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A 13 Weeks Challenge: Say More, Write Less

Charlie Martin, Sarah Hoyt, me and others fell off the wagon with our writing plans at about the same time. Time to reset, inspired by Roger L. Simon.

by
Dave Swindle

Bio

February 26, 2014 - 9:00 am

My new weekday morning writing plan. Inspired by friends... #writing #blogging #newmedia #pomodorotimer #organization

Dear Charlie,

I find it fascinating the way we all seemed to suddenly crash with our ambitious writing plans at about the same time. Is there just some invisible wave, a disturbance in the force to kind of throw off a whole bunch of PJ Lifestyle writers, myself included? It seems like the past few weeks we’ve all gotten sick or had life events of some kind throwing off our blogging routines.

Is this almost a seasonal occurrence perhaps? We’ll figure it out someday. You’ll probably come up with some way to run the data and pick up on some pattern.

[In my case, looking back now, I realize that my consistent, daily blogging stopped on February 3, when learning about Barry Rubin's death. That explains it more than I would've liked.]

But in the mean time, how about we hit the reset button? Now’s the time to start transitioning in the direction that I emailed you and the other PJ Lifestyle regulars about earlier this month: more and shorter posts.

I came to PJ Media almost three years ago with the hope of learning as much as I could from Roger L. Simon. One lesson that he taught and that I’m still pushing to focus on: Do not overwrite. It is a sign that we are not confident in what we are saying when we feel the need to explain excessively.

Make the point in as few words as possible. Roger the Oscar-nominated screenwriter informed the style of Roger the new media editor.

So I’m going to try and do more short posts and I’ll be doing so with the methods you’ve explored in your 13 weeks and organizational series with Sarah Hoyt:

  • Morning Pages – I’ll do free writing in my Moleskine journal each morning
  • Pomodoro timer – I’ll give it 25 minutes in the morning, after my morning reading and running, but before I start the day’s PJM editing.

To these tools I’ll add four New Media practices:

  • InstaGram – photographs of book excerpts
  • InstaGram – handwritten posts
  • Twitter – Current news stories that I tweet about are the seeds of blog posts
  • YouTube – Music, video, lectures – to illustrate and augment posts. Blogs work when they juxtapose image, text, and video.

I’m going to start trying to do at least a post a day, drawing from something in my morning writing pages. Everyday I’ll dive into the editing day with a strong idea in concept and then will be able to quickly assemble a short, juxtaposed blog post from my various media piles, hopefully using a timely story as a hook. Just one or two pages, 100, 200 words – 600 max. Blog posts are best when they’re like jabs in a boxing match.

And I’ve already gone too long. Damn it.

Charlie, you’ve been such a leader and inspiration at PJ Lifestyle. How about jumping in on this style too when you’re ready? All the subjects you’ve been doing so well – health, science, Buddhism, pop culture and book publishing, and feel free to explore more – just aim to up the quantity of posts and decrease the word counts in them. (Sarah, you’re invited too when you’re done finishing up your big writing projects.)

So here’s my new 13 Weeks challenge, for myself and others: during the week we aim to up the quantity of posts, with an emphasis on current stories in culture. Monday-Friday I’m going to aim for at least one post (under 600 words and no more than 2 pages) making one point well. Longer pieces can be saved for our new list-focused weekends and written at a more leisurely pace later.

How’s that sound?

- David

David Swindle is the associate editor of PJ Media. He writes and edits articles and blog posts on politics, news, culture, religion, and entertainment. He edits the PJ Lifestyle section and the PJ columnists. Contact him at DaveSwindlePJM @ Gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @DaveSwindle. He has worked full-time as a writer, editor, blogger, and New Media troublemaker since 2009, at PJ Media since 2011. He graduated with a degree in English (creative writing emphasis) and political science from Ball State University in 2006. Previously he's also worked as a freelance writer for The Indianapolis Star and the film critic for WTHR.com. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their Siberian Husky puppy Maura.

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It's February. Every February halts everything good in my life. Every time. School gets neglected, writing doesn't get done, laundry climbs....it's February. The worst month of the year. I'm sitting here right now looking at February in the sink, on every surface, in every corner....it sucks.
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sort of a sausage making article
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