Things within my normal routine got a little bit out of rhythm. For several days I turned off my alarm clock and just slept until either something woke me up or the day started off naturally. It has been a long time since that type of start to the day had even been considered. Even after returning to a normal sleeping schedule it took a couple of days to get back into the mode of starting the day with a little bit of writing. Yesterday it snowed at the end of the day which was surprising. The snow did not help me get back into the habit of daily writing, but it apparently did not hurt that pattern of effort either.
This month has been truly bonkers in terms of language models being released by major players in the AI space. Things have been so active that I’m actually considering changing up my writing plan for the next few weeks to provide a bit of coverage. That change up probably won’t be something that happens, but it is interesting to consider. I may add some of these topics to the very end of my backlog to reflect on in a few months. Providing immediate reaction coverage is not really what I need to do with my time. One of the things that I find the most challenging about our news feed based communication system is that it values recency over accuracy. We have access to a steady and perpetual stream of news, but few things really get covered over a long period of time.
It is entirely possible that these new models being introduced right now will be impactful enough within the day to day lives of people working, making things, and otherwise engaging digitally that it has to become a part of things. Even Bill Gates jumped into the argument and noted that this current wave of technology is the most important change in decades. It is a lot to consider and my writing session here is drawing to a close. It’s about time for me to jump back into the curation of my topic background and give the road forward a deep bit of consideration. I will note here that it would just take an hour or so for ChatGPT to produce the content for my entire 2023 writing backlog. I like to think that my efforts would be superious and that ChatGPT could not match the depth of my reasoning and consideration, but some of the content being produced is passable. It reminds me not to produce middling prose and to really value the creation of deeper works of content.
Maybe it would be a good time to shift my writing focus into a pure deep dive of polling methods, civic engagement, civility, civil society, and the social fabric of things that bring us together. I’m looking at my backlog and thinking that I should probably just go deep on some topics and blow out my backlog topics toward the end of the year. It would be pretty easy to just refocus a bit away from purely writing about AI and begging to evaluate AI and something else within the focus related to society in general. That effort will be easy enough to implement and we will see what happens here this weekend. I’m about 80% done with a couple posts that need to be finished up and recorded. Working those projects to a conclusion will let me set up the next phases of this writing experiment.
Things got off to a better start today. My energy level was higher at the start of the day. Rocky dog did kick off that day a few minutes before my alarm clock should have gone off. Apparently, the dog based alarm clock was running a little bit early. It’s entirely possible that next week will usher in a golden window of writing adventures. We will see how that one goes. I should have some really good blocks of time to engage in some active writing. That does not always equate to a higher degree of productivity. It just opens the window to it. That opportunity has to be realized to materialize anything. One of the things I want to spend some time working on next week is deeply considering my 5 year writing plan to evaluate where things are and what things should be changed up.
Throughout this month I have been pretty consistent about sitting down and producing some blog related content. Maybe a bit more of an ongoing narrative would be helpful. Perhaps at the crux of this problem is that each one of these missives is the opening part of getting started. Functionally it is a similar thing that happens every day as the process of going from being awake to being ready to be productive starts. That is what I’m attempting to rationalize anyway. An ongoing narrative would be related to the things that I’m interacting with and an explanation of things that are happening along the way. Probably the only way to really do that would be to make sure that a bunch of starter ideas are seeded in Google Keep throughout the day. At the start of the day instead of writing without a prompt. I really just open a blank page and begin to make my way into the writing process. Things would instead start out by grabbing the previous day’s seeds and beginning to work bringing form to those ideas.
That method of seeding would certainly produce an ongoing narrative that was essentially about my interactions with things. It would push this from being a more functional journal and into a more reactionary journal. For better or worse that might be a more interesting thing to consider for a couple of weeks. I pretty much did that during the million word challenge where I had a backlog and used that to help focus my writing efforts every morning. During the course of trying to produce 3,000 or more words per day for a blog that is going to be required.
As it stands right now week 113 of The Lindahl Letter is going to be a long post. Recording it is going to take a good bit of time. That process will probably take about 30 minutes. It should be interesting, which will be a good thing. Right now in the evenings I’m using some of my time that is normally reserved for winding down to work on pushing ahead to build back up that 5 week backlog of content. Generally speaking, a longer editing and review process should produce better content. I’m sure sometimes a good single session post works out well enough, but in the aggregate a little bit of editing and review will improve things.
Like most people I cannot fully edit something that I just wrote. Some time has to pass between the initial bit of writing and the editing pass. Sure some people can switch back and forth with ease, but I miss things. My grammarian tendencies are stronger with gaps between writing and editing for sure. Right at the start of the day when nothing else is happening and no distractions are present I have some golden time that can be spent writing. For the most part this is about an hour to an hour and half of time that includes no disruptions whatsoever. Nobody else in the house is awake and no other disruptions are going to come into focus. It’s just a question of how that golden time is going to be used.
For the most part I use the first little bit of that time to engage in some stream of consciousness style writing. A blank word processing document gets opened up and I start to type. Sometimes this yields a page or so of prose that could go in any real direction. Whatever is top of mind bubbles up and gets my focus and attention until a shift occurs. At some point, it always happens where I stop being in the moment and focusing on just writing and begin to work on some other targeted project. Rarely I will be so consumed by an effort that the moment I wake up I’ll start working on that project and won’t spend the time to clear and focus my thoughts beforehand.
Some people believe in meditation to get to a relaxed state of calm and focus. Based on my needs I can get to that moment of zerospace based on just letting my mind wonder until the stream of thoughts slows down. Part of that is being in the practice of having a daily writing routine. I imagine that sitting down only every once in a while would take a long time to get all the lines of thought down and to reach that point of calmness and reflection. That is one of the reasons that protecting my golden time for writing is so important. It sets up the day and puts me in the right position to work on the hardest things first at the start of the day. That is what works best for me and is a tried and true pattern of habit that I ruthlessly support.
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.
Yesterday, I got back into the practice of daily writing. My overall December writing output for this weblog was a little slow with only 6 missives so far making it all the way to publication. At the start of the day I had a 30 minute window of extreme clarity which was a pleasant way to start the day. With a bit of hindsight on that one I should have sat down and started working on something, but instead of taking that path I just let my thoughts wander around to see where things would end up going. My desk is set up with a computer, keyboard, and monitor for the express purpose of generating prose. Each day I start my efforts by sitting down and working toward the creation of prose. During weekends on Saturday and Sunday all of that effort is generally focused on producing the weekly content for The Lindahl Letter. Weekdays on the other hand are more about stream of consciousness based writing. Certainly that will veer into the creation of a variety of things. Sometimes I end up producing academic content or other times it might be the seeds of a short story.
Right now at this very moment I’m looking at the week ahead to try to figure out exactly how much time I have to spend on a few things that could be completed. It’s that time of year where all the loose ends that could be closed out before the end of the year get a bit of consideration. Certainly far more things require a bit of doing than could possibly be completed. The other core problem around that path forward is that sustaining effort to close out things that could be completed is actually harder than it sounds. Generally, if those things were going to be self powered to resolution they would have been compelling enough to be closed out in the first place. Giving a second round of effort to something might be enough to close things out or it could just be effort to force a false start death rattle. Either way things end up a few of them are going to get a bit of time devoted to them here in the next few days. It is that time of year where chasing down windmills with a titled lance and absolutely no horse happens.
Read: https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/2212/2212.11279.pdf which is also kept at another website here: https://people.idsia.ch/~juergen/deep-learning-history.html
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.
Things are starting to come together. Tonight I’m working on going from draft to complete on Substack posts for the rest of the year. Right now posts for weeks 98 to 101 are currently drafted. Completing that effort will get me to Friday, December 30, 2022. Getting to that Friday will close out the year and should also give me a couple weeks of cognitive break to plan and prepare to shift over into a new year of publishing. At one point, I was running a couple weeks ahead, but that did not last.
I have considered publishing each of the Substack posts here on my weblog as well. Instead of going that direction I elected to package all the content up and deliver a yearly published manuscript. Going with the publication based route seemed like the right way to go about it and last year it was pretty rewarding. Friday, January 20, 2023, will end up being the final Substack of the 104 week series. At that point in the journey, I’ll take all 104 posts and get them over to my editor before publication. On the brighter side of things the first 52 posts have already been packaged and edited with one complete cycle. I’ll put the whole thing back into the editing cycle. That seems like the right way to go about managing overall quality and continuity.
Throughout the rest of this weekend I’ll need to finish up writing and ultimately record podcast audio for 4 different weeks of content. A task like that seems like it should be a possible thing to complete. Some time might be taken away from that task to watch the Kansas City Chiefs play football tomorrow.
I’m very quickly closing in on the last few posts in the 104 week series for my Substack, “The Lindahl Letter.” I’m currently working on the posts for weeks 98 to 104 to close out the two year series. On the brighter side of things week 98 is almost ready for podcast recording. Something has happened to slow things down and I’m not entirely sure if it was a cold that arrived over Thanksgiving or if my topic selection to close things out was just not as good as it could have been. Either way my rate of productivity has dropped off a bunch. Today is the Sunday following thanksgiving which means I should be well rested and ready to draft a few posts really quick this morning. Right now I have the whole day reserved until the Kansas City Chiefs play tonight to write, draft, and tinker with 6 posts. When you hear my voice from the week 97 recording you will know that it is maybe at 50% of where it should be for recording audio. We will see how it goes, but I don’t think that I’ll be recording any additional podcast episodes today even if they get written.
At this very moment, I have put thoughts out into the universe about finishing up drafts on the 6 remaining posts for the year. To begin with the end in mind let’s consider where we are tactically in terms of a production current state.
- Week 99: Started, research, some drafting
- Week 100: Research
- Week 101: Planning
- Week 102: Not even started
- Week 103: Not even started
- Week 104: Started, some drafting
Assuming that each week gets a 500 word boost that would be a 3,000 word output day. I have a large portion of the day reserved for this effort so it is totally possible to write all the things that need to be written. I should have just jumped in and started writing instead of starting off with 300 words on what I needed to do for the day.
Today was one of those days where I spent a lot of time chasing things along. Certainly that can happen from time to time. Right before we went out for dinner the latest issue of my Substack post went up promptly at 17:00 hours.
Every Friday at 17:00 hours a Substack post goes out. I’m getting really close to 104 consecutive weeks of posting. Two years at anything is a real habit for sure. Closing out the last few posts has been much harder than I expected it to be based on the previous run at things. My writing routine is pretty much bulletproof. I wake up just after 05:00 hours on both Saturday and Sunday and devote those early hours throughout the weekend to writing really solid content. Everything throughout the week builds up to that point and writing the final product is about getting to done and clicking publish.
Earlier today I decided to take a bit of a vacation from Twitter throughout the weekend. That should be easy enough to accomplish. Instead of looking at that application I’m going to focus my attention on old school blogging. Getting back into the habit of sitting down and collecting my thoughts at the end of the day could be a great thing to do for the next few days. Maybe after all those thoughts are collected I’ll be able to capture a wellspring of adventure.
Maybe it would be a better strategy to just write short blog posts instead of posting to social media. I existed for years without social media and it was fine. Walking to the mall was a thing that happened. People had snacks at the food court. Nobody took any photos of that experience. It just sort of happened. I have a vivid memory of standing in a basement and listening to the album Bleach by Nirvana. We just listened to the music and nobody posted a single thing about it. Things were just different and I’m not entirely sure it was not better. Maybe it is some type of nostalgia or maybe social media is just not all that social these days. At the start of the blogging adventure I read blogs and knew people from their writing. It was different and more personal. Even some meetups happened with people getting together to talk about writing in person. That is probably something that I actually do miss. Getting together with a bunch of writers at some random bar or restaurant probably is something I should have appreciated more at the time.
This little bit of a post is really just about my thoughts related to shifting back over to engaging in more long form writing and giving up micro blogging. I mean really most of my writing efforts would probably just be 500 word blocks of prose that were created in the moment and published without a whole lot of editing or revision. Literally, I just open a word process document and write for a bit before cutting and pasting that content over to be published out to a weblog. In this case, it gets published out to my weblog.
You can certainly catch my weblog post feed and it still functions in the same way it always has. The latest post is at the top and you can read on to see what happened before. It has no real continuity between posts or anything that would really make it more connected than it having to be shared in the order in which it was written. Each blog post is effectively followed by another one and that goes on for hundreds of them. Ok that does not really tell the story of it going on for thousands of them spanning decades of content.