Working along on some writing projects

Yesterday I spent some time finishing up my week 52 post for The Lindahl Letter. This morning I gave it another pass including some light editing and expansion. My weekend routine of writing posts on Saturday morning and editing the post the next day during my Sunday morning writing adventures has been working out well enough. This last time around I waited till the very end of the writing process and moved all of the content over to a word processing document template setup for publishing. I’m not sure if this time around I should figure out a way to just write into the template and begin with the end in mind. The problem with that strategy is that the final product won’t include all the weekly links to videos and Tweets. To get to that point the content would have to be more embedded into the post in the form of ongoing prose instead of broken out a section of links. Unfortunately, sections of links do not translate very well to a manuscript. They are more suited to a weekly newsletter format where clicking digital links is the outcomes of the process instead of an archival purpose. 

Things to do this weekend:

  1. Finish week 52 of The Lindahl Letter for 1/21 publication
  2. Final review and publish on Upper Bound Chronicles eBook
  3. Review and publish on Dream Chaser Archives eBook
  4. Start edit of United Earth Chronicles
  5. Begin work on Older Essay’s Assembled eBook

End of year projects

Week 46 of The Lindahl Letter came out on Friday and this weekend I started really deeply working on the posts for the rest of the year. The posts for the rest of the year have enough of a draft completed that they could go out right now and things would be ok… things would not be epic or even really acceptable at this point, but the foundation exists and that is a start. My weekend writing efforts have to be kicked up a notch here going forward. It looks like I may need to start working on a presentation for 2022 as well. I’m going to follow up on that one and figure out exactly how many minutes of coverage will be required.

Working on manuscript updates

My writing schedule has been updated for Sunday on a go forward basis. The schedule now includes a morning writing session to review my Substack post and work on academic articles for 1-3 hours, publishing a note on LinkedIn about the last Substack post, and sending a Tweet about my last Substack post. Working within that writing schedule will probably help increase the readership of the newsletter. To pick up my subscribers the content is going to need to be posted to Twitter and to LinkedIn. This week I even elected to login to my highly dormant Facebook account to share the link. 

Over the last two months my writing productivity has really plummeted. That is something that needs to be rectified here one day at a time. Reversing a trend like that is just about spending the time at the keyboard to write larger blocks of prose. I have a manuscript in progress that is entitled, “On Machine Learning: The Lindahl Letters of 2021.” I’m going to publish my entire set of 2021 Substack posts in one long manuscript format. All of the content has been put into a basic manuscript draft and I’m currently working on starting at the beginning and reworking the content from start to finish before publication. This is one of those things that I’m probably going to need to send to my editor before final publication. Right now the manuscript is about 165 pages long, but that could easily get longer before publication. 

Earlier this morning I just could not manage to get back into the flow of writing. A trip to the donut store and a stop to get some coffee happened, but a bunch of time writing never occurred. Getting back on schedule with a writing routine has to be my primary focus moving forward. Yesterday I created a draft post with two solid paragraphs of content. For some reason that was where my productivity stopped. I’m about to watch the Kansas City Chiefs game on Sunday night football. During that game my plan is to try to rework the content and get it ready for publication on Friday.

A busy Sunday writing day

Today was super productive in terms of writing. For some reason, I got up this morning and worked to take my Substucks and work toward getting them into a publishable format. That all started with a moment of introspection, “Right now I’m wondering if The Lindahl Letter newsletter currently published on Substack should be offloaded as a year one manuscript for publication. It would be pretty easy to just take the 52 posts and strip out the links/thoughts and Tweets sections.”[1] A few moments later a second thought occurred about the subject as well related to the possibility of switching up topics every year for a really deep research focus including 52 different inquiries. That one I’m not as sure about, but well over an hour was invested into formatting the The Lindahl Letter into a Microsoft Word document ready for publication via a book aggregation service that handles publishing across a multitude of platforms.

The advertising plan seemed a little bit sad after the first draft. It went a bit like this, “Sometimes when the internet is not working do you miss having a physical copy of The Lindahl Letter on your bookshelf?” Yeah, that did not seem compelling to me either. However, if that is something you were looking to have, then you can look forward to a publication of the one year manuscript. Right now the topic list is out to week 59 and I have a few more topics to transfer from my Google Keep files. That took the planned writing list out to week 65 which was a little bit better. I’m going to need to spend some time working on more topics to feed into the list. So far during the writing process the topics have sort of been generated in little spurts of creativity. 

Footnotes:

[1] At the moment, only 46 of the 52 posts are written and ready to go. Outside of that temporal problem the manuscript is mostly done.

Working into a bit of writing

I’m going to let this missive go out as a Tweet storm using the Twitter Thread feature today. Generally I have just allowed it to do a single Tweet which would allow people to get back to the weblog from Twitter via the link if they wanted to read that particular gem of intellectual audacity. Really they are mostly just my musings about the intersection of technology and modernity of the process of writing. 

Yesterday I constrained my writing session to blocks of 280 characters based on a Twitter limitation. A consequence of that constraining was that only 5 blocks of wonderful prose were created during the writing session. Some of them were pretty good, but a couple of them got stilted and otherwise sad. Trying to take an idea that was just written and then editing it down to the limit of 280 characters was really time consuming and just slowed down my entire writing process. My writing had no flow or effective path forward. Writing and them immediately editing that block of prose is not the way to go for my writing endeavors. For better or worse it is best to ride the winds of inspiration to produce prose and circle back when the winds calm down to edit after the point of inspiration. That is pretty much the best method for me to generate prose. Effectively that means opening a blank word processing document (Google Docs) and just typing until the need to type is done. A long time ago I used to really have to write before going to bed for the night. You could describe it as a bit of hypergraphia or the compulsion to write. 

All these ideas would show up and just sort of swirl around. At the time, I felt like they were all the most important things I could commit from inspiration to recorded prose. Being compelled to write really did end up taking a lot of sleep time and converting it to working time. Eventually over the course of writing millions of words my daily writing sort of morphed into something that happens in the morning instead of the evening. I wake up and in that foggy period of waking up and getting ready to go I work on writing until I do not want to write anymore. Maybe the mix of writing all day and working on academic things, Substack posts, and other projects has been the key to organizing my writing into a series of routines. I could end up with a better writing schedule beyond my reserved weekend morning writing blocks and sometimes a Friday evening block of time. Those times are usually enough to really dig in and do some academic work. To get that type of work done I need blocks of time that are uninterrupted and allow me to do deep work with a degree of focus that is beyond my other writing sessions. 

Given all of that previous argument above has been written and recorded, I have been working into a bit of writing for about thirty minutes now. A lot of my blogging content ends up being about the feeling and process of writing. I sit down and allow the stream of consciousness writing session to occur without any real control of it or reservations about it. To that end sometimes I end up with a bunch of process related content about writing and thinking about writing. You can find the other content being produced under separate cover based on academic articles and other types of content creation like Substack posts. At one point all of the content ended up floating around in the same stream and for me that worked out well enough as the whole process was to get things inflight for me out of intellectual curiosity.

Writing in Tweets

Maybe my weblog post today should be drafted in sections that are the length of a maximum Tweet at 280 characters. That will shrink my paragraphs by a lot for this post. I’m considering just composing a bunch of blocks and then posting them on Twitter as I write some prose today.

My writing plan to produce a Substack post each week has been working. Week 42 about time crystals has now been written and will go live in 6 days. In 10 weeks, I will have hit my goal to publish a weekly machine learning based post for an entire year. https://nelslindahl.substack.com/

Earlier this week I moved my office desk from my downstairs office. I did spend a majority of my time in that office sitting in my blue Scandinavian Design’s Wau desk chair. My desk and that chair are now upstairs for a few weeks. A majority of my time will now be spent upstairs.

My internet modem is now upstairs. I was worried that the gigabit speed would be diminished by the house wiring vs. a direct run to my office. Comparatively the speed loss was 20% from the top end. That is acceptable for now. My plan in a few weeks is to move back to my office.

Editing the idea I want to communicate from each paragraph down to 280 characters really slows down my writing output. Maybe it will help me be more word economic and succinct go forward. My writing is not really overly wordy to begin with so editing down requires real effort.

Just a few thoughts

Things are going well enough today on the writing front. I got up and had my two shots of espresso from my Nespresso Expert machine. They were resplendent. Working through the latest edition of “The Lindahl Letter” took about an hour of really focused creative effort. 

I’m considering adding a page to the old weblog with my writing schedule. At the moment, my writing schedule for the week looks like this:

  • Sunday: Morning writing session to review my Substack post and work on academic articles for 1-3 hours
  • Monday: AM or PM writing session for 30 minutes to create a weblog post. Publish a note on LinkedIn about the last Substack post
  • Tuesday: AM or PM writing session for 30 minutes to create a weblog post
  • Wednesday: AM or PM writing session for 30 minutes to create a weblog post
  • Thursday: AM or PM writing session for 30 minutes to create a weblog post
  • Friday: AM or PM writing session for 30 minutes to create a weblog post
  • Saturday: Morning writing session to write a Substack post and work on academic articles for 1-3 hours

You may have noticed that the time for consideration on that one is done. I went ahead and made a page for my writing schedule. It was exciting and now it is online.

Trying to refocus

Overall my plan to put the smartphone down and not keep it with me all the time is working out pretty well. That vtech “Connect to Cell” system works well enough as an extended headset to my Google Pixel 5 smartphone that it is almost like a house phone. It is sort of weird to hear phone calls ringing throughout the entire house again like the days of yore when land lines were a common household feature. 

The vast majority of the application alerts and notices that I spent all day clearing out are not necessary. A lot of unnecessary attention was going to that smartphone each day and that was easy enough to stop. For the next couple of days I have planned time off that could be spent writing and working on a few things. 

Today I picked back up and worked a little bit on my week 30 Substack post. It needed a little bit of refinement and rework to be ready for Friday. Intellectually I know that I should spend a few minutes on the next few posts and get them into suitably completed drafts. Initially I was able to work ahead a little bit more than what is happening now, but for some reason that process broke down and I am just working on one week at a time. If the content being produced was real time, then that would make sense as an approach. The content is however planned out weeks in advance making it much easier to produce drafts in a queue instead of working in real time to be timely based on the news of the day. Maybe that is the key to unlocking a different type of content at some point in the future. I have considered turning the weekly Substack post into both a YouTube video and a weekly podcast. I’m actually curious what has stopped me from turning the first 30 weeks of content into multimedia formats. It is probably some type of weird nostalgia for the written newsletters of the past.

Getting really focused and locking in to write for a prolonged period of time seems to be illusive. I’m able to focus on topics and complete work, but I’m struggling with really spending hours working on the same thing. That is something that is going to need to be remedied before longer form prose and projects are going to get done. Part of that is just being able to sit and type for a sustained burst of 30 minutes without shifting around and working on different things. Even right now Rocky the dog is trying to distract me with growls at a reflection in the glass of the door. It is way before sunrise right now and nobody is stirring in the house. Right now is the time for me to write and for Rocky the dog to hang out in my office.

Actualizing my stop doing list

Earlier this week I set up a vtech “Connect to Cell” system at the house. It basically connects to my smartphone via Bluetooth pretending to be a headset that is always connected. With that simple connection it is ready to answer calls and it rings at three different base stations throughout the house when I’m home with my smartphone. Setting up this system was pretty simple. It allows me to treat my cell phone like a home phone and leave it on the charging stand in my office. Part of this endeavor is to try to avoid touching my smartphone for a longer period of time during the day. Checking the alerts and notifications on my phone dozens of times a day is not really a productive thing to do with my time and energy. It is something that I’m trying very hard to put on my stop doing list. The power of the stop doing list is in how it frees up your energy and effort to work on the to do part of the list. 

Every morning I wake up before the sunrise and try to focus all of my attention and efforts at the start of the day to the act of writing. Being a writer demands some type of routine that actively directs your energy towards the production prose. That is how my daily routine works. I focus all of my energy without any distractions on the act of writing. Sometimes a little bit of research or other activities creep into the mix, but for the most part the simple act of dancing on the keyboard is what happens and it really is the essence of what should happen. Thoughts are converted from that present point of view into keystrokes. Ideally that would happen for several pages of prose creation at a time, but for some reason it seems to end up being something that happens in about a single page serving at a time. During the course of writing and focusing on the idea at hand something will inevitably pull me out of the typing and creation process and that shift will cause a breakdown in further prose creation. It’s amazing how powerful shifting your focus can be at any given time. 

Generally in the background either YouTube or Pandora is playing something that occupies a little bit of my attention. Just enough of my attention to help keep me in the pocket of writing, but not enough to totally grab my attention away from the task at hand. Last week I pulled apart the Google Doc that houses all my Substack posts from “The Lindahl Letter” and started to convert it into a Microsoft Word document capable of being published as a book. This time around for that effort I landed on using a paper size of A5. That seemed like a good size to format the content into for this journey. Today I just finished work on the content that will go out on Friday titled, “Substack Week 30: Integrations and your ML layer.” I’m going to have to remove the links and Tweets sections of each post to make the content more inline with a traditional paper bound publication. Part of the joy of a newsletter format is that the content can include live links as the delivery mechanism goes to phones and computers where people can interact with the content and open links. A more traditional manuscript is not geared toward that level of interaction. It is something that will generally be read from start to finish without a bunch of outbound links to videos or other content. 

Oh yeah — I need to circle back to the process of writing weekly missives in “The Lindahl Letter” newsletter and how that will end up being a book. I have 52 topics selected and queued up as part of the writing process. That means based on the previous shared information the project currently stands at 30 of 52 chapters being completed. Working with that content to edit, refine, and rework it to be a great start to finish read is going to require moving the content from the Google Doc each week into a more manuscript friendly format. During the course of that process I’m also going to need to really focus on reworking and expanding some of the content to be more academic instead of the purely conversational tone of the weekly newsletter. I’m not going to remove all the personal touches and invocations of personality as that would make the final product less appealing to a reader, but some rework is going to be necessary to make the final product more polished. 

I’m not entirely sure at the moment where that manuscript is going to end up getting published. It is pretty easy to publish an eBook out in the market. I know how to do that without any assistance from a publisher or a literary agent. 

My attention shifted to working on a novel called “Else” that was started back in 2018. Right now the novel was really the length of a short story and it stopped after a couple thousand words. It’s weird to read something that was written years ago and pick up the writing style and tone. You have to be in the right mood to make something like that work out. It will probably be easy enough for somebody to figure out exactly what chapter the previous effort ended on and what chapter I picked up writing today. This is one of those stories that is going to be written from start to finish and then edited.

A very short writing session

Today had an oddly productive morning considering the number of disruptions that occurred. My dogs were unruly for some reason… I was able to round out the entire 52 weekly topic list for “The Lindahl Letter” Substack series. For better or worse that seems to have exhausted the things I want to write about at the moment. It has been a very tactical morning in terms of blocking and tackling a few digital housekeeping matters. I kept trying to turn my focus into a strategic direction with some focus on some type of philosophy. Unfortunately, that effort seems to have failed at the moment. This could end up being a very short single paragraph writing session.