Home > Uncategorized > Why’s it gotta be that way?

Why’s it gotta be that way?

I’ve been giving some thought recently to this blog post, which begins:

Someone has pointed out to me that I have a blog, and that I haven’t posted to it in an unacceptably long time. He’s right. So here’s a post.

And ends:

OK, that wasn’t so hard. I’ll have to see if I can make a habit of this.

Now, if I remember the conversation that spurred this blog post correctly, it also involved me lamenting the fact that GNO Central is so often topped with a list of my five most recent posts — it could be more, but the limit is five posts per blog.

This occurrence, which I’ve privately come to refer to as “GNO-Bombing,” is not infrequent for this blog, given that I do my very best to keep a constant stream of content flowing. This is largely due to an approach to this blog that is not unlike Jonathan Coulton’s approach to his Thing a Week project. Essentially, I do my best to make sure that content gets out three times a week (Monday/Wednesday/Friday), even if I don’t think it’s particularly all that great. As I, and Mr. Coulton, have discovered, a lot of the stuff that you don’t think is worth releasing can turn out to be better through the lens of history and not nearly as dismal as you once thought.

Then again, there are some other posts, such as my post about the Screen Savers, which end up burning you out. And I’ve taken that in stride. I took a break, and let it last as long as it needed, but when it was done, I was back, with three posts per week. But the point is that you get something written.

For this, I find myself drawing on my previous life as a professional writer. I learned, by necessity, from that job to just let your mind go while you’re writing. Just as Asimov usually started writing without a clear destination, some of my best writings have come from taking an idea and exploring it in words. If I might be allowed a bit of meta-analysis, this blog post is a perfect example.

But also from my days writing for a paycheck I find that I have gained two abilities that enhance this space even further. The first is word limits. More than any English class, it was article writing that taught me how to pace a piece based on your target length (in words). For example, according to Word Press’ super-handy word-counter, I’m at word 427. That means I have about 75 words to my goal, which should be enough to make this last point and wrap up. Why 500? It’s easy to hit and I find it makes a nice length for a topic without stretching it. (Actually, it looks like I’m going to overshoot it this time, which always makes me happy.)

The other trick I learned was constant searching for good material. In the context of writing articles, it took the form of notes I often scribbled about a certain topic, on the chance that I got assigned an article on that topic. That way, whenever I got handed an assignment, I was rarely without some basis of research for writing about the topic.

In the context of writing a blog, it is more like thinking as though you have a friend with whom you love to have intellectual conversations. Pretty much any time you think, “That’s interesting. I should really tell _________ about this,” where ________ is any person you know, you have a candidate for a blog post. For example, my recent post on the topic of Nintendo Wiis came out of a thought about what a fascinating conversation I could have with my father on the topic, if I were to throw out the news items I linked to in conversation.

This does have one obvious downside, though: crazy inventor syndrome. That’s where you’re drifting off to sleep and you get a great idea for a blog post and have to scramble in the dark to scribble it down before dozing off and losing the idea forever. I’ve also run in to the same thing at both school and work, where usually the closest notation device is used, which widely varies from Sticky Notes to an entire forearm covered in ideas and notes too precious to let slip. You’ll also probably find yourself doing this a lot.

Oh, and one last thing that is probably the most important thing to take away from all of this: pace yourself. I release three posts a week, with an occasional fourth if I have enough good links to make a Good Point. This means that if I write four good blog posts in 48 hours, I can take a week off. As it happens, that is exactly what happened with the time immediately before the writing of this post. Although the calendar currently says December 18, I’m about to change the timestamp so that this is published on … well, whenever you see it.

I say this is so very important because I find it so very painful to see blogs like this one who have three posts in 24 hours, and then nothing for over a month.

I hope that helps.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. December 27, 2007 at 3:34 am

    Geez. Put me on the spot, why dontcha?

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