pace this morning. That is pretty much the way things have been going for the last few days. 

Some time ago I really invested and worked toward writing 3,000 words per day. Doing that really required a block of time in the morning and at night to invest in the creation of words. You have to kickstart the day early with good topics you are passionate about to get to that type of word production. Sadly a lot of that ended up in a closed loop of writing about writing during the course of writing. Breaking out of that loop required doing and thinking about other things. One of the ways I’m avoiding that pitfall right now is the weekly Substack post I’m working on that breaks that cycle. That involves researching and digging beyond the natural flow of words about my process and digs into something more tactical in the now. You have to be ready to focus in on things and get things done, but sometimes having a writing assignment can kickstart that focus. To help myself along the way I have a long running list of topics to cover. That series of guideposts helps keep me on track and avoids missing the writing target.

A little bit of writing about writing

I’m still not sold on the Gutenberg editor that WordPress has rolled out recently. Writing in a word processing application is the way I go about my efforts. That is pretty much the way I put words on the pages. From that blank sheet full of possibilities to this post full of middling and otherwise disappointing prose. Today was a day that lacked any clear clarity or purpose. It was a day that just sort of happened. For a lot of folks on a lot of different days that tends to happen. You just put one foot in front of the other and muddle through from start to finish. Right now I’m supposed to be working on taking the, “End-to-End Machine Learning with TensorFlow on GCP,” course on Coursera. That is the first course in the Advanced Machine Learning with TensorFlow on Google Cloud Platform specialization they just started offering. I’m not sure exactly what is stopping me from finishing my first course tonight. It could just be the dragging march toward a bedtime that will be here before I know it or it could be something else.

Writing 500 words on the same topic for 30 days

This sentence was written after all of the rest today. For some reason it seemed like a good idea to revisit the beginning at the end of my writing session. That is in part related to some editing and review.

Nels at the end of the day

Something seems to be lurking around in the edges of my consideration. Maybe it is driving me toward accepting a new challenge to write 500 words on the same topics for 30 days. That is a real and interesting thought exercise. Seriously it is a very challenging thing to take on. Saying something original on the same topic 30 times does not seem trivial. Stacking up that many new and original thoughts along the way to providing a useful trajectory could be interesting. It could be something that might help me push just beyond the edge of what is possible. Maybe that possibility is enough to make taking on the challenge something that should be done. Given that this new challenge might help along the journey to writing 1,000,000 words in the same year. Maybe it is a building block that will help build a big writing year. That might very well be the case. October could be the month where that exercise kicks off and gets going.

Taking 15 minutes at the end of the day to engage in the creation of prose can take things a variety of different directions. We spend a ton of time and energy thinking about both the past and the future. A lot less of our time and energy is spent on understanding the nature of the moment that is occuring right now. Everything that is happening right now is obviously between the future and the past. It is something else. It is the moment where taking action is possible. It is a moment that is separate from any thoughts about how to take action, the merits of taking action, or even debates about what other actions might possibility do. An entire book could be spent tearing down and building up being present in the moment. So much of that defines where things are going and what perfect possible futures exist.

Maybe this week will be the week that helps center things and move things forward. Bringing all of my thoughts together and building something seems so possible. At the same time, that door opening to possibility remains elusive. I have to do a bunch of training sessions this weekend that required a bunch of reading and watching videos. During the course of working on that training it seemed like a good idea to format all of my USB drives. It was pretty easy to use the Webroot utility that permanently deletes content. That exercise was completed before a quick format to remove any title on the drives. It has been some time since I needed to use a USB drive. Devices like that used to be an important part of managing a computer and files. Now the cloud has defeated the need for most of my USB drives. In some ways they are just not as useful as they used to be a decade ago.

A day off from adulting

Entering the time of was easy enough. Taking it was the hard part. Over the years it just gets harder. You can pretty much accept that as a part of life, the universe, and work. Most of the time adulting gets in the way of the things that captivated us, that inspired us, that dared us to imagine a world beyond what we could see or feel. That really was the essence of the possible. It was the glimpse beyond the edge of what was possible. Something about that just stuck with me. Years ago the need to strive beyond the edge of what was possible went from concept to reality. It was a palpable feeling that drove a certain type of single minded purpose that was not entirely healthy. Maybe it was just as unhealthy as struggling to adhere to taking a day off from adulting. That is where this story starts. It starts at the edge of what is possible. It starts with taking a day off from adulting.

Ok. Maybe those two shots of espresso did not hurt things. A little jolt of caffeine was just enough to get things going and in this case the going had to get moving in the next thirty minutes or this window was going to close. That is how things work these days. Windows of time open and you have to figure out how to cultivate any seed of creativity that you might have. Sure that might sound simplistic, but waiting for some type of inspiration to strike and hoping you have a window of time open seems like a recipe for intellectual disaster. All of that adulting pretty much builds up into a wall of responsibility that prevents on demand creative sessions.

Anyway today was going to be about taking a day off from adulting. It was going to be about setting aside that wall of responsibility and just digging into something meaningful and lasting. Sure those are some high expectations for a single creative sessions, but if you don’t aim for making a dent in the universe why bother preparing your lance to ride at full tilt anyway. Striking fear in the heart of a row of windmills might seem just as impossible as making a dent in the universe, but daring to dream big just makes the journey more interesting.

Writing a bit on my Pixel 2 XL

Tonight was one of those nights. Things were happening and the day had come and gone. All things build to this time of the night. It takes a bit to get everybody ready for bed. Routines exist and those are part of the pattern. Our now 1 year old puppy Captain Pickles does not really prepare for the end of the day. That dog just runs amuck until it is time to take a nap. You can imagine that is pretty much like it sounds. A lot of running and puppy style behaviors followed by hours of very still sleep. My cup of coffee is still somewhat warm. I’m not going to microwave it tonight. Finishing it before it gets cold enough to require that is a major part of my motivation to keep going. This post is being written in the WordPress Android application. I’m not entirely sure if this interface is checking my spelling. Things could have gone horribly wrong.

I’ll probably drop this post into a Google Doc later and see what happens. Writing with this Logitech K780 is getting easier each time. The keyboard itself is heavy enough and the keys are pretty well spread out. It is probably big enough to make it difficult to use as a traveling keyboard, but it works great at the house.

Those 15 minutes of effort

Today just might be the day that things get back on track. Those 15 minutes of effort are what it takes to center my thoughts. At the end of the day or sometimes at the beginning sitting down and writing for 15 minutes is the key to unlocking a solid path forward. Striving forward on some type of useful path is really the essence of an unfolding perfect possible future. Writing for a few minutes and getting centered is important. You really do have to figure out the path forward and begin taking that first step along the path.

Next week has to be marked with decision. It has to be full of decision points that push things forward. Maybe that is just enough to help move beyond cleaning up my office and thinking about writing. One of my recent plans was to try to use just my Pixel 2 XL smartphone to write for a week. It seems that the format that did spart a few words tonight was my ASUS Chromebook C101P. Next month Google is going to release some new hardware. Maybe a new tablet or a Pixelbook will entice me to replace this device. Chasing the bleeding edge of technology is not the best use of my time and resources, but for some reason it always seems to be the thing that I end up focusing on time and time again.

Day 229 the one where I just kept typing

Day 229 and 230 the ones where I just kept typing

Dear Reader,

Today was a day that finished with some typing. It was the kind of writing that just keeps going. Maybe that last cup of coffee was the spark. Sometimes just the rhythm of typing is enough to keep things going. Last night I just fell asleep.

This morning I deeply considered taking down my Functional Journal weblog. That would mean taking down almost 2,000 posts spanning 20 years of writing. Some of it is no longer relevant to the context it was written. Some of it was just poor writing. A few pages were probably thoughtful and ultimately epic.

One of the things that I am considering is using Twitter or maybe Google Keep to just track all my notes throughout the day. Over the years I have accumulated a huge stack of notebooks that contain my thoughts, observations, and ideas. Something has to give here and what was done by hand needs to shift over to a more digital approach. Part of that will be focusing on primarily using my phone as a primary writing device.

Right now the one note that was struck me in a way that was meaningful happens to be, “I need to pick something to focus on.” Picking one thing to focus on would be highly impactful. Really digging deep and creating a degree of depth related to one thing instead of farming increasing general knowledge breadth.

Dr. Nels Lindahl
Broomfield, Colorado

Day 228 the one with some wondering

2018: Day 228 the one with some wondering  

Dear Reader,

Today is going to be one of those days where this blog post does not have a featured image. I’m just not in the mood to deal with that brand of randomness today. In some ways it is probably the randomness of it that makes me want to reject it. A photo should add to the content instead of just adding a visual distraction to fill a convention. I’m still not comfortable writing in the Gutenberg editor. Right now I am back over in a Google Doc writing for the sake of writing. For some reason writing in the Gutenberg editor just seems to offend my sensibility. Change in this case is not inspiring me to be more creative. It is just encouraging me to stay entrenched in my standard word processing routine.

Today my thoughts and words are wondering around the point. Things on the edge of being useful are just in the shadow beyond any degree of imagination within this moment. Sure that sometimes happens. We move in and out of the moment. Being committed to the moment takes a certain degree of effort. Being committed to the moment is not inherent to stillness. Some degree of action is required to capture the moment.

Dr. Nels Lindahl
Broomfield, Colorado

Day 227 the one where I thought about using my phone as a computer

Dear Reader,

Using only my Google Pixel 2 XL smartphone for an entire week could be possible. Right now I’m writing on my ASUS C101P Chromebook. That is my primary writing device. Neither of my larger computers downstairs inspires me to write. For some reason sitting down at my office chair and hammering out page after pape just does not happen anymore. Earlier today I started to think about using my Pixel 2 XL for writing and computing. I’m pretty sure that it would be possible to connect a monitor, keyboard, and mouse via a dock. That dock in question has been ordered. Sometime next week a Satechi Slim Aluminum Type-C multi-port adapter will show up via the mail. With that new device it may be possible to power down my main computer and just use my phone to do everything for a week. Perhaps that would be a reasonable challenge.

Dr. Nels Lindahl
Broomfield, Colorado