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?
Check Out the Previous Steps in My Self-Improvement Series:
December 31, 2012: 7 New Year’s Resolutions I Invite Others to Steal
February 1, 2013: The Plan So I Don’t Waste the Last Year of My 20s
April 10: The 13 Weeks Radical Reading Regimen
May 8: Every American Needs to Read Books to Understand Islam
July 6: We Must Read Tons of Books With A Clear Purpose
October 5: 13 Weeks of Wild Man Writing and Radical Reading
November 17: Half Through 13 Weeks For Radical Readers and Madman Writers, Turning Up the Heat
January 1, 2014: 7 New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 I Invite You to Burgle From Me Bilbo-Style
And Don’t miss how Charlie, Sarah, and Rhonda are staring their 13 Week regimens this year:
Charlie Martin: 13 Weeks: New Year, New Season, New Experiments
Sarah Hoyt: Selling Your Writing in 13 Weeks, Week 13: Bringing It All Together
Rhonda Robinson: 13 Weeks: Finding My Way Back To Creativity, And The Heart of My Daughter
I have decided to accept my limitations. With the nature of my editorial work across the PJM network of sites and the unpredictability of the usual day with The Wife in her final year of graduate school it has proven difficult to stick to a daily reading/writing regimen. Some days the editorial load is heavier than others unexpectedly, other days where I intend an even reading/writing split one or the other might end up predominating. If I’m in a research groove, finding new connections across books and finally beginning to grasp difficult concepts then I’m going to run with it. Likewise when the writing muse bestows her blessings you don’t tell her to shut up.
There’s a factor in all this scheduling and productivity planning work that often gets overlooked: moods. So much of being a creative person is about learning to channel one’s emotions into art, writing, and communicating. We have to learn to recognize what state of mind we’re in at any given time and then take advantage of it. Reading, writing, editing, and publishing are all four different processes. And I’ve found that circumstances and subjective moods lend themselves to each task differently. The state of mind one needs to edit an article is not the same as for writing or for researching.
One thing I’m going to try and do more this year is focus on each individually. Helping me do that will be a closer focus on using the handwritten journal as a catalyst to organize the day and facilitate more writing. Here are 10 ways that I’m going to do it, in the style that I’m going to explore this year — creating combinations of photographs, blogging, and embedded video juxtapositions.
Read more at TMZ. And some recommended books on the subject:
Why Benghazi Is a Crime More Evil Than Anything a President Has Done in Our Lifetimes… in 60 Seconds
I published this on November 4, the conclusion of an article titled “The 15 Best Books for Understanding Barack Obama’s Mysterious Political Theology,” and a summation of my conclusions after more than three years spent investigating the president’s ideology full time:
Sitting here on this Sunday morning before the election, the Sun now up, reflecting back on these years scouring through dusty old Marxist books, trying to understand a president who built his career on a mountain of lies, I confess a peace with either electoral result on Tuesday. A part of me almost wishes that Obama
stealswins reelection (as I anticipate he will). The thought of him quietly retiring to a mansion in Hawaii in January to live out the rest of his life in comfort and adoration should inspire nausea. Only if Obama wins reelection do conservatives have a chance to hold him accountable for Benghazi, Fast and Furious, and all the crimes we don’t even know about yet. The man has blood on his hands and we can’t let him get away with it.
An ancient dictum popularized in recent years by the late Christopher Hitchens on the path forward, should Tuesday disappoint:
Fiat justitia ruat caelum
Do Justice and Let the Skies Fall