My Writing Process

65 Thoughts Spreadsheet

With 65 daily essays, and a bit of a breather, under my belt, I thought it might be useful to review my reasoning and process.

Having a deadline forces me to produce. My weekly newsletter forces the Ask Leo! wheels to produce or update content each week. I started Not All News Is Bad as a daily newsletter to force myself to find something good in the world every day.

Honestly, 65 Thoughts was the same thing. I wanted to write more, and I wanted what I produce to be a little more meaningful. Setting a cadence of having to publish something every day for 65 days in a row did the trick.

That doesn’t mean I started on day T-65 and wrote every day. I used technology to my advantage.

The actual process began at least a month earlier.

I started collecting ideas. One word or a short phrase to capture the essence of what I thought I might write about. Eventually, those I selected became the various “On” essay titles that got published.

I have a daily writing practice. I simply set myself a goal of writing, free-form if necessary, nonstop for 10 minutes. The focus is on getting words on (virtual) paper, not elegance or grammatical correctness, or even correct spelling. It’s a fast-paced brain dump.

In some ways it’s a variation of “Morning Pages” that some espouse. The problem with MP is it’s truly a brain dump / word vomit practice. For many people, that’s awesome. It’s lets them capture random ideas, or not, and have them in a place that they can refer to later.

That’s not for me. I’ve tried. When it comes to traditional journalling, bullet-journalling, morning pages, and similar, I just suck. I’ve tried them all.

I need a focus.

65 Thoughts was my focus.

I started writing first drafts of the essays as my morning writing exercise, in my note taking app (Obsidian).

Then a few days or a couple of weeks later, I’d copy/paste one item that felt appropriate into WordPress, the software behind my personal blog, edit the heck out of it, select an image, and schedule it for automatic publication some time later.

I’d also return to the essay a few days later for a fresh review and edit.

And then around the day before scheduled publication, I’d review it one last time, to make sure all was as it should be, and still made sense.

I kept a spreadsheet. Because of course I would. Smile

I used it to countdown to my birthday. This allowed me to know when I had to schedule essays to publish, including the warning and introduction to the project.

I completed the spreadsheet on August 7, scheduling my birthday post on September 10.

I wrote the first draft of this essay discussing my writing process on August 8, to capture the details while fresh in my mind. I copied it to WordPress on August 14. I’ll probably publish it, but a few days after the end of the 65 Thoughts exercise.

You and I deserve a break.

The big takeaway here is the power of a deadline. For me, it has to be an external one. Newsletters / email fits the bill really well.

Now to figure out what happens next. 🤔