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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What makes my writing happen

As my list of posts has grown, I've been getting one question more often: how frequently do I write these posts? Do I actually write them every day, or do I have a cache of these things queued up for later publishing? Today, I'll share some "secrets".

First, most of these posts are written just minutes before they go live. Once I decide what I want to write about, I'll jump into my favorite editing environment and get cracking. I tend to ignore my phone and IM conversations during this time, but not obsessively. Some posts have been written in parallel with ongoing conversations, and more than a couple are a direct result of chatting with a friend.

Once in a great while, I'll write a post and then decide it's better suited for the next day. This might happen if the current day is already well-covered in terms of content. I'll hold it over a few hours and post it on the next day. All of this is relative to my local time here on the left coast, naturally.

I think the deepest my "already written" queue has ever gotten is two days. This was back during my C++ project series in January. Sometimes, I'd find myself in a groove and would just roll straight into writing the next post. Obviously I didn't want to drop all of them on the same day, so they'd be "scheduled" for later in the week.

Now, this is not meant to imply that all of my posts come entirely from thin air mere minutes before they go live. Instead, I have a pile of notes which collect various subject matters and other ideas in embryonic states. A simple one-liner like "DVI hardware virus" is all I really need most of the time.

Some of these entries marinate on that list for a good long time before finally seeing the light of day, and a few of them may never turn into full posts. A lot of this has to do with how I'm feeling on any given day and whether it might line up with things which have been happening lately.

Having a string of daily posts can be a serious motivating factor. When it's 8 PM and there hasn't been a post yet, you can be sure that my priorities start shifting away from other things and onto making this happen. It actually becomes easier to make time and make it happen at some point in the evening.

People sometimes also ask me how they should get started doing their own thing. I just recommend picking a venue and start writing something meaningful every day. It doesn't really matter where it is or what it looks like, as long as people can get to it and read your writing. It's also not a big deal if nobody sees it right away. Eventually, you will have an audience, and your older posts will be read.

Have you ever encountered a brilliant new web comic and then proceeded to inhale all of its archives to "catch up"? If you start writing, the people who enjoy your stuff will do exactly that. It won't matter if your oldest posts have been sitting around for a while. If they like what you're doing, they'll be happy to have it available.

Incidentally, for those of you who wonder what the workload would be to catch up at this point, there are 666 posts prior to this one in the web archives, or about 2.2 MB in raw unformatted input data. You might want to bring a lunch.