A recent article on Medium quotes from a delightfully old Lifehacker article where a young Brad Isaac asks Jerry Seinfeld if he had any tips for a young comic. The advice is gold, and not just for comics:
He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day… He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here’s how it works.
He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.
He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”
“Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.
What I love about this is that it’s what I’m trying to do every day on this blog: not breaking the chain. And then I thought that it would be cool if there was some type of visualization for this unbroken chain, and sure enough, WordPress.com’s Stats → Insights has me covered:
Skipping one day makes it easier to skip the next.
When I relaunched this blog with its current design, I added post counts in an attempt to game myself into posting more often, with the goal of achieving 500 posts by the end of the year. That goal would have required posting in the neighbourhood of 2.5 times per week. I’ve posted only 15 times.
But, in conjunction with some newly available time, I idly wondered if that goal was even still feasible. Some quick math revealed that I needed 67 more posts to hit 500. I then discovered that there were 67 days left in 2011. Eerie.
So, I’m going for it. Not everything I post is going to be an essay, which was definitely the writing form that this design optimized itself for. That optimization has likely played a role in discouraging me from writing shorter-form posts. I might use this as an opportunity to play with post formats, especially now that there’s a usable UI.
When you’re trying to game yourself into posting more often, it makes sense to recycle some of your old material in an effort to gain momentum. I saw many of my old posts[ref]This post will be my 419th so far[/ref] for the first time in a long while as I checked them against the new design, and I thought it’d be fun to share a few of them.
Since this blog has been effectively dead for the past 1.5 years, I thought that it might be good to draw your attention to things I’ve written here over the years. I could make a list of my favourite writings, but I frankly forget what I’ve written here. I instead used data from Google Analytics to name my top 5 posts over the history of this blog. They are:
- On Valedictions – This has been on Google’s first page for the term “valedictions” for a long time now and consistently gets the most traffic. It also happens to be one of my best bits of writing—it marked the time when I first started to understand the difference between writing and writing.
- A Modern Day Parable –I guess there’s a lot of pastors looking for sermon illustrations. This contemporary spin on the Parable of the Good Samaritan still gets to me.
- Demotivational – This one’s just silly. I had a period where Google Images ranked me highly for that term. Demotivational posters are still funny.
- Blogging: A Reliable Academic Source? – I was in University and grappling with how to possibly cite blogs as an academic source. Here I simply ask for feedback on the topic, and receive some. I collected some follow-up thoughts in a redux post.
- Go the Second Mile – This familiar turn of phrase comes out of the Sermon on the Mount has layers you don’t know are there until illuminated by a pacifist like Walter Wink. Reading this made Christian nonviolence the only feasible option for me.
And, to give lie to the number in the title, here’s four more posts that are interesting for other reasons:
- Brian McLaren, Conversation and Life (most commented) – Your classic case of a secondary statement turning into an all-out comment assault.
- Sign of the Apocalypse (amusing) – In which I begin a series of posts pointing to our impending doom.
- The Violent Fantastic Imagination (personal favourite) – In which I connect two things I’m passionate about: fantasy books and nonviolence.
- Rebellion as Staying Put – My only post to almost get published in expanded form, twice: once in a magazine, once in a book.[ref]Looking back, the disappointment from this contributed to my writing hiatus. I was cut from the magazine without ever being told until I opened my author’s copy only to discover I wasn’t in it. The book project fell apart due to the publisher slowly disintegrating.[/ref]
It’s encouraging to see how much I’ve written over the past 5 years. Now, to keep that momentum going.
While I thought that I would have much more time during the summer to post on my blog, the opposite is seeming to be the case. Well, it’s not that I don’t have the time, but I’m working now and not spending as much time on my computer. My posts were mostly born out of procrastination, and since that is currently a non-issue, I post less.
I also find that not being in the swing of school provides less food for thought. Surfing through the blogosphere can hardly be called focused inquiry.
Now that I have thoroughly made my excuses for not blogging in a while, I wonder what the future of my blog holds. It’s not that I’m entertaining quitting (as many do), it’s just that most blogs seem to have, uh, focus. Mine flies all over the map: personal, meditations, theological and philosophical musings, cultural critique, technology, and the occassional random quote from something that I’m reading. Most successful bloggers seem to not be so scattered… Oh well, good thing I’m not trying to be successful.
That said, what kinds of posts do people enjoy the most from me?