Tag: 750words

Fresh Starts and Old Farts

As you can probably tell by the history/calendar links on the right hand side of this blog, I’ve been on a blogging hiatus for quite some time now. I’ve had all the best of intentions for getting some new posts on here about Life, The Universe, and Everything, but I’ve ended up putting other items as a higher priority, and this site just fell into the cracks between other things I’ve been working on. I’ve been posting some stuff on Tumblr, but that’s more of a stream-of-consciousness and quips-as-I-think-of-them activity, not the longer, more in-depth posts that I’ve been meaning to write. So, after listening to Merlin Mann and his Back to Work podcast, where he talks about why resolutions suck and why most people set themselves up to fail, I’ve decided to take a tip from him and start fresh and just try making some modest changes to my behavior to get over the inertia of not writing for such a long period of time.

Therefore, I am NOT making a resolution to blog more. I’m not decreeing that I’ll get X posts up a week, or that I’ll write Y book reviews a month, or Z posts that aren’t about my family or running (which is what the majority of my posts recently seem to be about). Instead, I’m considering this an official “Fresh Start” with modest goals – I’m going to get my butt in the chair daily, for at least a half hour of dedicated clacking away at the keyboard. Not surfing the internet, but actual typing. Nothing may come of my day’s activity, and in fact I might not even come up with more than a few hundred words in that half-hour, but I’ll make the effort that will get me rolling. And I expect, more often than not, I’ll come up with something I’m content to edit into something I’ll eventually be proud to post (heck, this post is the first of such efforts).

To aid me in this activity, I’m starting up again on 750words.com – it’s a great, private site intended for people who write “morning pages” but can’t write longhand to save their lives. The goal of the site is to simply type 750 words, or approximately 3 pages of typewritten, double-spaced text, daily. If you write more than this, good for you. If you write less? You won’t get “credit” for the day, and you break your “streak” of days writing 750 words or more. By extending your streak you can earn cute “badges”, but the real beauty of the site is its clean, distraction-free layout, built-in word counter, and ease of use.

If you make the word count, it lets you know, right then and there. If not, you can get a reminder email sent to you at a pre-set time to bug you to get back on the horse and try again for that day. I’ve always enjoyed using it as a private, personal place to type out and thereby work out what’s on my mind, but now I’m also using it to “prime the pump”, so to speak, as I get back to the keyboard. 750 words takes me about 10-12 minutes, on average, so after I wrap up whatever I was typing about that got me to the goal that day, I plan to just switch over to something else and maybe, possibly, get some blog material out of it. We’ll see how it goes. As of right now, I’m pretty psyched with this plan. It seems achievable. It’s not something that I am going to feel is hanging over my head – all it takes is 30 minutes of my time. So that’s 1 less TV show or a half-hour of my lunch break, and I’m good to go for the day.


 

This past November, I ran my very first half-marathon, ever. At 32, I don’t recover as quickly as I used to, from ANY sort of mental or physical activity, but that run really knocked me on my ass. I spent the majority of the rest of the day on the couch or in bed, trying to recuperate. Part of it was me pushing myself in the race, but part of it was just what my body is telling me but my brain has yet to fully accept: I’m not the spring chicken I used to be.

Yes, I’m still relatively young, don’t get me wrong. And I’m in better shape now than I was 5 or even 6 years ago. But that doesn’t mean I’m still 22, able to stay out all night partying with friends, or even stay up all night at home watching movies and playing video games. If I don’t get a solid 7 hours of sleep, my body rebels – often by refusing to wake up to the alarm clock (which can be quite embarrassing when I only manage to wake up my wife and/or kids when the alarm goes off). And if I spend the morning running around with the kids, or, as I did this past fall, coaching soccer, I better plan on a nap/recharge period in the afternoon or else I’m toast by the kids’ bedtime. Sad, but true. I think increasing my fitness activities is helping me regain some of my previous going-about-my-day stamina, but my pep is still a step slower than it used to be.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not necessarily a full-on couch potato (or at least, I can pretty authoritatively pretend to NOT be one). But the aches and pains I get slightly more often than I did 10 years ago, combined with their unwillingness to leave me quite as quickly, have me eyeing that couch on more than a few occasions. Time’s catching up with me. I’m still ahead, but I need to pick up the pace if I want to outrun it for a while longer.


The Friday [5] – 3/5/10

Cori put together this neat badge over on her book blog to indicate the Friday [5] – a meme where you post 5 things in the land of books and media that you're currently lovin'. Steve and some others have also started doing this, and since I'm still laid up on the couch this week and not feeling all that inspired (being house-bound against your will does put a damper on your creativity), I thought I'd try it out, too.  I'm going to extend it to include "writing" interests, too, since I'm getting interested in doing some writing and/or improving my writing a bit. So without further ado,

Here are five things in the land of books, media, and writing that I’m lovin’:

  1. I've been catching up on episodes of this season's Burn Notice. The title refers to the "burn notices" issued by intelligence agencies to discredit or announce the dismissal of agents or sources who are considered to have become unreliable. When a spy is burned, they are wiped off the grid, without access to cash or influence. Each episode is its own self-contained story, with the "burn notice" story arc running through the background tying them all together. It's an interesting mix of spies, con-men, and trickery. I'm fond of the lead, Jeffrey Donovan, and he and the supporting cast keep the show interesting even after three seasons.
  2. Neil Gaimain posted a link to a short story of his on Twitter. The story, entitled "Cinnamon", has never been published anywhere before.  It's a short read, but a nice gem. Reminds me a lot of Kipling's work, and not just because it involves tigers and parrots!
  3. I got my hands on an ebook copy of The Princess Bride, by William Goldman. Although I expected it to be good, I didn't realize it would be THIS good. I'm really enjoying the "autobiographical" aspects of the text that Goldman includes.  He says in the preface that he adapted this from S. Morganstern's "Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure", but cut all of the boring parts and left only "The Good Parts". If you've seen the film (and who hasn't?) you'll find yourself comparing scenes of the movie to the same chapters of the book, and sometimes find the film comes out on top. But if you can put the film aside for a bit and just read the book in its entirety, I think you'll find it an enjoyable and humorous read.
  4. Not so much media as a media platform, I'm finding I am really digging the Motorola Droid as a video-player. I already have the Creative Zen mp3/media player that I use most of the time, but the only benefit that has over the Droid now is that the Zen can output to the TV.  Otherwise, the Droid kicks butt – I can convert any video to .mp4 format using Handbrake, and the resulting file plays brilliantly on my phone.  Plug in some headphones and I have a beautiful little video player to watch a TV show or movie on while resting on the couch or in bed.
  5. 750words.com has been getting a lot of attention recently, especially from the geek/writing community.  Conceived by Buster Benson, 750 Words is a website that enables you to do a private "brain-dump" on a very simple online word-processor.  750 words is the equivalent of 3 pages, and is the daily goal of participants of the website (originating from the idea of "morning pages" from The Artist's Way).  After you write 750 words about whatever you want (stream-of-consciousness style recommended), the website does a very cool text-analysis and visualization on what you typed.  (Example here, from my entry today)  I find once I start writing, the very activity of writing primes me to write more, so I'm looking forward to using this site not only to provide an outlet for private catharsis, but also to help get me jump-started on the day's writing. 

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