Earlier today I started thinking about trying to write one million words in 2020. It seems like a good idea. Making that happen will probably involve abandoning my current journey into binge watching The West Wing on Netflix. Instead of that effort, I probably need to start writing outlines to be ready for that big old million word writing effort. It would be a big year. A truly big writing year. That might be enough to sell me on trying to make it happen again.
The folks over at Google have indicated that while no more tablets are forthcoming at some point a new Pixelbook will arrive. That new Pixelbook will probably be my next mobile computing device. That is exciting. For a long time (really since the first Pixelbook came out), I have wanted to get a Pixelbook. I’m not entirely sure what benefit it will have to my writing productivity. Outside of that realization and in full acceptance of it, I still want to buy a Pixelbook. Maybe that is just one of those things that will eventually happen.
Earlier tonight I bought a copy of Ready Player One by Earnst Cline on audiobook from Google Play Books. I had no idea when the purchase was made that it was narrated by Wil Wheaton. During the first twenty minutes it has not been super distracting, but something about it is a bit distracting. It appears that Wil has narrated a lot of books. That is interesting to say the least. I’m a little bit surprised that tonight is the first time I have run into a book narrated by Wil. After another 20 minutes I have managed to start ignoring who is narrating the book and just consume the content. Listening to music probably is a better match for writing. Listening to an audiobook is typically not the best way to actively engage in writing some sweet sweet prose.
For years, everyday I have sat down and hammered out a few words. Sometimes those words are purely for myself and other times they are posted online. Honestly, most of my online writing is for myself. Really only my efforts to publish academic papers should be considered truly public facing words. Contributions to the broader academy that comprises the written tradition of academic thought are about giving back to that tradition. They are about making a contribution that moves things forward. Maybe recently the mass proliferation of academic publications has made it harder and harder for those contributions to be heard and shared. Perhaps the echo of academic thought has grown smaller in recent years. More and more it is the echo of popular culture on social media that effectively brings people together at scale. Even historically most academic publications had a small, but highly dedicated following of intellectuals that were interested in having and keeping a shared understanding of the world around them based on keeping tabs on the rich tradition of what was published within the academy.
Right now sitting next to me on my desk a copy of the Public Administration Review (PAR) needs to be read from cover to cover. For better or sometimes for the worse, the one academic journal that I have consistently read over the last 20 years is PAR. Sitting right on top of that journal are copies of Wired magazine and Data Science From Scratch by Grus. Those three publications probably reasonably encapsulate my current academic trajectory. Maybe that can help inform my daily writing cadence going forward. More likely than not, I will continue to generate highly functional journal entries and occasionally sit down to write long form articles. During the moments where being reasonable seems easy I might acknowledge that more of my time needs to be spent writing academic articles, but that is always easier to dream about than to actually muddle through. Hammering the keyboard to produce some prose is almost always going to be about either what has my attention at the moment or what I’m passionate about. It is a rare confluence of events where stream of consciousness writing ends up being academically publishable.
My computer setup includes a digital to analog converter that runs out to my Audioengine speakers. That includes a right and a left A5+ speaker. The same setup has an analog type switch that goes out to my record player. That means that any time I decide to spin up a record and listen in analog mode the sound on my computer is turned off. Maybe that is something that pauses the alerts and any other sounds that might be happening, but it also lets me focus in and really listen to the music and work on whatever needs my attention without interruption. Right now I’m listening to a Jimi Hendrix album called “Both sides of the sky” that was released last year.
Today I reverted to writing in my desktop version of Microsoft Word. Additionally, today was a day where it seemed like a good idea to shave my beard (well technically it was yesterday, but for dramatic purposes I’ll go with it). Your right that is a double whammy. Not only did I revert to writing in a desktop application, but also, I’m doing this writing today without a beard. That may or may not make a difference, but it changed my mood and how I relate with the world. Seriously, it has been over a year since the last time the wind hit my face directly. From time to time I can feel the cold hitting my face. That is a real thing and it is somewhat unsettling. Maybe that is enough to get going and to get writing at a higher clip. Sometimes getting outside of your comfort zone can help ramp up the words.