Writing More Again

I haven't really written very much in the past six months or more, and while I think I've done cool things and learned about cool things,

Let me take that back. I haven't written anything in a sustained sort of way that wasn't for work. Hell, even what I've been doing for work has been smaller and more tactical. Unfortunately you don't write books, or book-like-objects as small tactical approaches.

So I've been trying to figure out how to get back to that. It's about rhythm more than anything. If you approach time management for log-form rationally, there's never enough time, so you have to make time, and trick yourself into writing and figure out how to make a little progress on a regular

As someone who definitely tends towards binge writing (and who doesn't) remembering to write a little bit on a regular basis is hard and nearly counter intuitive. So as I've been attempting to restart the writing habit, I've been thinking about what I've done in the past that's worked to keep up the momentum and work on projects. I've uncovered:

Reading

Even more important, I think, than reestablishing a habig of writing regularly, is restablishing the practice of reading regularly. I often get hung up on the fact that I don't think I'm a very fast or very through reader. But reading is quite inspiring, and I often find that the more I read, the more I want to write.

So I've been reading the Vorkosigan novels, and it's been great.

Tracking Word Counts

I like having some record of my progress, and I've taken different approaches to tracking progress, mostly using word counts, over time.

When you're writing longer pieces, particularly in editors that don't reflect word counts or page numbers in the interface, it's easy to loose context for how much progress you're making.

Way back when, I used to record the current page and word count for all of my projects in a note boot, and this developed into a rather incurable tick to mash a few keys down every few sentences to check the word count. Then, three years ago, I wrote a script to check the word count of all my projects on a regular interval.

I stopped really using it about a year ago, because the script handled different branches (in git) of the same project really poorly, and there wasn't a good way to hack that in.

So I recently rewrote this program, and I rather like it. I'll post more about it soon.

Physical Activity and Care

To do writing one definitely needs to spend a serious amount of time in front of a computer typing. Unless you really like notebooks and pens, there's no other way to get things written.

But you can't take this to the extreme: if all you do is sit in front of your computer and stare at cursor waiting for inspiration to strike. As people we need different kinds of focus, and different kinds of experiences, on the small scale, to keep the generative impulses functional. [1]

Reading voraciously, as above, is a key part of being able to write effectively, but other kinds of activity are also useful. When I'm not writing, my first instinct is to try and find more time to write, but sometimes--often--what I need more is more time for things that aren't writing: exercise, reading, and so forth.

I've started to do yoga, as I've written before, a few times a week. I need to also remember to set aside time for other non-writing activities: more exercise, walks, dinners with friends, dates with my email backlog, etc.

Onward and Upward!

[1]I like the idea of generative impulses rather than creative muscles. Writing isn't always creative, but it is, like any other kind of production, work, and always requires energy and effort.
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