Delusions of Grandeur September 2016

Looking Back.

Well, I did it: a month of consistent writing. A colleague, Jaimee Newberry, once proposed I consider smaller goals that can be accomplished daily. She encouraged me to do them consistently for a month. A sort of personal NaNoWriMo, but for general purpose writing.

I have written most of my career—professionally—for one reason or the next, but I’ve never written for the sole purpose of improvement.

August wasn’t a month I chose on a calendar, it simply worked out that way. I had considered about how I liked to write, and what kept me so often from publishing. More than one friend1 encouraged me to write smaller pieces. I resisted—felt my ambitions could not be squeezed into a few hundred words.

Then it occurred to me that I could break up a larger piece into several, smaller chunks. Simple, right? It’s hardly a revelation that shakes the Earth from its axis—but for me, it was everything. Write less, and I could publish more.

Four weeks ago, I took a piece that was intended as a whole, broke it apart, then published the pieces over a week. As I edited them individually, each took a life of its own. The results surprised me, and I kept going.

Notes on the Format.

The shorter form gave me momentum. Less to edit, less to format for publication. I started with a few guidelines, but they weren’t sacred. I’ve already broken them many times.

  1. Target length is between 400 and 700 words. Definitely not more than 1000 words2.
  2. An optional, full width banner image3. This typically signals a post on photography.
  3. Minimal sections. I use an H2 only for the title of the post. If I need them, an inline H3 can be used. Often for delineation.
  4. A round-up post, published at the end of each week. This is written in a casual voice, without a specific narrative—meant as a behind-the-scenes. This—more than any other constraint of the format—allows me to be concise. If an idea or thought doesn’t fit within the narrative of a post, I save it for the end of the week.
  5. Footnotes, for sidebars and humor. They’re liner notes for my writing. I like to write a lot of parentheticals in my daily correspondence. Through the use of footnotes, I can appear concise, but retain my narrative style.

I have exercised a few of the different types that I hope to post in the coming months. This month focused on what was easiest to write about. If an article didn’t flow quickly, I pushed it off.

Next week is a new month. Thank you for reading.

  1. The Architect dings me for not listening to her when she points out my shortcomings. Among them, I write too much, and spend too much time, fussing over small details only I notice. Also, she tried for years to convince me that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a brilliant show (it is) and I only agreed to watch it after another friend recommended it. Another of my shortcomings.

  2. I broke that rule this past week, with The Camera in your Pocket. Again, these are guidelines. I said what I wanted to say, and nothing more.

  3. The first can be seen in Photographing California.