Blog Year

If you’ve been following this blog for the last month, you may have noticed that a) I’ve finally updated it and b) I really wish that I wrote more on here.  So in the interest of writing more and the fact that it is the new year, I’ve decided to do another blogging challenge.  This time I’m going to write one post a week for the entire year.

Here are the rules for this challenge:

  • I have to have at least one post on this blog by midnight each Thursday.
  • Each post has to be between 300 – 600 words.
  • Every post needs to have at least one picture.
  • While I can – and hope to – post more than once a week, only one post counts for that week and doing more won’t count for other weeks.  This will keep me from posting five times one week and then taking a month off.
  • I can use the scheduling feature, but only a week in advance.  This will keep me more present on the blog and keep me from automating the hell out of it.
  • I need to actually revise the posts I’m making.  Last time was really done off the cuff, and there were a lot of typos and errors that should have been avoided.
  • If I do miss a week, I’ll have to post twice the next week.  I owe myself 52 posts.
  • While this post is going to count for this week.  Other posts that are updates on how I’m doing or feeling about the challenge itself will not count as posts for that week.
  • If I get a comment on a post, I should try to comment back to the person.  This challenge is going to be about blogging not just writing.
  • I’m going to be a better member of the blogging community by checking out others blogs and commenting on three posts a week.  This will need to be done by each Friday.

While this might sound ambitious, my last blogging challenge was for 30 days straight and that went really well.  This is only going to require 52 posts which really isn’t that much more than last time and I’m going to have a whole lot more time to do it.

Also, you may have noticed the rules about reaching out to other blogs.  The last challenge was to really see if I could produce that much writing on a tight time-frame.  This challenge is to see if I can become a much more active blogger.  Part of that is sticking to a posting schedule, but another part of that is becoming part of the blogging community.  Lucky for me, WordPress has a lot of great tools for finding blogs and bloggers and reaching out to them.

So this is my new years resolution, and I do think I’m going to be able to stick to it.  I feel pretty good about 2015 and I look forward to all of the strangeness that being a blogger is going to bring.

Image via – Flickr

Why I Still Blog

Yesterday was my eight year anniversary on  They gave me a badge for it, so that’s pretty cool.  It makes sense that my anniversary is around this time.  I always get antsy for new projects around this time of year.

I couldn’t tell you what kind of site I was trying to make back then.  Probably some sort of Boing Boing rip off.  I do remember liking the fact that I could have more than one page, which was a leg up on Blogger at the time.

I’ve started and abandoned a lot of sites on WordPress in those eight years, but this one has been the one that I’ve kept up with the most.  That’s probably because I post just about anything I want on here and don’t do a lot of link dumps.  I have Tumblr for that, which I do need to whip into more shape but that’s a project for another day.

As I said earlier, I was on Blogger before WordPress.  I signed up around the summer of 2003. Before that, I didn’t know what blogging was.  It had been around since 99, but I really wasn’t that savvy of net trends at the time. To me it was just building a web site, which I knew how to do but had never hosted anything online.  That cost money, which I didn’t have when I was in college. The idea of quickly posting things online, for free, without having to mark up the post was really appealing. It still is.  The fact that apps like WordPress, and Blogger exist is truly amazing to me and I don’t think people take the time to acknowledge it.

We are constantly connected now – that’s painfully clear – but I don’t think most of us are aware of the fact that we can express ourselves in more that just a tweet.  That’s why I still blog after 11 years.  Even though the form is now seen as quant by some. I like that fact that there are still places where people can craft long form content about whatever they care about.

Looking back on it, that’s why my other sites failed.  I was either making their topics too constricting or I was making their posts a quick write up of a link I found.  The “anything goes” nature of the form is what attracted me to blogging and net in general and it’s what I’m finally trying to do with the Electric Abacus.  This is my place on the web to try out things.  Some of them will be successes, most will be failures.  But that’s what I like about personal blogging: the site can change as you change.

Featured Image – via Flickr

Writer’s block is a Massive Pain in the Ass

Writer’s block is a massive pain in the ass, and I don’t normally get it with fiction. Figuring out things to write has never really been the problem for me. The ideas are always just there and if they’re not, the simple act of writing usually brings them out very quickly.

This has not been the case with this blog. I would love to write on this blog all the time. I have total blog envy for what Wil Wheaton does over at his blog. He posts regularly and each post has this great, personal voice to it. It’s journalistic or distant like a lot of blogs – including this one at times – can be.

But I haven’t posted on here in months. Some of the reason is that life’s just got in the way, but mostly it’s been freaking writer’s block. I have no idea what to say on here. Sure, I have ideas but when I sit down to post, everything just sounds like crap to me.

To make matters worse, I build up this negative pressure when I haven’t posted in while. It’s like the longer I go without posting, the more I feel I have to have a really good post to break my not writing streak.

This is probably my problem. I’m building up what I good blog should be so much in my mind that I’m forgetting to actually post on the fucking thing. They say, “perfection is the enemy of good,” which I think has plagued me in writing for a while.

That’s why I’m putting out this quick post: just to break my streak and get back to posting. Because I like who I am when I’m blogging. I like the form and I like that posting on here makes me a writer again. I’ve been obsessing with the tech side of my life for a little too long and I’ve been letting this part of me go fallow.

Well that’s enough of that. No more being fallow and no more blaming myself for not posting. It’s time to try some new stuff and get back to basics.

It’s time to resume our broadcast day.

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Week 4

I only have two days left of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge, so I thought I would check in.  I didn’t get much writing done over my Staycation, but I will say that I liked the quality of posts that came out of this week.  It’s getting to the end of the challenge and I’m just now learning how to do this.

As I said at my check in last week,  it’s getting so much easier to just sit down and write something.  The plan after this challenge is to try and work on a novella that I have been kicking around for about a year now.  We’ll see how well I do after I’m no longer posting the days work for everyone to see, but I’m optimistic.

As for the other goals on my Staycation, I really didn’t get the media server off the ground.  That might be a project for this week.  I do have a script that can set up a desktop computer for me, so that’s nice but I don’t have much worked out for a server.  There’s really not a lot of work to do in setting up what I want to set up, you just have to sit down and do it.  All the research is pretty much done.

I did start work on my first paper craft project.  It’s a model of Spider Jerusalem from Transmetropolitan.  The site I got it off of said it was an easy project, but I underestimated what learning this new skill was going to be like.  You would think that cutting something out and folding it together would be relatively easy, but I don’t think I have the best paper and I know I don’t have the hobby knife that I really need to do this justice.  So it’s been a rough go of it.
Today is the 28th day in a row that I have written.  I know this because I have an app on my phone that I keep track of this with.  That app also tells me that this streak is tied with a chain I did last year.  That chain was the longest I had ever gone with writing every day.  That means that if I write tomorrow, I will have written more times in a row than I have in my entire life.

See you tomorrow.

30 Day Blogging Challange: Week 3

Three weeks in and the 30 day blogging challenge is going pretty good.  I guess I’ve started the home stretch, and it’s starting to strain my stamina. The everyday grind is something that I was both under and over estimate.  Coming up with concepts for each night is becoming more difficult, but it’s becoming easier to sit down each night and start writing.  That is the exact opposite of how I thought all this was going to go.

The hardest part of writing for me has always been sitting down to write.  Once I get in the chair I’m usually okay, but starting writing has always been a problem.  But not for the last two weeks.  It’s been getting easy and easier to just start writing.  I guess that’s because I have a separate desktop that I use only for writing.  (On Macs you can have more than one desktop and switch between them.  It’s a great productivity tool.)  That way I can just sit down and start writing because I’m in my “writing space.”  That I and I give myself permission to just write anything and throw out what I don’t like.  I do that with fiction writing as well, but it seems more real to me when I’m blogging.  Not sure what that is.

I also write a hell of lot faster when I’m blogging.  Normally I’m so slow when I’m writing fiction, but I just fly on a blog post.  Sometimes about four times as fast.

So this week presented itself with a unique challenge that I was wondering when it would show up: I was at a party and drunk when it came time to post.  I was actually going to let myself slip past my deadline by a few hours but my friend were very supportive and convinced me to write the post on my iPhone.  Something I’ve been wanting to experiment with for a while now.  The post turned out okay, even if it was a little raw.  Strictly speaking I was a few words under my minimum of 300 words, but since I didn’t have a word counter on the phone and I’ve been a few words over my maximum of 600 on some other posts, I’m going to count it.

I only have week and two days left until the end of the challenge.  Luckily the holidays are coming up and I’ve taken a few days off which should give me more than enough time to work on some really good ending posts.

Stay tuned.

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Week 2

It’s the second week of my blogging challenge and how am I doing?  Well, I haven’t quite yet, but I still haven’t wrote a post ahead so I’m always working on my posts about two hours before the midnight deadline.  I guess I haven’t talked about that before.  Another rule to this blogging challenge that I set myself is that I have to have the blog posted before midnight for the post to count for that day.  This keeps me for putting it off and putting it off until this three in the morning on a work day and I just give myself permission to go to bed.

I’ve been down this road with these kinds of self challenges before so I know all of my sneaky tricks that I use to get out of them.  It sounds like I don’t like writing doesn’t it?  Like if I was so in love with this, why don’t I just easy bang out thousands of words at a go?  Why all the games?

Because writing is hard.  That is why I love it, but to do it well takes a lot of effort.  You have to dig within yourself and find the Good Stuff that buried within a lot of just Okay Stuff.  It’s not always the most fun process.  Cupled with the fact that writing when you aren’t getting paid for it requires creating a habit within yourself.  I have been very, very bad at this.  Even in college when I was writing the most, I only did it a few days a month.  And I still managed to write over 20 short stories in just a few years.

But the writing has been easy for the last few weeks.  And something happened to me this week that should make things a lot easier: I got new glasses.  Normally that shouldn’t impact writing but I haven’t had new glasses in about six years.  In that time, my old ones had been screeched to hell and back, so it would get a little annoying to write at the computer for  long periods of time.  I could just focus on what I was doing and ignore the scratches but after a while It would get to me.  More the fact that I hadn’t gotten around to fixing the damn things than my eyes, but both were in play.

As far as the other things I’ve been doing aside from just writing, adding the blog to StumbleUpon was one of the best things I could have done.  My added readership has just about doubled, so if you have a blog, I highly recommend it.  Look forward to me trying more things with the blog.  I’m going to try finding some free pictures to add to posts so that they pop a little more. And I’m probably going to connect the blog to Google plus at the very least.

The challenge is going well so far.  I’m at the halfway point so I think I might be able to do this one.

30 Blogging Challenge: Week 1


The above is an app is called Goal Streaks and I use to keep track things that I want to do regularly.  Each day I write or post, I click the day and get a little X.  It sounds silly but it keeps me writing.  You’ll notice that with today’s post, I will have written a posted to this blog for seven consecutive days.

Since this is the end of my first week of posting, I thought I would do a little write up on how I’ve been doing so far with the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.  It started out pretty easy, I had about two posts in my head and I was sandbagging by writing a day ahead of when I would publish.  I’ve subsequently lost that lead by getting writer’s block in the middle of a post and having wait until the next day to get over it.

So right now, I’m writing this post on the day I’m going to publish it, but I have a few hours until I have to go try out a new coffee shop, so I’ll try to recapture that lead or at the very least clean up my damn desk which is covered in clutter.

One thing I didn’t count on was how long the posts were going to be.  My range for a post to count on this blog was between 300 – 600 words.  I figured that the average was going to be in the low three hundreds because  I would be struggling for something to say.  In fact I average around 530 for a post.  Maybe that means I take way to damn long to get to my point, but I think it means that I’m getting back into my pure love of writing.

In the If-It-Was-a-Snake-It-Would-Have-Bit-Me Department: the day after a published the post with my intent to do my 30 Day Blogging Challenge, I find that there of course is an official November blogging challenge called NaBloPoMo – or National Blog Posting Month.  I didn’t actually sign up for it because I had missed the dead line by one day.  Such is life.  It hasn’t seemed to’ve stopped me though.

The weekend was kind of rough with me coming in about 20 minutes before midnight both nights.  So that’s something that I have to be aware of for next week because I’m probably not going to be any more motivated next weekend than I was the last.  I’m really going to have to make a concerted effort to regain my day lead time.

Now that I have a little bit of a body of work on here, I’ve started experimenting with the blogging medium itself.  Last night I registered the blog with the social media site StumbleUpon.  I’ve gotten more traffic to this blog in one day then I have in its entire life.  So if you are here from StumbleUpon, thanks for visiting and feel free to come back.  If you’re a regular visitor to the site, you’ll notice that I keep changing the layout.  I’m still trying to find something that I really like.  I can’t currently edit the CSS of the site, but I’m going to start playing with that on my development computer and if I come up with something good, you see it soon.

I think that about covers it for now.  I’m going to mess with some stuff on the back end of the site and try to do some more writing on other posts.  I think this challenge is going well so far, so I can honestly say this: I’ll see you tomorrow.

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Go!

This month is November and as you all know, November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.  Every year I try to write a novel and fail before I can even get started.  This is normally because I haven’t written anything in months and then I just want to run the marathon that is writing 50,000 words in a month.

That’s a lot for even published writers to do.  (I’m looking at you, George R. R. Martin.) So it should come as no great shock to anyone but me that writing in that volume would be difficult for the guy with the day job and the girlfriend.

This year, I’m going to be trying something a little different.  I’m going to try and post to this blog every day for a month.  Now I know what you’re thinking, Reader-I-Just-Made-Up, “but you’ve only started posting yesterday – the 5th – and blog post only has to be a few words.”

Well, I hadn’t thought of this six days ago so I will keep posting without a break until the 5th of December, and each post on here has to be at least 300 – 600 words.  (I understand that this isn’t Twitter.) That’ll give me a nice body of work: about 13,000 words on average.  Not a novel, but certainly a decent chunk of writing.  More than I have done in a long time.

There’s also the added bonus of seeing what I’m doing in “print” as I’m going, which should help with pushing through those days when I just don’t want to write anything.   Another safety catch is that I’m sandbagging by one day.  Each day, I’m not going to post directly into by blogging software.  I’m writing each post into Pages and putting it up the next day.  That way I start each writing day with a mark in the win column.  We’ll see how long that lasts but as you are reading this, I’ve already written three days in a row.

It feels like it’s going to be a nice system and keep a buffer from the immediacy of blogging.  While I like blogging, the fact that you can hit the publish button at any moment can make me feel like I’m giving a speech in public.  That’s another reason why I’m writing in a text editor and not the blogging software itself.

So what do I get if I manage to post for 30 days in a row? Conventional wisdom says that I should be working towards a reward other than just the goal itself.  If you finish the actual NaNoWriMo, you get a shirt, so what am I getting?

To be honest, I can’t really think of anything I want more than to have written over 10,000 words in a month, so stay tuned while I try to think of something I should be giving myself.  Or you could help suggest something in the comments.  I’m thinking a steak and a beer, but since a steak is the only thing I can cook and I brew beer, it’s going to have to be one fucking epic steak and beer.

But I’m getting ahead of myself like I always do.  First: the work.