Daily Archive for February 15th, 2006

Five seconds to Fieldstone

I am reading Weinberg on writing – the fieldstone method. It’s a combination of tales from Jerry Weinberg’s long writing career and hands-on exercises.

I particularly resonated with the tale he tells in the beginning, about how writing classes in school almost killed his desire to write. It almost did that for me too. Working from an outline doesn’t work for me. I usually wrote my essays the night before, when I was angry enough to start writing. Afterwards my MSc thesis almost did it. I find it hard to write where my energy is not.
But apparently, something draws me towards writing of some sort, even though lately it’s been limited to blog entries, e-mails and instant messages.

I said “I’m reading”, in the first paragraph, because I got somewhat stuck on the first exercise, which is deceptively simple…
It is a test to measure the time it takes for you to start writing down a fieldstone.

I’m Sorry, did I break your concentration?

I thought,

how hard could it be. I’m in my office, I’ve got pens, paper, computer.

I failed this test. It took me longer than five seconds to start writing something down. The five second test showed me I had no index cards present, couldn’t find a pen and it took me much more than five seconds to open firefox, navigate to my wiki (there’s a bookmark in thet toolbar but I don’t see it, apparently), and find a suitable page or make a new one.

Clearly I wasn’t ready to start applying this method…

After this test, I’ve changed a couple of things in my environment. I made sure there was a fresh stack of index cards and some pens beside my bed (The title and introduction of this entry originated there). And I finally got around to make the gnome-blog applet on my computers’ desktop functional. I need something I could just post to, and worry about organizing it later. The wiki is great for writing articles-to-be and relating them, as well as for collecting systems-administration stuff I figured out eventually. Finding a new page in the wiki when I have an interesting link or something pops up is sometimes enough to break my concentration;
I noticed I miss a lot of the interesting links and stuff that come up during chat sessions.

I set up a textpattern instance, specially for collecting fieldstones, and the gnome-blog applet posts to it, and the fieldstone appears directly on the front page. That seems to work very well. The Blog button is always only one click away, since it is on the menu bar of my desktop. I don’t have to start a separate application, and it doesn’t take time to load.

screenshot of the gnome blog applet, hanging down from the menu bar
I took a first step. Make it easier to collect fieldstones. The next step would be doing something to organize the fieldstones after I’ve added them. I can search them already, which is good. Now I would like to have something to organize and relate them too.

If you have an interest in writing, want to try another style, or find your fun back doing it, I find Weinberg on Writing worth checking out.