Reflecting on deeper work

At the end of the day the weekend will be here. This writing endeavor got off to a slow start today. I’m still feeling rather sleepy for some reason. Even two shots of espresso from my trusty Nespresso machine have not kickstarted the day. Right now I’m using Google Keep to collect notes on things that need more coverage or I should go back and review. My new strategy is to flip the Google Keep cards to green after they have been revisited as part of this grand daily writing project. That helps me at least have some record/memory of what was included and what was not included. One of the drawbacks of writing this early in the morning is that the things that come to mind are not always on the forefront of my thoughts later in the day. When you get into the pattern of blocking and tackling the tasks that come in throughout the day it is much harder to think strategically and deeply about the form, function, structure, and assumptions (FFSA) of complex things. I know that you have to make the time for that type of analysis and review at various points in the day, but sometimes the stream of things happening prevents that type of deeper work. 

This weekend I should have a few blocks of time in the morning to really focus in and work on some things to move them forward. One of the things that has to receive some attention is the week 15 edition of The Lindahl Letter for Substack publication. My efforts to stay ahead of publication have fallen behind and the letter is about to go real time as of Saturday. That has good and bad points. It would probably be in my best interest to work ahead a little bit this weekend and try to draft content for the next 5 weeks, but that might not happen. I just might end up working real time and refining the post each work as it is being written. Part of this 52 week writing effort is to really focus deeply on machine learning and dig into practical applications. That is part of what being a pracademic is all about. In this case it would be about studying applied machine learning in the wild and in academic journals. A responsible academic working from a pracademic mindset would probably translate that into publications. In my case, I’m gearing up to do that as an outcome of the year long research and writing effort. I’m viewing it as a project designed to gain and share knowledge along the way and ultimately refine that into some type of academic article or articles.

All those notes and ideas

Some of my notes over in Google Keep have suggestions for where to take my writing this morning. Throughout the day I capture a few notes now and again that are aimed at sparking a writing adventure at a later date. They are just little nuggets of ideas, but they are rarely drawn out into a full sketch of what could be produced. A long time ago (over twenty years), I used to have a proper idea notebook where I would sketch out ideas before putting them down on paper. For better or worse that idea notebook went everywhere with me and all sorts of things were jotted down for later. At this very moment, I think that notebook is sitting in a pile of retired and slowly aging notebooks in my office. Actually at this very moment they are sitting behind me in the bottom drawer of a cabinet. It could be a somewhat frightening exercise to grab that idea notebook and review it now with the power of twenty more years of life’s lessons, wisdom, and hindsight. Some of those nuggets of an idea that were taken down by hand on page might be interesting. I’m going to venture to guess that a good number of those ideas are about the nature of normativity and the contempt the social animal has for the social fabric. The rest of them are about the opposition the thinker would have to have to that as a juxtaposition or opposite reflection. 

Right now I’m resisting the urge to turn my chair around and start to dig into the ideas of the past. That resistance is allowing me to begin to really think and write with my Google Doc window taking up the whole screen. My chair is comfortably positioned and I’m in a good place to write for about 30 more minutes, but we will see how it goes. Being interrupted in the middle of my writing projects always is so disruptive. When you really focus and get into the moment where your full capacity of thought and emotion is targeted at the act of writing something happens. You let everything else sort of fade away and the moment is yours to take in any direction you want to go one keystroke at a time. Sometimes my thoughts even wonder in the middle of typing as the act of entering actual keystrokes is much slower than my ability to sort of create out loud from the inner voice of narration. I hope that sort of captures it in a nutshell. At the point of meditation taking hold you can feel a sort of zero space where nothing is pulling or pushing you in any direction. In that moment is where I like to allow my thoughts to form around what will get put onto the page. That is the space where I attempt to do my deepest thinking. This is a very different effort from the tactical process of problem solving. 

This post was almost titled, “a history of notes and ideas.” However, the current title of the post won out today. It seemed like the right way to go in the moment. Something in the background took me out of my writing flow for just a second and my thoughts scattered. Recovering from that moment of chaos in a stream of creativity takes a lot of energy and focus. Part of this daily writing project is the commitment to sitting down and filling up a page of prose in one writing session from start to finish. Starting the day off with a solid 500+ word writing session is really a good way to open up the day to more possible paths forward. In some ways it helps me focus my thoughts and really refine where my energy and focus are going to be placed. Generally anything that is really on my mind during this time will proceed to the forefront of my thoughts and receive attention. Inherent within that previous statement is probably the nexus of why this exercise is valuable. All of the content that is outputted is probably less important to me at the moment than the clarity and focus that are achieved through the process of writing.