On the subject of long-form prose

My plan still involves writing about a new topic every day. That will probably remain the plan for some time. However, the long-term plan has been tweaked. All writing efforts moving forward will be focused on producing long-form prose. For example, yesterday the topic of the day was household technology. My first pass at that topic only produced about 1,000 words. I’m going to have to revisit the topic and rewrite parts of it and expand others. That additional effort will help push that passage of prose to over 1,500 words.

Writing long form essays requires a certain degree of passion and persistence. At some point, I want to transition into producing either audio or video content. That type of interest in other mediums seems to pop up from time to time. My last podcast only existed for a few weeks and then essentially disappeared. That might happen again this year at some point. Understanding or forecasting what creative outlet will come into focus never seems to be a good idea. Those other mediums might end up being a secondary creative outlet.

Things are about to change. I am going to force the issue by setting a strict publishing standard of 1,500 to 2,500 words for any weblog post. That standard would dramatically change the way I write. It is a necessary change. Writing a sub 500 word post takes a few minutes and can generally be facilitated via stream of consciousness writing. It just happens. That mode of writing is devoid of planning. Moving to a 1,500 word standard would require a more targeted, focused, and organized approach to writing. That type of rigor could enhance my writing routine. It could be a real step forward.

Everyone has a unique set of knowledge, skills, and abilities. Our experiences change the way we interpret the world around us. I took a step back and started to think about how my knowledge, skills, and abilities are being used every day. I started to assess my potential vs. my current contributions. My recent contributions to the world have not been game changing. I could do more. I should be doing more. On a go forward basis, I need to put in some real effort and make sure my routine helps focus my efforts on doing more. I am hoping that the move to longer form prose will help focus my efforts on more meaningful endeavors. You would have to be incredibly word economic to write a game changing 500 word essay. The argument would have to be game changing, exceedingly elegant, and the prose would have to be very concise.

I could probably write more than 1,500 words related to taking the time to pick the right flight. That is probably not the best use of my time. That type of inquiry would be interesting, but it would probably fall short of being meaningful. For example, writing about how most of the time my airline flight tbooking happens in the afternoon is not very inspiring. It may not resonate with anyone that for some reason in the afternoon it always seems like a good idea to book the earliest flight. Within my world view that pattern of behavior seems very unacceptable this morning. That pattern of behavior does not really tell a compelling story.

I should probably abandon this narrative thread and move on, but that is probably not going to happen. I’m going to continue writing about how earlier this week my flight started boarding at 5:30 AM mountain time. That piece of information setts the state for why I elected to carry my bag on and try to make it to the gate with no time to spare. I actually made it to the gate just after 5:30 AM. I was the last “A” group passenger to board the airplane before the “B” group passengers filled out the baggage racks. On most Southwest Airlines flights the entire “A” group will have overhead bin space. At some point during the boarding process, members of the B group will face a sudden and definite shortage of overhead storage space. It happens pretty much every flight.

Writing longer passages of prose will inevitably involve creating better transitions and pivoting into asides. For example, the bag I took on my flight was a recent acquisition. I picked up a Timbuk2 copilot rolling luggage bag. Picking up a Timbuk2 messenger style bag was a solid purchase. It fits in the aisle seat under chair space on a Boeing 737. The Amazon website provided the best price on the bag. It is lightweight and rugged. The wheels are really quiet on tile vs. the sounds I would expect from rolling my previous bags throughout the country. For the most part I am replacing all of my luggage with Timbuk2 products. I have previously written a review (that is still valid) of my Timbuk2 messenger bag.

Writing about luggage should provide a large enough spectrum of things to keep me occupied. At this point, I must be out of practice. Writing is a habit that has to be nurtured and developed. During the entire flight from Denver to Phoenix I only produced about 1,000 words of prose. That level of output would not meet my new standards for production. Adopting a stance geared toward the construction of longer form prose should also provide additional opportunities for editing my work. Writing for 20 minutes straight then publishing without any editing is probably not the best method to generate readable prose.

Right now it may change my publishing rate for every other day to a few times a week. Taking the time to writing longer pieces of prose is an investment. It is an investment that could pay huge dividends moving forward. I need to me more selective on what I focus on producing. This particular post could be a key turning point. It could be the moment in time when my focus and dedication to my craft start to translate into meaningful and insightful prose. However, it has the potential to just cause my production levels to falter.

Writing a minimum of 1,500 words per topic will require a better selection process for what receives attention. The clouds outside the airplane window are beautiful. The horizon is covered with a larger of clouds that could really hold my attention. Over the years, I have gotten used to looking at the countryside from 35,000 feet. Acceptance of that can of beauty should not diminish any inherent aesthetic value, but inherently the constant presence of that type of beauty starts to diminish our appreciation of it. We accept the world around us and focus on other details.

The things we choose to focus on are incredibly important. For most people one principle interest or focus will come to the forefront of their thoughts. It receives far more attention than anything else in our lives. That reality defines just how important it is to ensure that the right things come to the forefront of the public mind. Right now a snow covered mountain peak just caught my attention. In about 2 minutes it will no longer be in my line of sight. It caught my attention and it was appreciated. It was appreciated up until the moment that the album I was listening to ended. The sounds of the jet engines brought my attention back to picking a new album to listen to and continuing to write.

A daytime flight from Phoenix to Denver involves traveling over a number of mountains. Depending on the weather the views can be absolutely breathtaking. I spend a lot of time up in the air. Views of snow covered mountains from an airplane window are one of the few things that strike me as extremely beautiful during a flight. That might be a point of personal preference or it could be something that is generally accepted as being true. I’m not worried about that distinction at the moment. At the moment, I’m worried about making a solid contribution to the world. This passage of prose and the time that it took to create it was probably well spent.

Airplane window view of the Rocky Mountains
Airplane window view of the Rocky Mountains

Finding larger blocks of time to write will be challenging. Writing a few hundred words is easy. Spending more than 30 minutes writing at time is more challenging. I am going to need to pick a time to write and stick to that schedule. That is my plan. It could end up being a great plan. This cloud be a real turning point.

Working on 1,500+ word articles will inevitably lead to a backlog of ideas. It may be prudent to close each passage of prose with a listing of the next 5 topics understand consideration. The list could be dynamic. The list would not have to be the same each time. It could be a snapshot of a dynamic and constantly evolving list. My interests change from time to time. It would be very problematic to adopt a one out one list of future projects. I think it would be valuable to sign post and really think about keeping a project list. Time needs to be invested in the right projects verses whatever seems to be in the now.

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