30 minutes is too short

I’m kind of unhappy with the posts I wrote during the week last week. They were short, messy, and didn’t end up really communicating quite what I wanted them to. The post I wrote yesterday, though, I’m really proud of. I think the main difference is that yesterday was a Saturday, so I had a full hour to write, whereas the other posts were written within the bounds of my 30 minute morning Caltrain ride. I think 30 minutes is too short to come up with something to write about, have interesting thoughts about it, and write about them satisfactorily.

I’ve thought of a few ways to tackle the problem. When I already have the idea in my mind and know what I want to write, the writing itself flows pretty easily. I don’t have a problem crystallizing thoughts into words, as long as the thoughts themselves are already clear. So one way I could tackle this is to have and flesh out ideas ahead of time, in bullet points, and when it comes time to actually write a post, I can just pop something off the stack of ideas I’ve already thought about. That solution would require a secondary habit, that of ideation, so as to avoid the situation where I sit down on the train to write but my idea book is empty. My writing prompts post is a nascent step in that direction (though many of the ideas therein still aren’t clear in my mind).

Another way to look at it would be to try increasing the time I spend per post. An hour generally seems to be sufficient. I could catch an earlier, slower train to give me more time to write. That would mean getting up earlier, which would send a small ripple backwards through my schedule and would require a few other small habit changes, like going to bed earlier, or not reading before bed. Or I could spend two mornings on each post, instead of one. That has the advantage that I can use the time in between to keep thinking about what I’m writing, but at the cost of sacrificing the clarity of “done-ness”, the perfectionism-dodge that comes with the one-hour limit I’ve imposed on myself.

In the spirit of testing, I’m going to try out a few of these ideas over the next couple of weeks. This week, I’m going to write four posts instead of seven, spending two(ish) days on each. Next week, I’m going to dedicate two hours on Saturday to ideation, instead of writing, and try to come up with six posts’ worth of ideas for the week. And from Mar 14–18, I’m going to catch the 8:24am local train instead of the 8:57am express, giving me 50 minutes to write instead of 30. Let’s see how this goes.This post didn’t have any pictures in it, so here’s a video of a plotter.

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