System Overload

2 May

Blog posts don’t happen overnight — usually. They actually take a fair amount of planning. I typically use a 7-step process; one step for each day of the week. It works something like this:

Friday = Generate a hypothesis: I review the previous day’s post and all associated comments, emails, and stats. Did I miss anything? Does something need further development? Any trends in the feedback? The wheels start turning…

Saturday = Design some options: Speaking of wheels… Saturdays are generally my “long-ride” days. When I’m on my bike, I mainly think about the ride itself: How am I feeling? What does my data tell me? How can I improve my data? How can I avoid getting hit by cars? Those are pretty all-consuming thoughts, but I can’t sustain them for the entire ~5 hours. Sometimes my mind wanders. And when it does, it typically explores ideas for possible opening paragraphs. Most ideas get rejected, but some stick.

Sunday = Investigate the known: I usually end up with 2 or 3 “sticky” ideas. On Sundays, I explore the web to find ancillary stuff to fill out (or demolish) the ideas. What’s been written elsewhere about a given topic? Can I find good hyperlinks to provide additional background and/or structure? Any photos that could extend the narratives? What are some possible “Parting Thought” quotes? By the end of Sunday’s research excursion, I generally know what the theme of the next post will be.

Monday = Articulate the expectation: Monday is the Official Sabbath Day for Cyclists — or so sayeth my coach. After putting in ~150 miles over the weekend, you need a rest. Monday, therefore, always means “No Ride Day.” Not riding means plenty of time for writing. So, Mondays are when 90% of my actual writing gets done.

Tuesday = Creative interlude: Tuesday is the Unofficial Sabbath Day for Blog Writers — or at least it is for this one! I don’t think about the blog at all. I don’t even obsess over my “viewer” stats. Ok, well, maybe just a little…

Wednesday = Refine the hypothesis: This can be a long day, especially when I have to re-write large swaths of text. During my Monday write-a-thon, I’m very self-absorbed. When I return to my draft after Tuesday’s break, sometimes my very in-the-moment expressions no longer make sense. My mind is essentially a giant Etch-a-Sketch these days. Thanks to my TBI, I have NO ability to retain impressions or memories unless I repeatedly grind them into my neural network. Stepping away from inputs consistently results in a fresh perspective upon reengagement. I view my writing as a stranger would view it. What made sense to “me” on Monday may not make sense to this “stranger” on Wednesday. Thus, major re-writes often ensue.

Once the draft is actually done-done, I’ll spend 40-50 minutes undertaking various OCD-like proofreading efforts. The novel techniques that I use to identify and fix errors may deserve a blog post in their own right — there’s good humor (and learning!) in there!

Yes, alas, I remain super-highly prone to cacography (inability to spell correctly), disjunction, and various other thought processing disorders even while I retain the Grammar Nazi soul that I so earnestly cultivated in law school.

I hate presenting typo-laden offerings to you. I attempt to fly-speck the heck out of these things before I hit the “Publish” button. It wounds me to the core when I discover post-publication errors, and yet it happens EVERY time. I shame myself deeply. But I’ll keep on trying!

Thursday = Communicate with others: My officially designated “Publication Day.” I’ll do a last read-through and correct yet more typos before hitting the “Publish” button around 9:00am-ish to get this thing to you at the start of the West Coast workday / East Coast lunch break. I then go for a 3- or 4-hour ride so that I don’t obsessively check my viewer stats. That’s what Fridays are for. The cycle repeats…

Why am I telling you all of this?

Because this post is the “Exception that proves the rule.” This blog post WAS written overnight!

When I got home from class on Wednesday (at 10:00pm) my pre-planned post was still stuck at the “Sunday” stage. In truth, it was barely half-way through the Sunday stage: The concept was finalized, but I’d not yet undertaken the supporting research/background development piece because I was up to my neurons in flashcards, textbooks, and lecture notes preparing for this week’s Midterms.

I jettisoned Monday’s write-a-thon in favor of cramming for my Biology Midterm. Tuesday was hijacked by my Physiology Midterm — MEGA-massive cram session for that one! When I woke on Wednesday, I felt like I was suffering from a legendary hangover.

All that extended, epic effort to memorize, memorize, memorize had taken its toll on my systems. Total systemic overload.ย I was BEAT and the “totally wasted and destroyed” effect only intensified once I got home from my Wednesday night class.

I tried to summon the energy to power-through the rather ambitious post that I had planned. To do so properly, however, actually would require quite a bit of the “supporting research/background development” work that I failed to perform on Sunday. That wasn’t gonna happen, so you’re not getting the planned post.

You’re getting the overnight express / oh-my-gosh-I’ve-got-to-publish-SOMETHING option.ย But you’re also getting a wee bit o’ insight into what I do with some of my “free” time during this quasi-retirement stage of my life.

And I guess I now have a neat little “control” experiment regarding blog posts and viewer stats: Do the posts that take 7 days to write get more or less traffic than the ones that take about an hour?

You tell me, Adventure followers…

Parting Thought: It is a good morning exercise for a research scientist to discard a pet hypothesis every day before breakfast. It keeps him young. ~Konrad Lorenz


3 Responses to “System Overload”

  1. Kathleen Fisher May 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    I loved it and it makes me want to start writing a journal–I won’t/can’t Blog. But a journal I can do. Will see what transpires as Fisher and I move to SLO for the next couple of weeks while K and N are on their Med cruise. I did teenagers once and now I will do it again as a g-ma. Hmm. This should be interesting.

    • justadventures May 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

      Good luck with the teens! I would *totally* read a blog post about THAT adventure!


  1. I’ve got a crush on you. | JustAdventures - October 13, 2014

    […] when I first started blogging, I actually had a very stringent process, which I wrote about HERE. Back then, I desperately needed that sort of structure because my brain was still all sorts of […]

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