Writing a blog post

There are times when your day involves you doing something new and unique.  Those times can be nerve-wracking or exciting or both at the same time.  But often, we’re required to do more of the same.  We have the same morning routine; we do the same thing at work each day.  Your week is full of repetition.

And then there are times where the two combine.  If you work in a creative field, you might be asked to do something new in the exact same context every day.  Your repetition involves having to come up with a new idea, and that can be hard.

While I’m not writing a blog post every day, I have been trying to put one out each week.  So I thought that today, I’d give you insight into how I develop a blog post each week.  Hopefully, seeing my process can help you.

Step 1: It’s Monday and I have to write a post sometime this week.  I make a mental note to myself that I should come up with a topic for a post.

(Optional Step 2: On Tuesday I have a great idea for a post I’d like to write and I jot down some ideas in Evernote and start to flesh it out.)

More Likely Step 2:  It’s Thursday and I realize I haven’t written a thing.  I pick through my brain until I think of something that seems like it might work (like a blog post on how I write blog posts) and feverishly type.

Step 3: On Friday I forget that I’ve started a blog post and that I need to post something before the week is out.

Step 4: On Saturday afternoon, I sit down while everyone else in the house rests and prepare to relax myself.  Then I remember that I haven’t posted a blog yet, pull up my previous draft, throw in some new ideas, re-write a quarter of it, and hope that’s good enough.

Step 5: I post to my blog, and breathe a sigh of relief hoping that someone finds it entertaining at least.

Step 6:  See Step 1.

And it starts all over.  So as you look over my process I hope you feel encouraged and inspired, knowing that you’re not alone in your procrastination and filled with hope that maybe someday you’ll be able to come with a better process than me.

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Two Cool Websites

It’s been a crazy week, and as I continue an attempt to crank out a post a week (I think I’ve already missed one or two) I’ve got a few thoughts just sitting and rolling around in my head. None of them are really ready to hit the digital page yet, and it’s Saturday. Which means I’ve run out of time.

So I decided this week to just let you know about two websites I enjoy that have in big or small ways, changed my life. First up?

1. Lifehacker – I can’t remember how I originally found this site. It may have been while searching for a guide on how to build your own DVR. Regardless, I was sucked in quickly. Lifehacker shares tips and tricks for being more productive and finding some of the coolest websites and software out there. But where Lifehacker really changed my life was by introducing me to “Getting Things Done” by David Allen or the GTD philosophy.

I’ve spent a good amount of my life a disorganized mess. And I probably still am a good amount of the time. But I never really understood or appreciated the benefits of cleanliness and organization before I found Lifehacker. Now a clean desk actually makes me feel relaxed, and I find a geeky pleasure out of emptying my email inbox.

2. Nerd Fitness – A little over a year ago, a friend and I discussed getting together to work out a little. It sounded like it might not be too bad. I’ve always been a scrawny guy who’d love to put on some muscle. And right around that time, another of my favorite sites The Art of Manliness linked an article from Steve Kamb from nerdfitness.com. I checked out his site, and was blown away.

Here’s a guy who loves RPGs, video games, and all that is geeky in life, yet understands the importance of being in shape and carving out time to work out. Though I’m not yet where I’d like to be in terms of workouts and body shape, this site continues to give me motivation to keep trying different things, and does it in a way that’s clever, funny, and speaks the geek language. A year ago, I’d never have considered running on a regular basis. But recently I’ve spent three mornings a week on the elliptical machine. If you’re a video gamer who thinks “I could never work out and get fit”, check out Nerd Fitness. It might change your life too.

So those are two sites I’ve really enjoyed and have made an impact for me. What sites have changed or impacted your life in some way?

What have I been missing?

When Battlestar Galactica wrapped up a few weeks ago, part of me was glad that my list of shows to watch had gone down.  There was one less show I was caught up in to keep track of.  Instead I picked up a few new shows via Hulu over lunch breaks at work.  And two of them were shows I used to watch that got lost in the shuffle.

  • Life – I watched quite a bit of the first season of Life.  Following the exploits of Charlie Crews as he tries to remain calm and “zen” in the world outside prison provided a good detective story each week, and kept you hooked trying to figure out who framed him.  I missed most of season 2 (I can only tape one thing at a time and Lost wins out at our place), but I caught the last few episodes (including last night’s season finale) and I regret missing the rest of the season.
  • Terminator: Sarah Conner Chronicles – I was so busy with other shows during the first season that while I watched it, I didn’t really get into it.  Then when season 2 rolled around, I never picked it back up.  In hindsight, I wish I’d watched TSCC instead of wasting all that time with Heroes.  Real issues of trust, betrayal, and grief are played out well in this show.  Now I have to catch the season finale this week and hope it comes back for a third season.
  • Dollhouse – I love Firefly, so this show should’ve been a shoe-in.  But after the first episode, I didn’t keep up.  It’s not that it wasn’t interesting.  Friday just isn’t the best time for me.  Thankfully I had the sanity to go back and catch up on Hulu. It still feels a little rough around the edges, but I’m definitely intrigued, and I think the show asks some difficult questions intentionally (and perhaps unintentionally) about the human soul and what it means to be a human being.  Hopefully it’s given the chance to come back next year as well.

2009 in Preview

It’s almost here: 2009!  After a short drought of nothing new but NBC holiday specials rehashing other shows or showing a mixed bag of holiday videos, it’s finally time for 2009 television season to kick off.  I decided I wanted to put together a list of shows I’m looking forward to in 2009 (that I know about so far). I think the best way to look ahead to 2009 is chronologically, so here goes…

Sunday January 4thThe Unit – I don’t talk about The Unit much on the blog (if I have ever), but my wife and I have gotten into this season, which I hear is the last.  For now, we’re just enjoying the ride, and after it’s all over we’ll have to go back and catch up.  We both enjoy the action, and I just wish there were less scenes with the wives getting themselves into preposterous situations.  The only one this season I’ve found plausible/somewhat enjoyable was Jonas’s wife’s stress when their daughter was  captured in the Middle East.  I can’t wait to see how they wrap this season up.  Hopefully with a very large bang.

Sunday and Monday January 11th and 12th –24 – Jack Bauer makes his return over two days and four hours.  I expect good things from the opening, since last season’s 2-day 4-hour extravaganza involved a nuke going off in California.  It’s everything afterwards that I”m worried about.  The real task this year for 24, in my opinion, is to freshen up the characters and the formula.  We’ve seen the same 24 for a while now.  A different threat each year isn’t good enough anymore, we need something else.  And please, keep the same focus the whole season, don’t wrap one up and then switch everything up during the last 8 episodes like last season.

Friday January 16th – Battlestar Galactica – I’ll be the first to admit that I was a late-comer to this show as well.  I didn’t start watching until just into season 3 after catching with Seasons 1 and 2 on DVD.  I was drawn to this show due to the fact that it’s sci-fi.  I’m still here because the action is good, the plots are intriguing, and most importantly, the characters are amazing.  The ensemble cast puts out excellent performances, and I’m always left wondering what’s going to happen next.  Additionally, you feel like everything they struggle with within the fleet would be a realistic struggle in a society with it’s civilization ripped out from under them.  Plus, while you like many of the main characters, there’s at least one episode for each of them where you absolutely despise them.  In my opinion, that’s good writing.  Hopefully the last half of season 4 is a deserving end for this great show.

Monday January 19th – House – The general consensus seems to be, even at my place, that House is not quite what it once was.  My wife usually mentions her desire for the old three doctors to come back.  I have to admit that I like the new doctors as characters, but I know where my wife is coming from.  There’s no real chemistry or good back-and-forth with the new guys.  However, there is one excellent reason to keep watching every week: Hugh Laurie.  The real tragedy for House during the new year is that it’s been moved from Tuesday to Monday (a night already packed with good shows) due to American Idol.  I hope Fox uses its HD channels to air some of it’s better shows for those of us who can’t stand A.I.

Tuesday January 20th – Fringe – I didn’t actually expect a midseason cliffhanger on this one, but that’s what I got.  It definitely has me looking forward to the return of the latest J.J. Abrahms brain-child.  The interaction between Walter and Peter Bishop makes the show worth watching alone, and the creepy sci-fi science engages me even more.  I just hope this show keeps going strong and then knows when to wrap it up, as opposed to what happened to The X-Files.

Wednesday January 21st – Lost – This show was the reason it was necessary for us to have a TV after I graduated from college and got married.  I didn’t watch any TV to speak of during college and reality tv had basically made me lose all hope that good television would ever return.  Then one summer, I sat down at my parents’ and watched  a rerun of Lost.  I was hooked.  And while it’s had it’s ups and downs, last season was a triumphant return for the show.  It knows where it’s going and how it ends, and the rest of us have to wait in suspense to find out.

Thursday January 22nd – Burn Notice – This show is one of USA’s hidden gems.  There’s no cable at my place, so I started watching this one on Hulu, and it’s been more than worth it.  The action is fun, the MacGuyver-like aspects put  a smile on your face, and the writing is awesome.  The underlying storyline is good, but it’s well balanced with each weeks job for Michael.  You can watch both seasons on Hulu here.

Monday February 4th – Heroes – I’ll be honest.  There’s still some work to be done here.  I was apparently one of the few that thought that conflicted Sylar was cool.  At least it allowed the actor to do something besides be angry and smile evilly.  Other than that, it was an odd season with people getting powers, losing powers, getting them back (or not), dying, and sometimes being useful for a total of one episode.  The one thing I liked was making story arc a half season.  The downside to Season 1 was how much filler there was.

Chuck – The real reason to watch TV on Monday night is Chuck.  Maybe if they’d used Chuck as a lead-in for My Own Worst Enemy, it’d still be on.  Or maybe DVRs have just made lead-ins useless.  Regardless, Chuck has clever writing, lots of geek, and Adam Baldwin.  Chuck may be the funny geek who gets the girl, but John Casey is the man who has Ronald Reagan in a frame in his apartment.

Well that’s the look at 2009.  There’s a lot of shows to be watching.  If I had a DVR, this would be a whole lot easier.

So what are you looking forward to in 2009?  Anything I’m missing?  Anything I listed that you can’t stand?  Let me know in the comments.