This week I did a couple of new things.

  • I moved to Boston.
  • I started a new job.
  • I started writing almost everyday.

Out of these three things, writing has proven to be the most challenging.

However, it’s increasingly building into a good habit. I can feel somewhere in my brain a voice that tells me “we have to write today”. Even though I was not planning to write the article today, I ended up going for it anyways. As it turns out, it has been a week since I started, so I should just go to report it.

Here’s how the first week looks like:

date time_start time_end project_name type_of_writing word_count
2018-08-30 09:35 09:55 blog post first draft 390
2018-08-30 21:22 22:47 short story first draft 897
2018-09-01 08:35 10:00 short story outlines 700
2018-09-02 22:16 23:59 novel first draft 800
2018-09-03 00:00 00:32 novel first draft 300
2018-09-03 19:50 21:03 short story first draft 1323
2018-09-04 22:00 23:05 short story first draft 1038
2018-09-05 22:48 23:35 blog post first draft 820
2018-09-07 23:06 23:45 short story first draft 565
2018-09-08 09:55 10:57 short story second draft 262
2018-09-08 10:57 12:40 short story first draft 1414
2018-09-09 13:38 14:28 short story first draft 494
2018-09-09 19:37 21:05 short story second draft 917
2018-09-10 20:17 21:03 short story first draft 475
2018-09-13 21:21 22:40 blog post first draft 624
2018-09-13 22:53 22:43 short story first draft 573
2018-09-14 23:24 23:59 short story first draft 379
2018-09-15 09:56 10:47 short story second draft 616
2018-09-16 19:14 19:50 short story second draft 134
2018-09-16 19:50 20:38 short story first draft 566
2018-09-17 23:14 23:49 short story first draft 587
2018-09-20 19:37 20:05 blog post first draft 504
2018-09-20 22:05 23:11 blog post first draft 456
2018-09-21 00:00 00:30 blog post first draft 471
2018-09-21 20:27 21:09 short story first draft 714
2018-09-22 15:20 15:35 reflection first draft 178
2018-09-22 15:35 17:58 short story first draft 1530
2018-09-23 15:22 16:39 short story first draft 1394
2018-09-23 16:39 17:38 short story second draft 106
2018-09-24 22:12 22:50 short story first draft 542
2018-09-25 18:46 19:25 blog post first draft 450
2018-09-26 20:11 21:08 blog post second draft 142
2018-09-26 23:05 23:59 blog post first draft 719
2018-09-29 19:55 22:34 short story first draft 1764
2018-09-30 11:00 12:55 R-intro first draft 700
2018-09-30 19:30 20:45 short story first draft 790
2018-10-01 22:41 23:42 novel first draft 736
2018-10-14 18:26 20:17 novel first draft 1410
2018-10-17 21:44 22:43 novel first draft 558
2018-10-21 20:13 20:48 novel firt draft 484
2018-11-04 20:28 21:00 novel first draft 377
2018-11-11 18:52 19:23 novel first draft 256
2018-11-11 20:24 21:16 short story first draft 573
2018-11-12 19:44 21:17 short story first draft 815
2018-11-23 12:12 12:32 blog post first draft 122
2018-11-23 18:06 19:00 blog post first draft 497
2018-11-23 20:03 21:06 short story first draft 468
2018-11-24 09:51 11:39 short story first draft 310
2018-11-24 15:45 16:39 short story second draft 8
2018-12-06 16:59 18:13 short story first draft 926
2018-12-12 12:27 12:51 short story first draft 320
2018-12-13 19:50 22:00 short story second draft 936
2018-12-14 11:01 11:55 novel first draft 253
2018-12-14 16:48 18:36 short story first draft 554
2018-12-20 18:50 19:09 blog post outlines 328
2018-12-23 19:44 20:14 first draft non-fiction 346
2019-01-01 11:31 12:27 first draft blog post 818
2019-01-02 13:42 14:50 first draft blog post 782
2019-01-19 15:07 16:45 second draft short story 135
2019-01-31 20:35 22:00 second draft short story 352
2019-01-31 10:04 second draft short story 115


Some early but general comments/thoughts about the challenge:

  • I appear to be more willing to write after dinner and late into the night. This might not be because I am naturally better at this moment, it’s just better for my schedule to be expedite in the morning (the time between wake-up and the moment I leave is normally less than an hour). This decision leaves no room for writing in the mornings except for weekends. Indeed, on September 1st, I wrote during the morning and it was great. I knew I was going to be literally dead after the move, so I allowed myself to be happy with my small writing after breakfast. It didn’t feel weird to write in the morning at all and I was full of energy after a pretty charged breakfast.

  • I am always below the word count goal. My current writing goes somewhere between 1000-1300 a day, which gets considerably easier if I know what I’m gonna be writing about or if I have a somewhat detailed outline. On the contrary, being tired (like when I’m writing this first draft) makes it really tough to find creative paths. Maybe that’s why I chose a report-like structure for this post. I am not super concerned because I already feel some improvements and because 2000 words a day is a lot. It’s a nice goal to have and I can probably do it sooner than later. I can probably also run 5K a day too, and bake a cake after that, and cook dinner, and never sleep?

The setup

I have a fair amount of ongoing projects. The ones that are especially out of control are the fiction stories/novels I write for fun. I have been thinking about closing all those loops for a long time, having the unfinished folder uncluttered would be beautiful. These texts are partially written but in a disorganized manner that makes it hard to keep track of. Hopefully with time and the habit of writing words into text consistently they will become finished.

The good

This challenge set me up in a good mood regarding my writing. I regained encouragement towards writing and confidence towards being able to reduce the number of unfinished pieces. I also feel words coming easily (and it works for Spanish too!).

Short stories are easier to write. These take less time to outline and develop into scenes, stakes are lower and I feel them flow easier through my brain. The relatively low amount of characters makes it easy to keep track of. The stats book and novels are harder. These need more research and planning, pruning of the content. For example, triple checking the code makes sense and graphs show the way you want or that after x amount of words.

I decided to go full Markdown from now on. Webpage and stats book are already .Rmd, some other note-taking things are .md too. I changed my .docx short stories into .md. I discovered an awesome text editor (Sublime text 3). It’s everything I wanted a text editor to be. I am pretty happy with Rstudio’s editor for .Rmd files but I find Sublime to be awesome1.

The bad

I am still not organized when writing. I don’t stick to the correct stages. I jump from outline to completion of the idea. Investing more into thinking about and writing proper outlines can save tremendous amount of energy/time and propel writing during the first draft.

I took the first project at random and I did not finish that one project before continuing with another (and yet another one). It was a two-fold scenario: I felt blocked after writing a bit of the first project and all of a sudden better ideas appeared for the other projects. I did stop at 3 (out of the 30). I guess I still need to work on the completion part before jumping into new.

  1. I actually went into it because I really wanted something that could handle .csv files without changing them (Excel would do whatever it wants but keep the text as is). I had the “somebody must have solved this issue” feeling for so long, and now I have Sublime, pretty happy about it :)↩︎