Focused purposeful writing

My writing is starting to happen in blocks that could be Tweets, “Ok links to week 68 of The Lindahl Letter have been posted to both Twitter and LinkedIn. Last week I wrote, but did not record audio for week 71. This morning I wrote the first half of a double issue for week 72.”

My goal for this week is to be really focused on purposeful writing. All my communications are going to be edited and rock solid this week. It feels like my ability to write lately has required more sustained focus. Something is different for sure, but it is not apparent.

Today is probably going to be a day of working on tasking and knocking things out. Normally my productive window is early in the morning hours, but today I’m going to have to be ruthlessly focused on getting this done during a 5 hour block of time.

Spending that time wisely

The weekend is upon us with the opportunity to get some things done. A few blocks of time will exist in the morning and the afternoon on both days to spend on something. It makes me really question just how wisely I can spend the time. Generally we don’t commoditize time. I do think of some blocks of time that can be spent on something. It is trying to make sure that we are spending those blocks of time wisely that captures a lot of my focus. My writing routine helps to keep me on track for the most part. Every day at 0500 hours the alarm on my Fitbit watch goes off and I start the day. Larger blocks of time are reserved on Saturday and Sunday morning for producing prose and really digging in deep. However, you can tell from the general pattern of the routine that each day starts out with a bit of writing. 

My big plan for the day is to really get ready for a big trash pickup tomorrow. We have a few larger things that need to get sorted out. I generally feel the same way about my major writing projects. I have a few that need to get sorted out and the rest just need to be organized and worked to resolution. Sure my writing strategy should help make that easy enough. Sometimes you have to dig in and give the old writing strategy a bit of review to see if the trajectory is still sound. Producing prose for the sake of producing it has a certain amount of merit. However, working toward something more meaningful has a better case for spending the effort to get it completed. Especially if you are going to view that effort as a coin for a block of time that has to be spent wisely.

Powering through with positive intent

Handling those times where things do not line up well or don’t go exactly right is one of those things that requires something more of you. Normally I’m driving forward by the power of my convictions to achieve a perfect possible future. I really do believe that tomorrow has the possibility of being better than today. Sometimes events happen or things go sideways that test that belief system. Right now my emotions are clouded with a bit of that which has opened the door to some deep questioning on my part. Within that moment considerations of retreat or defensive postures come to the forefront of my thoughts. Powering through with positive intent and a belief in a better future becomes much harder. I’m watching it snow right now in the middle of March and thinking about what action I need to take toward a path of personal growth. A week ago my thoughts were very clearly focused on a bountiful future of fun writing projects. It’s interesting how a few things can change my perspective. Normally I’m pretty good at compartmentalizing my writing from other efforts. Today is one of those days where that mental separation of things seems to be failing.

Working into a bit of writing

I’m going to let this missive go out as a Tweet storm using the Twitter Thread feature today. Generally I have just allowed it to do a single Tweet which would allow people to get back to the weblog from Twitter via the link if they wanted to read that particular gem of intellectual audacity. Really they are mostly just my musings about the intersection of technology and modernity of the process of writing. 

Yesterday I constrained my writing session to blocks of 280 characters based on a Twitter limitation. A consequence of that constraining was that only 5 blocks of wonderful prose were created during the writing session. Some of them were pretty good, but a couple of them got stilted and otherwise sad. Trying to take an idea that was just written and then editing it down to the limit of 280 characters was really time consuming and just slowed down my entire writing process. My writing had no flow or effective path forward. Writing and them immediately editing that block of prose is not the way to go for my writing endeavors. For better or worse it is best to ride the winds of inspiration to produce prose and circle back when the winds calm down to edit after the point of inspiration. That is pretty much the best method for me to generate prose. Effectively that means opening a blank word processing document (Google Docs) and just typing until the need to type is done. A long time ago I used to really have to write before going to bed for the night. You could describe it as a bit of hypergraphia or the compulsion to write. 

All these ideas would show up and just sort of swirl around. At the time, I felt like they were all the most important things I could commit from inspiration to recorded prose. Being compelled to write really did end up taking a lot of sleep time and converting it to working time. Eventually over the course of writing millions of words my daily writing sort of morphed into something that happens in the morning instead of the evening. I wake up and in that foggy period of waking up and getting ready to go I work on writing until I do not want to write anymore. Maybe the mix of writing all day and working on academic things, Substack posts, and other projects has been the key to organizing my writing into a series of routines. I could end up with a better writing schedule beyond my reserved weekend morning writing blocks and sometimes a Friday evening block of time. Those times are usually enough to really dig in and do some academic work. To get that type of work done I need blocks of time that are uninterrupted and allow me to do deep work with a degree of focus that is beyond my other writing sessions. 

Given all of that previous argument above has been written and recorded, I have been working into a bit of writing for about thirty minutes now. A lot of my blogging content ends up being about the feeling and process of writing. I sit down and allow the stream of consciousness writing session to occur without any real control of it or reservations about it. To that end sometimes I end up with a bunch of process related content about writing and thinking about writing. You can find the other content being produced under separate cover based on academic articles and other types of content creation like Substack posts. At one point all of the content ended up floating around in the same stream and for me that worked out well enough as the whole process was to get things inflight for me out of intellectual curiosity.

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.

Writing about the comfort of writing

Well, we made it to Friday. That means a small respite in the cycle of working and working in favor of just the writing part of the equation. Back in March of this year I picked up a K65 RGB mini mechanical gaming keyboard directly from Corsair. It’s a 60% size keyboard with Cherry MX speed keys on it. Really the only thing that from time to time is awkward with the keyboard is the complete and total lack of arrow keys. You have to be more focused on what you are doing and writing as you cannot arrow around on the screen. Outside of that I ended up getting a Kensington Duo gel keyboard wrist rest to make typing on the keyboard comfortable for longer periods of time. I have the corresponding mouse pad as well, but the keyboard wrist rest was key to making the whole thing work. I did not find it comfortable to type for long periods of time on the mechanical keyboard without it. I just realized that this last paragraph was really an exercise in writing about the comfort of writing. 

I was not sure that a min keyboard was going to work for me or that the sounds of a mechanical keyboard would be acceptable in my office. My office is really only shared with the dogs and they do not seem to care about the clickity clack of the mechanical keyboard. For the most part I have come to find it soothing and a part of the writing process. My typing speed is solid enough that the keystrokes end up just being a long string of crashing instead of one off disruptions to the silence. Really for the most part based on my writing schedule the day starts and some music gets played. During the course of listening to that music a blank word processing document gets opened and the writing process is supposed to start. Sometimes I get pulled into a productive effort outside of writing in a stream of consciousness style. Most of the content that gets posted on the weblog is like this where whatever comes to mind is going to get posted shortly after it is written. That pretty much means things that are not a manuscript, academic article, or work of fiction. 

One of the things that I want to really refocus on moving forward is taking notes throughout the day. Right now I have both Google Keep and the Recorder application setup and ready to capture notes at a moment’s notice. That does not mean that notes are actually captured. Letting all those little seeds of thought disappear beyond the active reach of consciousness is problematic based on my writing schedule. Being productive and actively writing is an important part of my planned daily activities.

Missing the window

Things on the writing front yesterday ended up being a bit of a rambling mess. Given that the objective is to create words that is an acceptable thing, but not a desired outcome. The window for writing today may have passed. An entire book could be written on the subject of missing the window. Sometimes it is worse to be too early within the window and things simply falter or sometimes being too late in the window makes things fall away from the streaming now. For better or worse when the time comes to be in the window getting it right the first time is an important part of making it work.

Upcoming Research

Yesterday I completed an order for a couple of St. Vincent vinyl records. I’m going to give them a listen and see what I think about the records after a couple of spins. 

Today I added a static page to the weblog called, “Upcoming Research.” As a space for online content it is going to be devoted to the 5 research projects I’m working on and as part of my daily focus on having a trajectory statement it makes sense to codify current work.

My modus operandi for creating prose is to open a new word processing document every day and begin with a blank page. To this end my tabula rasa approach requires me to bring forward something from nothing. However, given my renewed focus on producing papers and other manuscripts that means a sustained focus will be required. Maintaining a sustained focus on one thing is a different type of modus operandi compared to trying to really clear your mind and work from a state of a pure stream of consciousness that approaches a true state of tabula rasa. While it is totally possible that both methods can be utilized. They are mutually exclusive by definition. One is a seeded method to preload content and the other is a method to avoid preseeding ideas or intentions. 

I’m back on my intermittent fasting diet of only eating two meals between 1100 hours and 1800 hours. For the most part the meal plan works out well enough, but it is challenging to sustain for several weeks.

Working on that writing focus

Yesterday I spent some time looking at the Ernie Ball Music Man St. Vincent guitar. How exactly that ended up happening is a bit of a mystery, but a bit of online window shopping did occur. It looks like a pretty fun guitar. You all might know that guitar buying season happens during the end of quarter one of the year and is strictly reserved that window. I’m also trying really hard to only buy one guitar a year given that the size of my guitar collection only seems to grow. 

During the course of my day off yesterday I spent some time pondering trajectory statements and exactly what that could entail. The general premise was to write a statement that could be read at the start of the day every day to frame up where things need to go. For the most part I tend to sit down in front of the computer and allow my mind to wander wherever my thoughts might take me in a type of string of conconsiness type of writing effort. The only continuity to this is that the writer is always the same, but the direction could go anywhere at any time. This would be a wholesale departure from that approach and a move to really focus on something every day at the very start of the day. It is something that I might consider picking up for a week or so to see what happens. 

My writing schedule for the most part involves writing the weekly Substack post for The Lindahl Letter every Saturday morning. Revisions and edits are made during my Sunday morning writing session. That means that my weekend morning writing sessions are pretty much devoted to that effort and whatever else gets going at that time. Working on that content is planned out pretty far in advance based on weekly topics. Getting into the flow of doing that work does not require any type of trajectory statement as that work is well planned and understood. It simply has to be done and requires time and focus to complete. Maybe it is the weekday focus in the morning where I really let my mind wander that should become a more targeted writing enterprise.

That single minded purpose

Focus. Single minded purpose. Find that opportunity to really do one thing well. Maybe I’m laser focused at the moment on finding that single minded purpose. I tend to switch between a ton of things during the day. My ability to engage in really deep work is limited day to day. I have windows of maybe an hour or at max two hours to focus in on something and work that task down to resolution. Each day I have to capitalize on translating that focus into outcomes related to producing actual work product. That might sound very transactional and maybe operationalizing a vision of projects to completion does end up being somewhat transactional. A whiteboard full of strategy might look wonderfully beautiful and could lead to a world of possibility, but sitting down to do the actual work is where things get interesting.