A year ago, I mentioned that I was inspired by the Jerry Seinfeld approach of "Chains", meaning making a chain of events, and doing everything you can to keep that chain of events going as long as you can.
This same idea is also well represented in Aesop's fable "The Crow and the Pitcher". In it, a crow, dying of thirst, comes to a large stone pitcher of water with a narrow neck. The pitcher is heavy, immovable to the crow, but more important, the pitcher has some water in it, enough to save the bird's life. The issue? There's no way for the bird to reach the water... until she starts picking up numerous pebbles and dropping them, one by one, into the jar. Over a considerable amount of time, but with patient effort, at last the water reached the neck of the pitcher, and the crow is able to drink and save her life.
That may be a bit over dramatic, but it illustrates a point. Sometimes, we can make tremendous feats of energy, strength and bravery to reach a goal, but most of the time, skills are developed slowly, a pebble at a time. Being patient through that process can be hard, but a little each day can work wonders on, well, anything.
This past month, I've done everything I can to have at least one blog post a day, and to have more than one on standby in case I can't post on a given day. This has had two effects. First, it's meant that I don't write as much (meaning sheer volume in a given post), but the little bit I do write equals up to more than trying to make those herculean lifts.
I found something interesting in this approach. It should come as no surprise that, the more that you write, the more that you find you can write, and with greater ease, because it becomes a daily habit.
Additionally, one of the things I've found working against me for a number of the initiatives I wanted to do was that I always considered each item a blog post, as though the post were an atomic unit. Don't publish until everything is done. For the vast majority of stuff, that's exactly what I do. There's one exception, and that's when I go to events. There, I "Live Blog". I warn everyone that the content will be chaotic, the terminology may be messy, the grammar may suck, but I go back and do clean-up later, and let people enjoy the "experience" as it happens. For the most part, people are cool with that, appreciate the idea that it's an ongoing thing, and that I'll add to it as the event goes on. The net result is that those posts tend to be the length of book chapters (or more) at times, but I never write them in one sitting. Instead, I write them over the course of several hours, and publish them piece by piece.
I realized that I could do the same thing with my PRACTICUM posts. I've always hashed on them until I had a fully finished section. Sometimes that would be simple and take a day, sometime it might take a week or more. When it took a long time, I'd often get discouraged and go do something else. It also tended to stop up the pipes of any other "creative ideas", because "I have to get that next chapter reviewed for "fill in the blank" before I can do anything else".
Today, I am taking a different tack to this. I'm working on a series right now that will probably go for several days, maybe even several weeks, but I want to make sure that I keep writing and publishing something every day (it's a promise I've made to myself). Thus, from here on out, my PRACTICUM posts are going to be "semi-Live Blog" entries. What that means is each post will be a work in progress, and labeled as such, until I finish a given section. At that point, I'll mark it complete, inform all who may care, and move on to the next one. This way, I can actually write more, learn more, and keep my pledge to "do a little each day". Likewise, anyone who wants to can see the posts develop in real time (of sorts), and possibly help me make sense of things I might be struggling with as well, without the feeling that the post has reached "finality".
This may succeed swimmingly, it may fail miserably, but hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Here's hoping y'all will come and join me on this mad adventure :).
Michael Larsen, TESTHEAD