#ROW80: Ten things I learned this round

Click to visit the challenge!
Click to visit the challenge!

So Round 3 of 2014 is over, finished, done and dusted. I’m happy to say that I did very well with my goals this round, to blog every day and use Evernote every day and learn about it. I did both, as I had hoped to do.

Here are ten things I learned from this round of ROW80.

  1. Blogging every day is hard. Coming up with a subject and writing about it in some coherent fashion looks a lot easier than it is. I’d sit down with the idea I’d knock out 500-1000 words in half an hour, and three hours later, have something that was akin to a first draft. I’m much less likely to file something in the trash than I was when I started.

  2. Blogging every day is a great way to come up with ideas. All my worries about coming up with ideas fell by the wayside when I realized I had a post due by the end of the day. I don’t look at idea generation as something to be studied any more. It’s now just something I do.

  3. My writing has improved. I’m getting to the point faster and eliminating the “weasel words.” I’m following Elmore Leonard’s rule, “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” I know I have a lot more work to do, but I made progress.

  4. Making more visits brings more visits. I focused more on visiting other blogs and leaving comments, and I’m getting more traffic. “More” in my case means double figures. This was something I “knew” but hadn’t put into practice.

  5. I didn’t ask too much of myself this round, and was still plenty busy. Writing a post every day and looking for future topics kept me running. I learned the most about using Evernote by using it to research things for the blog.

  6. I need to get back to morning pages. One area that suffered was my daily three pages of word dump first thing in the morning. I was doing them after I finished my blogging for the day, and by then I was too tired to write anymore. A shame, because I was taking ideas from there to feed the blog.

  7. I’m reading many more blogs in search of blog topics. Where my Feedly had roughly 200 blogs in it when I started this round. It now has 300, though some are dead. I also spend time on BuzzFeed, LifeHacker, LifeHack, Apartment Therapy (if you’re looking for settings, it’s great), Mashable, StumbleUpon, and others. All looking for things to write about here.

  8. Technology is a wonderful thing. I already knew this, but every time I think I’ve seen it all, I find something new that makes my life easier. Specifically the things I talked about in this post. Pocket is the center of my universe, because it’s so useful. I can funnel all my research through there and choose pages to save permanently, and IFTTT moves it to Evernote for me automatically. Last week, I started using IFTTT in conjunction with Feedly to move posts saved for later to Pocket. I could go through Feedly to move them, but it’s a hassle on the desktop. I can do everything in Feedly using the keyboard.

  9. You don’t have to know everything about Evernote to use it. I’m using it to save my research for blog ideas, and I’m still learning about it. But I’m not in that big of a hurry. The New York Times used to have an ad campaign selling its Sunday edition: You’re not going to read all of it, but it’s nice to know it’s all there. Likewise, Evernote is huge, but even if you aren’t going to use all of its features, it’s nice to know they’re all there. (You know what the New York Times could use? Comics. Funny pages. Like Nancy, Luann, and Dilbert.)

  10. I still enjoy being a ROW80 sponsor. I said this last round, but it was even more fun this round. It’s been fun getting to know everyone, and even writing the sponsor posts hasn’t been a hassle.

So, it’s likely that next round will be a lot like this round was. I’m going to continue posting every day (at least once, sometimes more than once), get back to doing my morning pages on 750 Words, and a few things I haven’t decided on yet.

For now, that’s the Thursday Ten for September 25, 2014. Hey, I’m 58 1/2 today!

#ROW80: Last Sunday Check-in for This Round

Click on the picture to link to the website!
Click on the picture to link to the website!

This week, I was sure to set up the schedule on this entry. Last Sunday’s checkin was more like Saturday night’s.

This round ends Wednesday, if I’ve counted right. I think I’m going to make it. The update:

  • Blog every day: Done. Last Sunday, I discussed how important it is to support your local library system. Monday was my second “Battle of the Bands” post, the subject being the jazz standard, “On Green Dolphin Street.” I did two different Two for Tuesdays, one being Art Pepper, the other the Japanese entertainment unit enra. Armyworms took over on Wednesday, as I talked about our recent battle with the pests, who ate all the green off the grass in one section of the lawn. Thursday was my 500th post here, and my Thursday Ten was my favorite posts. Friday was my discussion of the hacker attitude and how advantageous it would be to have one. Finally, Saturday I talked about Apple’s attempt at giving U2’s latest album to all of their iTunes users, and how it blew up in their face, and also posted my first Stream of Consciousness Saturday entry. Nine posts this week.
  • Learn Evernote: Well, I used the application every day, and now I have more stuff in my inbox than I know what to do with. I think I’ll spend time to clean that up.

So Round 3 for this year ends on Wednesday, and Round 4 starts on October 6. That gives me 11 days between rounds to get my act together. I know! I’ll write my sponsor post!

Almost over… straight ahead!

#ROW80: The round winds down

Click to visit the challenge!
Click to visit the challenge!

The end of the round is nigh, in 11 days, if I’ve counted correctly. Things have gone well this round and I’ve done some extra things that have made it a little more fun. The summary:

Did some good reading this week. I read Randy Ingermanson’s How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method. I gave it three stars: It taught the technique in an understandable manner, I’m just not sure I liked the way he taught it. I’m also re-reading Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering and have his Story Physics queued up after that. I never got a chance to finish the latter. I have a couple of memoir-type books lined up after that.

And, I’ll be a sponsor for ROW80 for the next round.

Hope everyone else had a good week. Straight ahead!

#ROW80: End-of-Round planning

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Click to visit the challenge!

I’ve been blogging every day now for two months and a week; a couple more weeks and it’ll be a habit. I mean, it already is, but they say it takes three months for it to really take hold.

This past week, knowing that I needed to get better organized, I downloaded and started using Sunrise, a calendar app that integrates with Google Calendar and Evernote and sends reminders of things I need to do to my phone. I’m using it for my editorial calendar (yes, I’ve decided I need one).

I’ve been doing all right without it up to now, though. This week:

  • I gave my weekly status for ROW80 on Sunday.
  • Did my first “Battle of the Bands” post on Monday.
  • Featured Survivor on Two for Tuesday, and updated the post when I heard that singer Jimi Jamison died last Sunday.
  • Wednesday, I talked about the latest trend in air travel: diverting flights because people are reclining their seats and upsetting the folks in the row behind them to the point of causing an incident. The conclusion we came to was they should make the seats unreclinable (if that’s a word), since it’s unlikely that they’ll remove seats to give everyone more space.
  • Featured quotes from Heraclitus on The Thursday Ten.
  • Friday, I gave my solution for blog spam: closing comments after two weeks.
  • I also noted the passing of comedienne and fashion critic Joan Rivers on Friday.
  • Finally, yesterday I talked about a British woman who discovered a massive wasp nest in a spare bedroom, talked about my experiences killing hornets, and shared a video showing the proper way to improvise a blowtorch to destroy a hornet nest.

I promise, once this round is over, I won’t give you a day-by-day listing of what you missed. At least not as part of the weekly check-in.

This coming Thursday, the Thursday Ten will feature ten things I’ve learned (so far) about Evernote. There’s a veritable plethora of information about Evernote out there, and I’ve been distilling it for just the things I use. So I’m busy putting that together.

I’ve also been reading, believe it or not. I finished Ball Four, which includes Bouton’s ten-year updates for 1980, 1990, and 2000. It’s an excellent memoir. Then, Fallon Brown mentioned that she had read James Scott Bell’s Write Your Novel From The Middle and had gotten a few good ideas. It sounded like a good book, even if I don’t write that much fiction, so I went to buy it, and found out that I already had. I went to my Kindle archive and found that yes, I did have it, as well as his Writing Fiction For All You’re Worth. I hadn’t remembered reading either book, so I retrieved both from my archive and (re)read both. I recommend both highly.

And, I managed to visit the blogs I was supposed to as well as a number of others. I’m a good sponsor…

Until next time, straight ahead.

#ROW80: End of Summer Edition

Click to visit the challenge!
Click to visit the challenge!

Last weekend of summer, and the end of the second month of blogging every day. So far, so good. Things are going well on the Evernote front as well. The summary:

  • Blog every day: Done yet again. I want to recognize Lisa Lawler from the Stepping Stones blog for leaving the 2000th comment here. Sorry I have nothing to give away, Lisa, but thank you. And thank you to everyone who’s followed this blog and who has left a comment since this blog has been around. You give me the push I need to keep doing this. So, this week’s entries:
  • Learn about Evernote: I’ll be starting the informational posts on this next month. I’m not going to get into too much of the fancy stuff, because I used very little of it, but I’ll make it as meaty as I can. I also spent some time this week planning out the tags that I’d like to start using with it. I’ve just been willy-nilly adding tags to things and there hasn’t been much rhyme or reason to what I’m doing. Changing the tags and the way the notes I have .

I had access to my Kindle this week, so I did some reading. One book was Along the Ravenswood by Eileen Robertson Hamer. It’s the second book in her “Chicago Stories” series featuring Seraphy Pellegrini, an injured former Marine and military contractor who moves back to Chicago and works as an architect, and solves mysteries along the way. I read the first book, Chicago Stories: West of Western, earlier this year, and developed a bit of a crush on the main character, so I had to read the next book. I had to give the second book three stars on Amazon, five stars for the concept and two for the execution of it; I think Ms. Hamer should have shown it to more beta readers and a good editor.

I’m currently halfway through Ball Four, Jim Bouton’s journal of his 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros. When it came out in 1970, all hell broke loose in Major League Baseball, because unlike most baseball books published before this one, he told it the way he saw it. Rather than putting baseball’s heroes on pedestals, he brought them down to earth, and showed what happens when 25 men between the ages of 21 and 40 spend most of the year together playing a kid’s game. Seeing players as young men who sometimes got drunk, sometimes used drugs, sometimes hung around on roofs and fire escapes in hotels trying to see women in various stages of undress, and who constantly ripped on each other, the coaches, team management, and fans, all the while worrying about their health and about getting bad news, like being traded, being sent down to the minors, being told that they’re being released, etc. made the players human. Like so many other baseball fans, reading it the first time made me a baseball fan for life, and it gets more enjoyable every time I read it.

One last thing: the Scrivener webinar that I discussed a week ago Friday was this past Thursday. I got the recording and have listened to it a couple of times. I was already familiar with a lot of what he talked about, but there were a couple of interesting things I learned, that I’ll probably talk about in a later post.

Until next time, straight ahead.