Run it back

Run it back

This phrase is typically used to say you want a rematch with the same team. Recently I’ve been hearing athletes use this phrase while practicing. There was an Instagram post of Tom Brady using this exact phrase as the caption of a picture of him working out with his receivers.

It got me thinking about using this type of mentality in other aspects of your life. We should be running it back when we’re working on our next speech, leading our team, or developing a new business or product. It’s time to break the stereotype that everything needs to be perfect the first time. Athletes know this to be true. Tom Brady and Lebron James weren’t great at their first practice. We shouldn’t be expect to be great for the first attempt at a speech or writing. It’s not about the first attempt. It’s about improving.

That’s the goal of this blog. It’s not about perfection. It’s about improving every day.

Getting back at it

I’ve been gone for a while. The last post on this blog was December 18th, 2018. 2018 was a slow year. I don’t know if I published ten posts that year. It’s hard to believe it wasn’t that long ago, maybe two years, when I published almost every day.

It’s not that I haven’t been writing. I’ve been writing almost every day but it’s been in a notebook with the goal of completing three pages a day. I didn’t always succeed in writing three pages a day but I usually accomplished something most days. Recently, I’ve felt like I needed to get back to writing on this blog with a focus on completing work that will help me achieve my personal and career goals. It’s time to move forward and continue to ship my work.

I’m still thinking about what direction I want to go with this blog. In the past, I did daily posts with the goal of following Seth Godin’s style of being short and to the point. Though I don’t think I ever really accomplished that goal. I also enjoy the habit-forming effect that occurs when you’re trying to publish something every day. The other direction I’ve debated going is the one long post on a weekly time frame that I’ve seen a number of people use. I like both timelines but I think I’m going to try treating this habit like the work week with the goal of publishing Monday through Friday. My hope is this format will allow me to write some longer posts over the weekend that I could publish Monday morning. That’s the goal I’m going to try sticking to for the rest of the summer.

Writing daily posts is one part of the four Mental goals I want to complete each day. Along with writing daily posts, I want to read for an hour a day and atleast one thing I find interesting. The third goal, is my Summer of Data Science (#SoDS2019) goal which is to finally complete Coursera’s Stanford Machine Learning course. I’ve watched almost all of the course videos but now I want to complete all of the projects and post about the experience. Lastly, for the rest of the summer, I want to focus on completing projects. I think my first project will be recreating @friscojosh’s Getting Started with R for NFL Data Analysis tutorial into python. Another project I’m thinking about is converting some of DataCamp’s Quantitative Analyst courses in R to python.

That’s the plan for at least the rest of summer. Then I’ll reevaluate based on the success and the fun I’m having each day. It feels good to be back. I’m looking forward to keeping up with my goals and moving forward.

Not perfect

Not perfect

For a long time, I used to feel like there were many things I’d like to change about myself: My hair, stretch marks on my arms and hips, abs, biceps, eyes, teeth, education, and parts of my life.

Eventually, I realized I was never going to be perfect. Life keeps moving on whether you can deal with it or not. If I was never going to be perfect then I also had to realize my work was never going to be perfect. I could either never publish a single piece of writing, or I could continue to try to be perfect.

This blog post, and I, are not perfect, and I’m okay with that feeling.

Photo Credit: placardmoncoeur

Over two years of blog posts

The anniversary for this blog has came and went. I didn’t make much of a big deal about since I’ve struggled to write over the last few weeks. In my first year of daily blog posts, I nearly hit my goal of a post a day. My 2015 total came to 356 posts. This year I’ll probably end with about one hundred less posts.

Today, I’m thinking about what went wrong and how I can improve going forward.  The first six months of this year went well but I kept getting hung up towards the end of the especially these last two months.

The main issue is that I’ve experimented unsuccessfully to change my daily writing routine. Today, I’m back to simply writing into the WordPress browser. I’m going to continue with this method going forward because one of my 2017 BIG goals will be to make it another whole year of daily blog posts.

I can’t be too hard on my self. In the two years since I made it my goal of writing every single day. I’ve writing almost six-hundred blog posts. That’s more than I’ve probably written in my entire life.

In the end, I think this blog is helping me to achieve my main goal which is to become a  better writer. Here’s hoping I’ll have written over six-hundred more posts two years from now.

One day at a time

Today, I’m thinking about my method to publish a daily blog post. I’ve tried a number of methods over the past two years. I’ve tried morning pages in a notebook or on 750words.com. I’ve written only in a notebook. I’ve written only on a computer. I’ve tried writing at night and on my subway ride home.

They’ve all helped me to write more than I’ve ever written in my life. Though the point of my daily commitment isn’t about simply filling up a notebook or completing a certain amount of words each day. It’s about writing something I want to publish. That doesn’t necessary mean it’s my best writing. The method I want to choose is the one that allows me to publish some of my writing every day within a limited amount of time.

The method I found works best is waking up every morning before anyone else in my house is awake. Opening up WordPress in my browser and begin typing. Some days I have an idea of what I want to write. Other times I simply start typing about my day to get me rolling. I found it to be the most efficient way to get an idea out of my head, typed, and saved into my blog post queue.

That’s not to say I don’t love writing in my notebook. I do, but there are some days when I can’t find the time to write in my notebook and then decipher my chicken scratch handwriting so I can retype writing. Writing in the browser is just easier for me.

I’ve found with most of the goals is that if I don’t make them as easy as possible to complete then they usually never get done. Hopefully, getting back to my old method will help me get back on track with my daily blog post commitment.

Overthinking it

My problem, or one of my problems, is that I’m constantly overthinking certain situations and the things I need to complete. There are times  when I can take a simple task that should take five minutes and I could will end up turning it into fifteen, or twenty, minutes because I’m spending too much time in my head daydreaming about what I want to say. Sometimes I feel like I have a daydreaming problem

Many of us have the tendency to overthink certain situations instead of taking action. This overthinking leads us to inaction because we’ll think about all the negatives, all the positives, what to say, what not to say, who we’ll offend, who will care, or all the other possible options we have in life. Then we’ll run into one insignificant item that will drive us crazy. Other times, it might not be insignificant. There may be a lot of positive benefits that outweigh the one negative, yet, we’ll let the one negative to allow ourselves to question our decision.

While writing, I find myself constantly over thinking every sentence. It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog post, email, or letter. I’ll spend way too much time in my head rather than on the page. I guess some people might consider this feeling, writer’s block. I’m not a big fan of this term.  Though I think writer’s block is simply overthinking the process of writing. Writer’s block is when you’re stuck inside you’re own head trying to be perfect. This blog post isn’t perfect. If I needed my writing to be perfect then I’d never write. That’s what I’ve learned from listening, and reading, about other professional writers.  Many of them don’t believe in writer’s block. The solution to writer’s block, that most writers recommend, is to keep writing. Write about anything. Writer about your plans for today. Write about what happened to you yesterday. It can be anything but the important this is to write. Anytime I find myself stuck I’ll fall back to this old rule: “Action is better than inaction.” It’s worked for me every time.

Yesterday, I wrote about the podcast, The Moment with Brian Koppelman, in my Bookbinge post about the book, Hemingway On Writing.  During the podcast, Brian talks about how writing is one of the few professions when you’re expected to be great the first time you attempt to write anything.

That’s the story behind this blog. I’m not a great writer. I don’t know if I’ll ever be a great writer. What I do know is I’ll never be a great writer if I don’t write every day. That’s the goal of this blog.  That’s why I’m back to writing a daily blog post. That’s why I originally made the commitment almost two years ago. Not money, not fame, and not anything other then me simply wanting to improve my writing because even the most famous writers, like Hemingway, would write every day.

Outline it fast

I’m relistening to Steve Pressfield’s, Do the Work. This book is packed with great tips for anyone trying to create art. I’ll focus on three key tips I’m going to try use this week for anything I want to  write. 

1. Outline it fast!
In the beginning he talks about how anything can be outlined on a single sheet of paper using the below format. For anything you’re creating, focus on these three acts:

  • Beginning
  • Middle
  • End

2. Start backwards

Next, he offers a screenwriter trick which is to start at the end then work backwards. When you think about this tip, I feel like it makes a lot of sense. It should almost be common sense. If you’re working on any goal you always start with the end in mind. You usually want to achieve something. You might want to run a marathon, start a business, or win an award. Why would writing a story be any different? I think someone once said something like this, “You need to know where you’re going, so you can figure out how you are going to get there.”

3. Don’t turn research into resistance 

This is one of my biggest problems. For many years, and still today, I find myself talking about what I want to do, instead of doing it. There is always something to plan because starting and planning are fun. It’s easy to start a diet, blog, or business but it’s hard to stick with your goal when times get tough. 

I love to read and learn new things. There is a seemingly endless amount of books on my ‘To read’ list or Cousera continues to release new courses that I just have to take. It’s good to read and take new classes but I have a tendency to allow these things to keep me from completing the important work I want to accomplish. Steve recommends only reading three books on your subject, no notes allowed. This forces you to stop researching and start working towards your goal.

That doesn’t mean you won’t do anymore research. There is a time for research later. The point is to limit research in the beginning so we can focus on starting and completing the rough draft now.

If you’ve been procrastinating on any project then you should go find this book—and it’s precursor, The War of Art— right now and read, or listen, to them over and over again. They’re both worth every penny. 

Now, I need to go back to work to use these techniques.