2018: Day 5 of 365 writing 3,000 words per day
Word count 11,182 of 1,000,000
Right now in this moment my will to write is limited. Sometimes getting started is as simple as opening my Chromebook and starting at a blank word processing document for a few minutes. Today was one of those weird days. Things felt a little bit rushed. They felt a little bit out of sorts. Traveling for such long periods of time can take a toll on you. I’m thinking about getting my bag packed. For a few minutes today I started searching the Timbuk2 website for large size command messenger bags. My current bag is a medium size messenger bag. Everything fits into the bag, but I’m pretty much at the limit. Throughout this trip the bag has been full.
Without question I have been happy with my last two Timbuk2 messenger bags. I even purchased one for Joni. Running out of space is really a function of the gear I travel with constantly increasing. Writing using my Asus Flip C101P Chromebook has been pretty easy. Charging with the USB Type-C cable has made things much easier. The screen seems to be nicer and the overall device runs smoother. I could really tell a difference when watching video on Netflix. Before starting this writing session I wrote down 5 topics to cover on a piece of paper. That is probably going to be a key part of my writing journey this year. Naturally, it would be easy to sit down and write a series of 3,000 word open letters. Each one would probably stand alone, but that would not help build a rock solid narrative that would be interesting enough to sustain my writing journey throughout 1,000,000 words.
Maybe it will be easy to sustain a format that involves opening with a few paragraphs and then moving into a series of 5 topic based vignettes. That type of rigor will help break down the writing effort into manageable chunks each day. My goal for this first week as to really get into the practice of daily writing. It is much easier to sit down and ponder things. Even talking out loud sometimes feels easier than sitting down to write long form prose. For me it is about getting into a solid and sustained writing mode where my thoughts are easily translated to a written form. Maybe it should be effortless and free flowing. That happens from time to time. It is amazing just how much fun it is to engage in pure free form writing.
Today was one of those days that just a few moments of being creative is enough to shake things up. It is possible that sorting this year of prose autobiographically is a nod to the movie High Fidelity (2000). That realization came to me today in the middle of writing this epic paragraph of stand along prose. This work of prose really is intended to be read from start to finish just as it was written from start to finish from January to December of the same year. This could very well end up being the longest work of collected words I even end up putting together. I am highly competitive so it who knows if I would ever try to beat my previous big year writing goal. Setting a new personal best record for words created in a year seems reasonable. The reasonableness of the whole thing breaks down as you approach 1,000,000 words.
Topic 1: Wring for 30 minutes in pure silence
Ok. It has finally happened. The mute button on the television has been pressed. Sure the screen is still showing the news, but no sounds are being made. I can hear somebody next door doing something that sounds like picking things up and putting things down. Maybe they are packing or unpacking a suitcase. Outside my window the sounds of the city never really stop. Living downtown or staying downtown involves getting used to the sounds of the city. Traffic runs by and you can hear engines and other sounds. Sometimes sirens or horns pierce all of the other sounds to jump to the forefront of your thoughts. For me it is always the sounds of the wind that catch my attention. Focusing on the world around me is one of the reasons that listening to music or television helps me focused. It helps ground me to the moment and it helps me stay in my writing zone.
Something about absolute silence mixed with a soundtrack of a busy city have always caused my mind to wonder. Daydreaming in the middle of a writing sessions is inherently problematic and leads to disjointed and otherwise useless prose. Producing an endless string of thoughts could really drive us in any direction. That is the pure joy of writing. You can think about or imagine anything and bring it to life on the page. I’m waiting until after the 7th day of my 2018 writing project to start brining any short stories into the fold. I felt like the first 20,000 words should be devoted to the process of ramping up my writing routine.
Ugh. I just stopped writing to check my email for a minute or two. That did not need to happen. I should have stayed focus on the task at hand. That task is to produce 3,000 words for the day and pack my bag to go home. This week involved more travel than usual. In fact the extra travel days pushed me toward having to check a bag. That was actually a very good thing during my last flight. The overhead bin space on the airplane was highly limited. My regular Timbuk2 roller bag would not have fit. The bigger bag that I brought with me this would would not have come close to fitting. You may recall from some of my earlier notes this week that the airplane this week was truly uncomfortable. I’m hoping that maybe it was just the seat and that this next flight will be more comfortable.
You can squeeze a lot more out of 30 minutes of writing than you might think. Sit down and pick up your pen and try to write for thirty minutes straight. Getting used to typing for 30 minutes straight is really an interesting thing to figure out. This ASUS Flip C101P Chromebook has a decent keyboard, but the process of typing for 30 straight minutes can be taxing. You have to make sure you are sitting in a comfortable position and that you are not straining anything. Today most of this written session happened while laying down and staying completely still. I just had to remind myself not to pick up the remote and turn back on the volume. Distractions are very easy to encounter and awfully hard to avoid.
We are closing in on getting to the halfway point for the day and we are only on writing topic number one. That probably means that we will be able to hit the goal for today and still have some room for improvement. Deciding what to do with the time we have is a very important part of life. My commitment to spend a large part of my 2018 year writing is a conscious choice and something that I feel is very important. This topic did not hold my attention for 30 straight minutes.
Topic 2: I’m hopeful that during my flight inspiration will strike
Sometimes writing on an airplane can yield some good results. You really have to sit down and commit to writing. I throw on my Bose Qc35 wireless headphones and spin up some music. Keep in mind that for me listening to music is about experiencing an album from start to finish. I listen to the music in the way the artist intended in pure album form. That means I have about an hour or so to start typing aware before the music stops. Writing in one hour spurts can produce interesting prose. Most of the time in the past I have taken the time to collect my thoughts about life, the universe, and well everything. Those great deep think pieces are about trying to grab the universe by the soul and make sense out of everything.
From time to time writing on an airplane can be hard. Sometimes you just do not feel like writing. In those cases, I have found that working on producing segments of an article of non-fiction book to be a more reasonable thing to accomplish. That can be problematic without an active internet connection. My Chromebook does not contain my complete works in digital form. They are stored within the cloud. A cloud that is only accessible via an internet connection. Sometimes you just have to go old school and break out the pen and paper. My digital archives contain a number of half finished books, essays, and other works of non-fiction.
Some of them will one day get completed and some of them are just awful false starts that will apparently reside within the cloud. I did spend some time today thinking about the structure of posts on my weblog. They are presented in reverse chronological order from newest to oldest. That makes sense for a weblog, but it is the opposite way of how I intended this 1,000,000 writing effort to be consumed. Within my standard weblog structure people will always be exposed to the latest prose vs. being able to to start from the beginning. It will probably be prudent at some point during the process to present the content in the right way.
Writing one paragraph at a time seems to be how this night is going. I seem to be writing one good paragraph and pausing for a minute or two or getting distracted. That tells me that i’m not building toward a meaningful goal. Writing with a purpose might help guide my prose toward something that will deliver a meantiful message. At the moment that message seems to be that writing for two hours per day seems to produce a lot of content about writing for two hours per day. I’m sure that things will pick up as I get used to writing at this clip for a sustained period of time. Maybe by the end of next week I will have hit my stride and we will start work on writing either a collection of short stories of a book made up of lengthy 3,000 word chapters.
Topic 3: Figuring out 6:00 AM
My alarm went off 45 minutes ago. Things happened in the last 45 minutes. Writing was not one of those things. This cup of coffee sitting next to me is acceptable. The flavor is not outstanding, but it does not taste watered down or burnt. This room has a strange little table in front of the small 2 seat sofa. It probably is meant to replace the desk layout within the room with a sofa and working table configuration. That layout change makes sense. I wonder just how much time people spend sitting at desks in hotel rooms each day. This first part of my day always unfolds rather slowly. Coffee helps. I’m pretty much ready to go and on my way after defeating this first hour or so each day.
Here is what I have learned in 5 days of endeavoring to write 3,000 words per day. The first 1,000 words normally happen like they would have any other day of my writing career. From the 1,500 mark to the 2,000 word mark a slow down period occurs where things do not generally go very well or very quickly. My second wing from 2,000 words to whatever the day ends at seems to either happen effortless or to draft out. My writing output does seem to be very bimodal. It is either fast or slow, but I do not seem to have a gear in the middle between the two.
Topic 4: Writing a leadership book
Maybe this second cup of coffee is working. I’m already thinking about writing a leadership book this year. One of the things that I have been working on drafting involves a biographical pass of my college experience mixed with some of my thoughts on education in general. That may or may not be an interesting thing to work on next week. This week I spent some time thinking about a sketch of a leadership book. All of the data driven ways to manage a workforce came to the forefront in the last decade. Some newer insights related to more qualitative methods to review a workforce are starting to appear in dashboards and infographics. People can now mix together qualitative and quantitative key performance indicators with ease. The real question would be how people are using things generated by AI and big data to lead. I think that type of leadership will end up generating a new wave of leadership books. Mixing those kind of concepts and talking about how to deal with the current changes in the workforce and economy in general could produce some very interesting reads.
Dr. Nels Lindahl
San Antonio, Texas
Written on a ASUS Flip Chromebook C101P using Google Docs
P.S. Today involved a lot of travel. Sometimes traveling helps inspire most excellent prose and other times it does not.
Upcoming 2018 Writing Topics:
— My thoughts on getting an education
— Recap of all the video camera equipment I have owned
— All the promise and failures of my first Sony camcorder
— That one with a roadtrip to Florida
— Applied AI: A use case based exploration
— My ode to minor league hockey
— Progress within general AI vs. specialized use cases
— My review of the ASUS C101P Chromebook
— On leadership and the modern workplace
— Short story “The Knock”
Feel free to leave topic suggestions in the comment section.