With me: print life

Blah-blah Blog Post — Getting It Out

No more excuses, I’m publishing this.  This is a post about getting it done; something to help me write.  Something to help get over writer’s block.

I enjoy writing, and I think it’s helps me to be better organized.  When I started working for TOPP, we were encouraged to blog, which is one of the things I like about working here.  (The wild, swinging from the rafter, parties aren’t so bad either.)  Great policy, but it only helped me to keep up blogging for about five minutes (10 if you count a drunken blog post about Calimocho).  The funny thing is that I’ve always wanted to write more, and I’ve often wanted to come back and just do it.

Well, I finally found my voice this summer, and started posting about more technical issues.  (Not that I’ve been prolific.  Unless you count my drafts folder.)  I’ve done some blogging on this site as well as a couple of the work blogs, and I’m really looking forward to a guest post for my favorite political blog, Digifesto.

However, like anyone trying to start a new habit, especially one in an area of non-expertise, I found excuses not to write, or I’d start and never finish.  I knew this was going to happen.  It’s pretty well known that writing is not easy, especially keeping it up regularly.  I’d thought I’d be clever by getting started on a couple of downtime posts.  That way, when I hit a slowdown, I could just pick one and finish it.  It turns out for me, however, having a bunch of unfinished posts wasn’t helping.  When I got to a tough point in a post, I’d turn away, or start a new draft for later.  All of that “unfinished” work started to drag on me, and 50 pounds of blog posts really make your muscles sore.

Well, this is a kick in my pants.  Each line you read is one giant boot to my tookus.  (You’re still reading?  Kind of cruel, don’t you think?  What does that say about you?)

Well, I recently finished reading Pragmatic Thinking and Learning, a book about personal productivity (Thanks, Whit!).  (It’s by the same authors as The Pragmatic Progammer, which you might be familiar with.)  Something they spend a considerable amount of ink on (and carriage returns) is how to focus, and how to transition mentally from the part of your mind that sticks up roadblocks to the part that really flows and has the great ideas.

Inside is the story of a client they were trying to get started with morning writing.  (It’s a tool to harness some of the great ideas that you have and forget about, or just plain ignore.) He thought the exercise was a bit ridiculous, and so couldn’t get anything written down.  They told him to just fill a couple of pages with nonsense sentences (Blah blah blah, I’m writing a sentence) to get over the mental block.  Well, it took him a couple of weeks, but he started having some great ideas and got to actually writing.

Luckily for me, I’m not fighting this quite so overtly, but I still seem to get in my own way.  That’s why I’ve decided to take the same advice every time I want to blog.  This post started with a couple of notes (since I already had the topic) but each time I got blocked, I just wrote down a couple of paragraphs of nonsense (Blah blah, software bugs are good, people like using Windows, etc.).  It didn’t matter if I just didn’t have any ideas, or something interrupted my train of thought. I kept belting it out, and managed to make it all the way through.

So, here it is. I hope you find the idea useful as well.