Starting down that writing path

A lot of my thoughts have been drifting toward what content should be put into the backlog for this year. Sitting down to rework my writing plan is something that happens at the end of the year and after building out what needs to be done I start down that path. This year got a little bit more complicated based on recovering from being unwell. Sometimes people describe a bit of fogginess or a lack of focus that occurs post this novel sludge that has been going around for the last couple years. It certainly did take some time to get back up to a solid game shape afterward. One of the things that I have been doing is going back and reviewing some of the work that I completed in that window to see if what happened was solid or needs some rework. 

To that end, my writing backlog for this year’s Substack posts is an area that I’m going to keep looking at each week until I’m super happy with it as a go forward plan. Right now the backlog file has a list of posts from week 105 to week 148. That leaves 8 fresh uncopied slots for the year to fill up and of course whatever content ends up getting replaced along the way. Sitting down and writing a chapter every week is an interesting way to go about creating a book. You really have to make sure the flow and content is set up in the right order or the content being created will be a collection of essays and less of a collective work. 

While this post certainly falls into a common weblog post tag theme of writing, Substack, and thinking about my writing plans it has become more a process blog than a collection of events. Blogging a series of process stories in a row that are essentially only relevant to my interest and amusements at the time might not seem like the best idea, but oddly enough this practice has been going on for years. You can easily check the archive and you will find while tactically unfortunate that this trend is certainly dependable. Striving toward the ultimate goal of a perfect possible future always provides opportunity. 

One of the base levels of effort that helps set up a solid writing habit is the creation is on a daily basis filling up the blank page. You can see it in a word processing program as you get to the bottom of what is considered the page. It slowly comes into focus as the paragraphs pile up and you get that sense that in just a few more sentences a victory will be achieved. One of the things that has troubled me about that writing process is just how fast and easily some of the new chat style models are producing content. All of these words were produced after downing two shots of espresso, sitting in my office chair, and spending time striking keys on the keyboard at the start of the day. Perhaps it is debatable if I’m just a slower prompt than what ChatGPT delivers in a few moments. I like to think my writing has a deeper relevance to what I care about which in the end is the core of how experience is expressed in prose. It’s that voice, experience, and more importantly directionality toward an ongoing narrative and focus on my writing plan that I like to think makes my content distinct.

My winter season recap edition of prose

About a week ago on Tuesday, December 20, 2022, my immune system was defeated by the onset of some flavor of SARS-CoV-2 in Kansas City. Our drive back to the house in Denver to set up a quartinee fort was pretty uneventful. It has been almost a week now and I’m just now mentally clear enough to sit down and write in a stream of consciousness fashion. Sometimes people talk about a fuzziness or a loss of concentration that happens and it was certainly a factor. The first couple of days brought chills, fever, headache, and some type of respiratory crud. It knocked me off my writing game for a solid week and a couple days in that stretch I mostly just stayed in the same spot. Really the only lingering system was a loss of taste which is hard to describe to someone, but is really a bummer of a thing to experience. Mentally I know what the orange slice or my espresso shots should taste like, but everything is dulled and muted. That new taste experience continues and I’m hopeful it will slowly cease over the next couple of weeks. 

We made the best of the Christmas season for sure, but it was one where I lived my best quarantine life and stayed in the guest room. Fortunately, nobody else in the family at the house came down with anything which is really wonderful. That includes the dogs as well who were super happy to see us, but did not come down with anything. It was a Christmas full of cold and snow on an epic and pretty large national basis. A massive winter storm swept the nation with talk of massive changes in temperature. Denver had a 47 degree drop in temperatures across a two hour span for a totality of things getting 75 degrees colder. We had negative temperatures for two days and it was miserably cold. The aforementioned dogs did not think it was funny at all and were lightning quick to pop in and out of the house for the minimal amount of required business. 

Things have now warmed up and as you can tell by this brief missive of somewhat lucid prose I’m back at the keyboard working on some things. On the brighter side of things 2023 is almost here and this next week will be one of reflection and intellectual adventure. I’m going to be able to spend some time trying to focus now and review my five year writing plan.

Staring down that writing plan without hesitation

Today I sat down to spend some time deeply focused on my 5 year writing plan. I’m about to enter year two of this plan and I was trying to decide if now would be the best time to revise and extend my previous plan. A year has passed and now instead of covering 5 years the plan only covers the next 4 years. I have been taking a pretty good and lengthy look at what has been identified as part of my year 2 ambitions. Based on where things sit right now I’m not sure I need to revise the writing plan. Things are set in motion for year 2 of the writing plan and adding something to the end of the plan won’t really do anything to or for my current writing efforts. It might just be the right time to take no action on that one. Probably at the end of 2023 the writing plan will need to be revised and a new commitment will need to be made to complete that work.  

My weblog posts have started to receive longer titles. That new trend is probably a consequence of wanting to keep creating original ones. We are quickly approaching the end of the year and I’m looking at the next 25 weeks of my detailed writing backlog. Instead of working on that backlog I have elected at the moment to dance with the blank screen and write down a few observations in weblog form. Right now the weblog is currently split between public and private posts. I’m not sure why I have so many of the older posts in private mode. At one point, I had considered enforcing a sunset on posts where after 3 years or so all that old content will just fade into private status. The way the internet works to preserve things that effort is probably not a solid strategy to actually retire content, but it seemed to make sense to me at the time. 

That lines up with my once doomed effort to put all my weblog content into manuscript form to keep it for posterity. Even the thought of going back and editing more than a decade of my weblog published thoughts does not seem compelling enough to stir action. I’m probably not going to go and do that at any point along the way. My energy and attention are focused on the creation of new content. The older content will have to just remain the way it is and I’m sure that will be fine. 

Working my original content creation plan for 2023

Very early this morning I sat down to work on my writing plan for 2023 and to write 5 longer form tweets that were full of original content. It has felt like Twitter needed some more original content. Instead of working toward writing a weblog post today, that is where I put my attention. Obviously, I decided to package all that up into a weblog post for good measure. This writing effort was part of an effort to mix things up a bit and write in a different way. 

  • This was actually a pretty productive morning. I sketched out a writing plan for about the next 25 weeks. As we move from 2022 to 2023, my primary weekly content creation is going to shift a bit from ML to a stronger AI focus and more content on modern polling methodologies.
  • Building original content within an ongoing narrative related to a specific theme or as a collection takes time. It’s ongoing and sustained. Sometimes the tipping point on that one is when the totality of the narrative becomes large enough it cannot be consumed anymore.
  • Working toward the edge of what is possible while bringing people along for the journey changes the nature of how the community in totality moves forward with that project. Within the summation of that community a general level of knowledge exists. That is a shared foundation.
  • So much opportunity for new business exists as we see the potential intersection of technology and modernity. Changing frontiers of technology are opening the door to all sorts of disruptions in operational patterns that create windows of advantage in markets that are developing.
  • Converting the backlog contained in a writing plan into action involves having a defined time for achieving that objective and a valid writing plan. My efforts to make that happen have been about waking up early and devoting a daily hour to writing.

I’m curious what would happen if I pushed out a few tweets like that on a daily basis. Most of the time the content that I share to Twitter involves links to things that I read and thought should be shared in the stream of things. More content exists in the Twitter stream that could ever be consumed by a single person. We have more signal in the stream than anybody could possibly sort out and that in some ways makes all that micro signal sharing into a general noise.

Just blogging along over here

This is my third weblog post in as many days. You might be ready to call it a streak. Right now I’m on a little vacation from Twitter for the weekend and this has actually increased the amount of time that I would spend writing. I’m spending some of that extra time and focus on trying to figure out where to map out the next set of my writing endeavors. Getting a solid roadmap setup for the next 90 days of writing output will be a really important part of the puzzle. Moving into the new year I’m going to have to refocus on finishing up some AI related content roadmapping for the 3rd year of The Lindahl Letter. I’m really close to sending off the first two years of that content to an editor. I’m hopeful that massive tome of delightful written content ends up distributed in print later this year or potentially early next year in 2023.

This morning my productivity has been pretty good so far. I was able to get a good portion of next week’s Substack post written. Tomorrow I should be able to finish up the draft on that one which will keep me roughly a week ahead of the publishing deadline of every Friday. Recording the audio for the November 18, 2022 podcast was easy enough. I’m still not a big fan of how the Audacity audio editing software changed up the menu’s recently. Within every single podcast editing experience I run a noise reduction transform to remove room noise, a noise gate to remove anything small, and a loudness normalization to help make the listening experience better. Outside of those audio transforms I of course try to edit out any of the major breaths that show up during the recording of raw audio for a podcast.

My weekend routine is really driven by that writing, editing, and recording pattern to meet the drumbeat of that Friday at 17:00 hours publication deadline.

Planning to write and writing about plans

We watched “Thor: Love and Thunder” (2022) on an IMAX screen yesterday. That theater had not changed in a number of years. It was a throwback to the times of yore. Ok, I just wanted to use yore in a sentence. Those very seats could have been in that theater a decade ago the last time I visited. A lot of the larger format screen theaters now have reclining seats that are a bit bigger and a lot more comfortable. These seats could have been from the original installation of the IMAX screen. You won’t find any spoilers here about the movie or a review really. My expectations were for the movie quality to be inline with the previous Thor films. It was within the envelope of expedited Thor adventures. For the most part in the dozens of Marvel based films very few terrible ones exist. They are a window into that world and they provide that adventure. It’s pretty consistent. That is probably one of the reasons the films have done so well at the box office since the original Iron Max (2008) film was released. 

I’m starting to wake up now which took just a few minutes to achieve today. For some reason I’m running a little slower than usual as the day is starting to pick up steam. The sun is rising and the weather seems to be lining up well enough for the back part of this trip to Kansas City. Taking a bit of time to think deeply about where exactly you are in the writing journey is good. Maybe you have a detailed writing plan with a list of upcoming things to work on like an extra awesome backlog of pending adventures. You can certainly extrapolate that out to a map looking set of expectations and plot yourself as a location defining where you are in terms of that journey. That would be one way to go about and it would be interesting. My research trajectory and writing plan are well documented. Somebody else could pick up my work and keep moving along if for some reason I faltered. 

We have now spent the morning considering Thor films and visualizing the writing journey. For the most part this week  I have been working on a bunch of different content related to machine learning. The production quality on weeks 80 to 104 needs to be tip top to make sure the end of the last section of this year’s physical publication of “The Lindahl Letter” is really high quality. Based on my writing plan I’m going to pivot to writing academic style articles after that point in the writing journey with  snippets of that output ending up being published on an online basis. Generally, that will change my writing output to shift from a series of Substack posts being combined into a final collection at the end of the year to a more complex content production process. Academic articles can certainly be broken into sections and that will allow me to publish them in parts along the way. It will create a scenario where I’m sharing content on the same topic for several weeks in a row. Given that I won’t know the exact duration of a topic in that format the forward looking guidance will really be on the next 5 topics, but the coverage of those topics could very well end up taking months. It should be an interesting turn of events in the evaluation of my Substack style writing.

A weblog post without a working title

Writing each day takes a bit of energy to get started. It’s that start that always separates a good writing day from a bad one. The prompt is always ready in a digital word processing document. It never fails to deliver. Certainly the problem is usually on the side of the writer and not the technology the vast majority of the time.  Speaking of technology related problems, my smartphone battery has started to require charging multiple times a day. Generally the made by Google Pixel 5 smartphone has worked pretty well over the last two years. We will see what happens here in the next few days in terms of battery life. I’m not a big fan of having to carry a battery pack. I’d rather just have a smartphone that delivers enough battery life to withstand the needs of the day. 

Today my needs are a little unclear. I have a certain amount of focus that is ready to devote to things. At the moment, the problem being faced is that I’m not entirely sure what weighty topic of glory is going to lock horns with that focus as the writing begins to take shape. Things are moving along here without that key topic to drive things forward. At the moment, this is a weblog post without a working title. Working through that type of challenge is about keeping the pace going and trying to settle into a rhythm with the keyboard. You have to relax and find that stream of consciousness to work with where ideas flow and it is hard to keep up with them as they arrive. I keep a backlog of weblog post ideas in my Google Keep  application for just this type of situation. Today however, I’m not going to go search for help from the backlog. I’m just going to continue to ponder the edge of nothingness as the cursor on the screen chases down the end of my thoughts at this very moment of typing. 

A few general themes exist around the topics that I deeply care about and some of that centers around the intersection of technology and modernity. A handful of other themes relating to civility and the social fabric are also ever present in my thoughts. Instead of jumping into that type of work at the start of a writing session I begin with no expectations or prompts and just start to let the process of thinking happen. Generally it takes just a bit for my thoughts to focus on something. That is something that I am totally ok with as I’m willing to take my writing in whatever direction the spirit of the moment takes at the start of the day.  Certainly, a bit of focus on academic writing or a backlog of other writing that needs to be done would be more efficient. That would however fail to capture the possible next thing that might come into being from being willing to jump in any direction. That is how a weblog post without a title finds that spark of creativity and all of a sudden from nothing to something occurs. 

I’m not sure today will include anything special or if the efforts of the day will be memorable at all. Given the chance the entire process will start over again tomorrow.  That is the nature of how this cycle of writing works and for the most part what happens when a writing routine is maintained day after day. My most stable and productive writing routine has to be maintained around writing at the very start of the day when nothing is happening. Oddly enough I really have to start writing and thinking at the point where nothing is happening. No distractions are allowed to occur. I cannot really just put on the noise canceling headphones and writing in a busy room. It turns out that I need that period of just zerospace to get writing. It’s a moment where that nothingness moves from a totality of inactivity to a world of possibility. Ideas begin to break through my attempts to be still in the moment. That is essentially what happens with my stream of consciousness writing efforts. Starting the day that way is my preferred method of content creation. 

Inevitably that writing session will come to an end and I will move from working on one thing to the next. My backlog is very real and at this moment it is daunting to even consider finishing everything in that pile of possible writing output. However, before taking on that type of work that requires a bit of deep consideration it is best to have warmed up the writing process and be ready to do that next level of work. Warming up as a writer is something not to be considered lightly. You have to know what works best for you. Sustaining an ongoing writing routine is about balancing the need for output with the pacing of creativity. Maintaining a solid backlog and writing plan helps with that type of effort of course. 

Oh that desktop clutter abounds

A bit of clutter has made it to my desk. It’s Sunday morning and I should be editing two different Substack posts. They are mostly drafted and otherwise complete, but need a bit of editing to really help bring the prose to the next level worthy of publishing. Recently, I have actually written a few weblog posts that just did not make it to the actual weblog. Sometimes that happens during the course of supporting an expanded writing routine. When I’m writing in the morning and sitting in front of my Dark Base Pro 900 housed computer I follow the workflow pretty well. At the point where the post is done I generally post it. When I’m sitting on the sofa with my Chromebook and just writing a bit that workflow breaks down and we end up with a few weblog posts that get written, but never get shared. I have zero plans to go back and sort out which ones need to be posted and which ones have already been posted. For all practical purposes those posts are simply lost to the weblog. 

This one will probably make it online given that I’m writing at my desk and well aware of the publishing routine at the moment. It is top of mind. Somehow I managed to get a bunch of peanut shell crumbles on my desk. It is seriously everywhere that it could be on the desk. I considered for just a moment using a can of compressed air to rapidly move the mess from my desk. In that case I guess the mess would have been moved to the floor near my desk. I’m going to get a wet cloth here in a few minutes and work on that mess. After that mess is sorted out, I plan on returning to editing on those two different Substack posts that need to be cleaned up. Tomorrow is the day that I need to record audio for both of those posts to get back up to a healthy backlog of 4 Substack posts ready for distribution. 

Notes:

Yesterday via Paramount+ the streaming service we watched a film called The Lost City (2022) and it was a passable two hours of adventure storytelling. To be fair on this one I was not really satisfied or dissatisfied with the movie.

Working fullscreen: I’m editing the “Substack Week 73: Symbolic machine learning” post to prepare it for audio recording tomorrow or potentially later today. It took about 20 minutes to edit the post. I did end up increasing the zoom from 150% to 200% during this editing effort. This post ended up getting a bit meta instead of remaining directly focused on the topic at hand. I’ll go with it this time around. This post is now ready for podcast audio recording.

Editing the “Substack Week 74: ML content automation” post took a little bit more effort. That post is now ready for recording as well. My writing efforts this morning were productive.

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.

Completing enough content before spring break

The first portion of this morning was spent on editing a Substack post called, “Touching the singularity.” My routine of writing on Saturday morning and finishing the editing on Sunday morning worked well enough. I was able to complete the audio recording for that post today and it is scheduled to go out on Friday April 1, 2022. Based on the current planning and scheduling I’m four weeks of recordings ahead on The Lindahl Letter. After spring break that buffer will be diminished by a couple of weeks. I’m not sure The Lindahl Letter will ever be months ahead in terms of recording. The content is not meant to be tied to a specific time and place. I’m trying to write in a more general way that really covers a topic vs. trying to provide news or observations that are time sensitive. One of the things that I do need to complete at some point is a YouTube video about the audio recording and editing process. You can probably expect a video about how I record podcast audio at some point in the near future. It has been snowing since last night in Denver, Colorado. It’s March 6th and we have several inches of snow on the ground. Being stuck in the house all day might be the catalyst to complete that video. 

I’m probably going to need to update OBS and maybe take some B roll of the microphone setup itself with my Sony ZV-1 digital camera. Given a couple shots of espresso and the right amount of quiet time I can probably record the entire thing in one shot without a script. My podcast recordings are highly scripted and produced to the point of sounding professional. At least, I think they are relatively professional in audio quality for a weekly podcast recorded at my desk for the pure purposes of adventure. Given that I’m already starting to think about the mechanics of the recording process, that video is probably going to happen. I have a couple of hours right now that are going to be spent on digging into the content presented in my 5 year writing plan. Finding solid blocks of time to engage in academic writing is something that will continue to be a priority. Really sitting down and deeply focusing without distractions is almost becoming a super power these days. It is something you have to be planful about and really make happen on purpose.