Categories
meta

Impromptu creative month?

I’ve never had much interest in National Novel Writing Month. Since my attempt to pen my own Tolkienesque fantasy saga as a twelve-year-old, I haven’t been tempted to try my hand at fiction.

But today, Shawn Blanc made me rethink my NaNoWriMo disinterest:

Starting today — Friday, November 1 — I’ll be writing and publishing something every day for the whole month of November. Though, instead of writing a novel in a month, I will be simply be focused on publishing something — anything — every single day. From photos, links to interesting things, articles, reviews, etc.

I’ve been looking for a reentry to creative work on the web.

I love this, and I’ve been looking for a reentry to creative work on the web. So, on a whim, I’m planning to follow Shaun’s example—posting something each day throughout November.

So far, so good; this post is Day 1!

Categories
apple

The “$100 iPad Pro”

The iPad’s “jobs”

There are digital tasks for which the iPad is better-suited than a smartphone or laptop.

For example, drawing on the iPad (with the Apple Pencil) is fantastic. Not so much on the other devices (even if you pair a Wacom to your Mac). Or consider minimalist text entry, for which the “iPad + Smart Keyboard” combo is uniquely suited. The Mac feels over-built for that simple job, and the iPhone’s software keyboard falls short.

Despite these legit use cases, I didn’t preorder an iPad Pro last week. Honestly, the inflated entry price scared me off; sure, I like to draw and to write without distractions, but would I do those things enough to justify that much cash? Probably not.

The $100 iPad

Other (cheaper) tools for the same job

I’m bummed to miss out on the hotness, but here’s the thing: I can meet these “needs” without dropping $1,200 on an iPad Pro, a Smart Keyboard, and an Apple Pencil. It simply requires some creativity—and some willingness to compromise.

Here’s my recipe for a “$100 iPad”:

Use Case #1: Drawing

  • A new 7” x 10” drawing pad. No, I’m not talking about a Wacom device or an Android tablet. This is literally a $7 book of drawing paper!
  • A few color markers for “funning up” my line drawings. Total cost for 72 fine and extra-fine colors: about $30.
  • I already had some nice graphic pens, pencils for sketching, and a big honking eraser, but you could pick these up for $20 or less.

Use Case #2: Minimalist text entry

The iPhone works perfectly well for distraction-free writing. In fact, that’s pretty much how I took notes in grad school—on an iPod Touch, paired to an old Palm keyboard. That screen was much smaller than that on my iPhone X.

Here’s what I picked up this time around:

  • A folding stand from Anker to hold the iPhone upright. Eleven bucks.
  • A new folding Bluetooth keyboard. (Unfortunately, I immediately shipped this back to Amazon; its build quality and typing feel failed to measure up. I’m still on the lookout for a decent keyboard that folds into a pocketable form factor. In the meantime, I’ll use this less portable AmazonBasics model, which isn’t awful. It cost $26 when I bought it.)

All told, then, since I already own a smartphone, I can cover the iPad’s core uses for less than $100.

The obvious disclaimer: the real iPad is better

If cost weren’t a factor, I’d rather have an iPad Pro than a bag full of markers and phone accessories. It’s convenient to have one device that can do it all in a portable, compact package. But, as a novice artist who doesn’t need a dedicated minimalist writing device, the convenience of the iPad Pro is not worth $1,000+. ■

Categories
meta

“More experiences with people I love. Less validation from strangers.”

My online audience is minuscule, and it’s likely to remain minuscule for the foreseeable future. My Twitter follower count stalled out years ago, my blog gets precious little traffic, and my podcast boasts very few subscribers. When I write or record, it feels a bit like shouting into the wind. Is anyone listening? Does anybody care?

Marshall’s tweet reframed this feeling for me. Yes, I’d love a larger audience, but would that really make me happier? Would strangers’ appreciation make me feel more loved or less isolated? I suspect not.

I want to use that feeling—of underappreciation by the internet—as a cue to invest in relationships that have a guaranteed return: my family. My friends. My hometown.

The next time my follower count threatens to bum me out, I want to be mindful enough to shut my laptop and go wrestle with my daughter instead. I want to silence my phone and sip a quiet latte in my neighborhood coffeeshop. I want to close Twitter, leave behind the iDevices, and invite my family on a rainy-day hike. ■

Categories
meta

Being okay with being terrible

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Lately, in addition to blogging and podcasting every day, I’ve been recording short videos and uploading them to YouTube.

These vlogs are pretty bad. I address the camera from my cramped little home office—a talking head with a weird-looking haircut. My ramshackle light rig casts a yellow, washed-out pall over my face. I deliver this scripted, stilted little speech, often spouting half-baked ideas. Very few viewers ever see these sad little videos; as I record this, yesterday’s episode has a grand total of one view. One.

Making something mediocre, let alone something that’s genuinely bad, is difficult for me. I’m very much a type-A personality; I was the kid who mourned every A-minus and who restarted a piano piece every time he hit a wrong wrong note.

And it’s not hard to see the flaws in what I’m posting, particularly when I compare it to others’ work on the web. Lately I’ve been watching a lot of Casey Neistat, vlogger king. His work makes me feel simultaneously jealous and ashamed. I feel jealous because he’s so damn good at what he does. And I feel ashamed because Casey and I are almost the exact same age (we were literally born just four days apart). Two thirty-six-year-olds, one who does amazing, admired work, and one who… doesn’t.

This self-critical, all-or-nothing mindset has sabotaged my creative impulse before. I have abandoned a half-dozen online projects when I wasn’t satisfied with either the quality of the result or the (nonexistent) audience reaction. My latent perfectionism sabotaged the daily discipline, grinding the machine to a halt.

The only difference so far this time around is that I’m pushing through that discouragement and trying to ignore the results. In short, I’ve learned to be okay with being terrible. I’ve decided to just keep making stuff, whether it’s mediocre or not. ■

Categories
meta

Does Steve Jobs’ creative philosophy (“Make something wonderful”) apply to obscure bloggers?

Yesterday was the sixth anniversary of Steve Jobs’ untimely death. Tim Cook, Apple’s current CEO, shared this reflection on Twitter:

Here’s a longer version of the same Jobs quotation, which Apple highlighted in the prelude to its September marketing event:

“One of the ways that I believe people express their appreciation to the rest of humanity is to make something wonderful and put it out there…. Somehow, in the act of making something with a great deal of care and love, something is transmitted there.”


I don’t feel a strong sentimental connection to Apple’s co-founder, but I find him a fascinating figure: irascible and difficult, yet undeniably visionary, even prescient. At times, he was childishly petulant; at others, he demonstrated careful thinking. So it seemed worthwhile to reflect on how Jobs’ ideas might apply to my renewed blogging and podcasting efforts.

Now, “expressing my appreciation to the rest of humanity” isn’t the way I usually think about my daily writing and recording routines. But maybe it should be; too often, I get hung up on “appreciation” flowing the other way around: from readers and listeners to me. How many times did listeners download this episode? How many views did that post get? Could I ever earn enough followers to monetize this site? Is anyone out there even paying attention?

This sort of selfish obsession quickly leads to discouragement. I lose my motivation to write, and I’m tempted to quit, as I have so many times before. That’s why I haven’t enabled analytics on this site’s current incarnation; I’m terrified that knowing how few readers I have will derail my determination to rise early each morning and do the work.

The Jobs quotation above suggests a more productive approach: ignore my desperate desire for affirmation and appreciation. Instead, focus on the work itself: creating something good, genuine, and helpful. That mindset makes blogging more sustainable, more fun—almost automatic.

Now, the end result may not be “something wonderful”, in Jobs’ parlance, but if I’m investing “a great deal of care and love”, it will be rewarding—to myself, if not to anyone else. ■


Categories
meta Uncategorized

New blog theme

I’ve switched up my WordPress theme, opting for a barely-customized version of the platform’s most recent default, Twenty Sixteen.

A few reasons for the change:

  1. I’d rather leave theme development to the experts. I don’t have the time or interest to maintain a custom theme or to leverage the latest WordPress features.
  2. I’ve been drawing more lately, and I wanted a theme that could showcase comics and illustrations. Twenty Sixteen’s robust post format support fits the bill.
  3. My previous theme (my own adaptation of Independent Publisher) lost its charm in recent months. My decision to limit the front page to post excerpts (rather than full posts) proved ill-advised.

I’ll continue tweaking my Twenty Sixteen child theme; better formatting for link posts and a snazzier main header are both on my to-do list. But I hope to avoid custom changes that would require ongoing maintenance.

Categories
internet Uncategorized

How did a month of daily posts affect my blog traffic?

Just before Thanksgiving, I made several “creative resolutions”: I would blog every day, no matter what, and I would avoid checking my blog analytics until Christmas. I was determined just to write—without getting sidetracked by page views, followers, or blog traffic.

I’m happy to report that I accomplished the writing goal. I’ve posted something to this blog for 38 consecutive days—easily my longest streak ever. Every morning, I wake at 4:30, plop myself down on the couch, and hammer the keys until I finish a post (or until I run out of time and publish anyways). I’m more proud of some posts than others, but I’ve at least established some consistency.

I nearly kept my second resolution. I had originally planned to wait until Christmas Day to check my blog analytics. But some creative reflection yesterday made me curious enough to peek at the numbers. I expected a marked increase in readership, after a month’s worth of content. The reality wasn’t quite so rosy:

Pageviews
My blog’s pageviews since November 16.

This pageview data seems so inconsistent that I hesitate to draw any conclusions. (The session and user counts show similar contours.)

Looking at the acquisition numbers, most of my traffic comes from Facebook. Yet there’s little sign of progress on that front; I’ve earned just three Facebook page likes since my blogging stint started on November 16:

Page likes
My Facebook page likes since November 16.

There’s a clearer spike in my Twitter follower count:

Followers
My Twitter followers since November 16.

But twenty followers hardly constitutes a major shift. Plus, the uptick has stalled—my follower count has flatlined since the start of December.


I find these graphs discouraging. I didn’t expect a “hockey-stick” trend, but I hoped for modest, measurable progress. I wanted some reward for my diligence—some motivation to write in the upcoming year. Instead, these middling numbers tempt to me to abandon my blog (again). Confession: I nearly skipped writing this morning for the first time in a month.

Understand; I’m still determined to continue making something on the Internet. But between family commitments and my full-time job, I have very limited spare time. I’d rather not spend those precious hours writing posts that no one will read—especially since I’ve sacrificed other hobbies to maintain my writing momentum. For example, I’ve exercised far less often this past month than I’d like.

Maybe I need to make a course correction here. Should I narrow my blogging niche? Rededicate myself to self-promotion? Break out my blog into its own brand? Or should I stop blogging for a while and adopt a different medium? Is 2016 the year that I finally try my hand at podcasting?

One thing’s clear: my consecutive-day streak will likely fall victim to a TV-and-Christmas-cookie bender this week. And that’s okay; vacations should be spent relaxing and recharging. The holiday break provides a good opportunity to reflect and retool for the new year.

Besides, after a month of waking before 5 AM to write, I’m exhausted.

Categories
Life Uncategorized

Checking up on my Advent creative goals

Just before Thanksgiving, I made several “creative resolutions”: new habits for the weeks remaining before Christmas.

As the holidays approach, here’s a status update on each of these goals:

  1. Post to the blog daily. I’m happy to report that I’ve published something on this site every day since November 21st. That’s easily my new record for consecutive-day blogging. That hasn’t always been easy. I’m writing this post from our car’s dark backseat, as we wind and lurch our way back home to West Virginia from a weekend visiting family. The van’s constant swaying is making me nauseous, and the baby’s overtired cries are making my temples throb. If I weren’t terrified of “breaking the chain”, today would’ve been the perfect day to skip blogging.

  2. Ignore analytics. Another success! I haven’t checked my blog stats since before Thanksgiving, either. I have no idea whether daily writing has swelled my readership. In some ways, it’s easier to not know. If the number disappointed, I’d be tempted to stop writing altogether. Let’s hope that on Christmas Day (when I will finally check the analytics), I don’t find a lump of coal in my stocking.

  3. Record a weekly podcast. Sadder news to report here. I still haven’t nailed down a concept that would hold my interest for the long haul. I’ve flirted with many ideas: a podcast dedicated to iPad productivity (I’ve been writing exclusively on my tablet); a podcast all about breakfast cereal; or the “Scripture in Culture” idea I mentioned in that original post. None of these have gotten beyond the brainstorming phase.

    At this point, It’s unrealistic to expect any recording before December ends. I’ll be satisfied if I can choose a niche and do some administrative legwork over the holidays.


So… I’m 2 for 3 on my year-end goals. Honestly, that feels like a win. Better to make steady progress in one arena than half-heartedly commit to multiple projects.

Categories
technology Uncategorized

Review: the BrydgeAir iPad keyboard cover

My laptop is too big for blogging.

My work machine, a Dell Precision M4600, is a powerhouse desktop replacement. But it’s also a behemoth—far too chunky to use comfortably on the couch or to cart around when traveling.

I could get a lighter laptop—something like the Macbook Air. But I can’t justify buying a second laptop just for home use. Instead, I settled on the BrydgeAir, a premium keyboard dock designed to transform an iPad Air 2 into a tiny Macbook clone.

First thoughts

BrydgeAir
It’s a handsome devil.

The BrydgeAir is beautiful. It matches my iPad almost perfectly—down to the “space gray” aluminum finish. The keyboard’s brushed metal, black trim, and simple lines make it look like something Apple designed. In fact, I wish Apple did sell this product; it would prove their commitment to iPad productivity.

Brydge really sweated the details here—straight down to the unboxing experience. Magnets embedded in the lid produce a pleasing little thunk when it opens and shuts. That’s a fun touch, although I couldn’t help but think, “I’m paying for those magnets”—when some packing tape would have done the job.

Why the BrydgeAir?

Choosing the BrydgeAir took months—or years, if you count the time I spent nailing down my priorities. Below, I break down my wish list into sections; in each, I explain how the BrydgeAir met the need—or didn’t.

Self-supporting

Since I acquired my first iPad in 2013, I’ve relied on an inexpensive Bluetooth keyboard from Amazon. It works reliably, and the keys feel fine. Most impressively, it uses very little power; I’ve never replaced the AAA batteries that came with it. Since the iPad can’t stand upright on its own, I added a sturdy, foldable little stand—the fantastic Satechi R1.

This keyboard-plus-stand setup works great on a desk, but it’s maddening to use on your lap. A few months ago, I decided I wanted to blog from the couch, but that meant constantly juggling the keyboard, the stand, and the iPad. Shifting positions risked toppling the whole rig onto the floor, and standing up required two or three separate break-down steps. My frustration mounted, and I started hunting for an iPad keyboard solution that worked better on my lap—with no shuffling, minimal futzing, and the freedom to move around.

The BrydgeAir fits the bill. It’s a clever design; the iPad slides into two rubber-coated aluminum arms, which grip the landscape-oriented tablet securely. The iPad feels firmly anchored when “docked”; I can pick up the “faux-netbook” from either end, without worrying whether it will slide apart. The hinges pivot from closed to completely flat (0 to 180°) and hold their position once set. And because the BrydgeAir weighs about the same as the tablet itself, the iPad can’t tumble backwards, out of my lap.

One downside? When open, the hinges stick out, downward from the base. They thus serve as “legs,” akin to those found on many desktop keyboards. That’s inventive, but it’s not particularly ergonomic (experts recommend that you angle your keyboard the exact opposite direction). Fortunately, I’ve never suffered from RSI issues. Still, there’s another related annoyance: these little legs make the BrydgeAir less stable on my lap; it tips and bounces as I type. I eventually got used to the movement, but I wish the BrydgeAir lay flat instead.

Not a “case”

Other iPad keyboard solutions require that you clip the iPad into some sort of case—often one that can’t be detached from the keyboard. That was a non-starter for me; I prefer to use my iPad sans protection. Plus, I didn’t want to pry the tablet out of plastic armor every time I wanted to read.

The BrydgeAir handles detachment fairly well, although the same friction that secures the iPad while typing also makes the combo tougher to pull apart. I typically unfold the clamshell to 180°, grip each device with one hand, and pull in opposite directions.

There’s one disadvantage to the BrydgeAir’s detachability: what should I do with the keyboard when it’s not attached? Aluminum’s not the most durable material; it seems unwise to toss it into my bag with months-old bananas and car keys. Fortunately, because the BrydgeAir’s profile is nearly identical to the iPad itself, my WaterField sleeve holds it just fine. Then, when I’m ready to head out, I can dock the two devices and slip them both into the sleeve (the combo just fits). That’s more fiddly than I’d like, but it’s no worse than handling a standalone keyboard, the iPad, and a stand.

Great typing experience

My AmazonBasics keyboard works great, but it wouldn’t win any awards from the local chapter of the Typists Union. It’s got the mushy, plasticky feel I’d expect from a $25 keyboard.

As for the BrydgeAir… maybe my expectations for a chiclet-style keyboard are unrealistic. It doesn’t feel like a significant upgrade over the (far cheaper) Amazon alternative. The keys snap a bit more, but they’re noticably spongier than the full-size keycaps on my Dell workstation.

Another issue? The iPad occasionally registers two key presses for a single keystrike. This is endlessly irritating, but I don’t blame Brydge—that happened with other Bluetooth keyboards, too. Hopefully Apple can improve the reliability of its Bluetooth stack in upcoming releases. Or, better, perhaps we’ll see Brydge support the new “Smart Connector” when it migrates from the flagship iPad Pro to smaller devices. Hardware connections trump wireless every time—at least for reliability.

Because the BrydgeAir mirrors the iPad’s profile, the QWERTY keyboard gets compressed into a fairly small footprint. Those with big hands may find it cramped (though I haven’t had trouble adjusting). And shrinking the keyboard requires other, more irritating tradeoffs. A few useful keys—all included on my Amazon keyboard—are absent from the BrydgeAir. There’s no backspace, for example; I miss being able to delete both forwards and backwards. Function (Fn) is missing, which makes the Fn + Delete backspace shortcut impossible to perform. Finally, escape (Esc) is gone, too, which makes it tricky to dismiss dialog boxes and (especially) the over-helpful Siri.

Speaking of Apple’s “intelligent assistant”, the BrydgeAir boasts a dedicated Siri button at the bottom left corner. I use Siri too rarely to justify such prominent placement. Plus, it’s immediately adjacent to the Ctrl key; I frequently invoke Siri by accident, when I meant to cycle through Safari tabs. Siri would have been better relegated to the device’s function row, located above the numbers.

Useful function keys

The BrydgeAir’s top row of keys groups together convenient, iPad-specific functions. Here’s the run-down, in order:

  1. Home. Equivalent to hitting the Home button on the iPad itself. I understand why this is here, but you can’t really do anything from the Home screen without lifting your hands from the keyboard. Apple doesn’t support keyboard navigation outside of apps.
  2. Lock. This key puts the iPad to sleep–which proved surprisingly useful. Although some reviews claim that closing the BrydgeAir clamshell will automatically put the iPad to sleep, that never worked for me.[1] With the dedicated lock button, I can quickly lock the iPad, close the BrydgeAir combo, and go. And when the iPad is sleeping, hitting this lock button summons the PIN keypad (which can be filled out via the external keyboard).
  3. Backlight control. The BrydgeAir boasts built-in backlighting, which is handy for couch computing in a dim environment. I’m a touch typist and a battery life miser, so I don’t expect to use this feature very often. Also, for what it’s worth, I notice significant “light bleed” around the keys (rather than through them). That could be a common problem for backlit keyboards (I’ve never had one before).
  4. iPad brightness controls. My old Bluetooth keyboard didn’t have this feature, but it’s a must-have from here on out. These keys are especially critical with the BrydgeAir; tight clearance between the iPad’s screen and the keyboard base makes it difficult to perform the “swipe up” gesture that surfaces iOS’s native brightness controls.
  5. Software keyboard show-hide. Typically, I wouldn’t need the software keyboard when using the BrydgeAir. However, iOS 9 allows users to “two-finger touch” the onscreen keyboard to move the typing cursor. If I were determined, I could invoke the software keyboard via the BrydgeAir’s dedicated key, lift my hand to re-place the cursor, then hit the key again to hide the onscreen UI. That seems clunky, but it does work.
  6. Search and browser (?) keys. Weirdly, these two buttons do the exact same thing: switch to the Home screen and show the Spotlight search interface. I wonder if Apple changed something in recent versions of iOS that made the browser key (marked with a globe) stop working correctly? In any case, it’s now wasted space. That’s especially painful, given the other keys that are missing (see above).
  7. Media controls. I don’t often listen to music on my iPad, but these are fairly standard controls on external keyboards these days.
  8. Volume controls. Ditto.

Miscellanea

Here are a few quibbles and notes that didn’t fit above:

  • The BrydgeAir boasts a pair of built-in, Bluetooth stereo speakers. These are wasted on me, since I bought the device solely for its keyboard / stand functionality. In fact, I hadn’t even tried the speakers before writing this review. My take? You’re better off using the iPad’s onboard unit. The BrydgeAir’s speakers sound relatively tinny and clipped, although they’re loud and stereo (unlike the iPad’s single speaker). Honestly, I’m surprised this feature made the final product; Brydge would have better off dropping the speakers—and the price.
  • There’s a groove at the front of the BrydgeAir designed to make opening the clamshell easier. It’s a nice thought, but you’d need very long fingernails to use this indentation.
  • The iPad-BrydgeAir combo feels great when closed. It’s heavy—but substantial, solid and secure.
  • Brydge designed the BrydgeAir to match the original iPad Air—not the Air 2. On the first Air, the volume rocker and mute switch mirrored the BrydgeAir’s power switch and pairing buttons exactly. Apple dropped the mute switch with the iPad Air 2, but the BrydgeAir wasn’t updated, eliminating this little symmetric touch. The obsessive user might wrinkle his nose.
  • I wish Brydge sold through Amazon. Yes, I’m spoiled, but I’ve grown accustomed to Amazon Prime’s two-day shipping. I ordered my BrydgeAir on a Saturday, and it didn’t arrive till the following Friday.

Final thoughts

The BrydgeAir is a premium product in more ways than one. On the one hand, it’s pricier than the average iPad keyboard. The BrydgeAir typically retails for $149 through Brydge’s website. It’s on sale ($129) right now for Black Friday, and the right coupon code brings the total cost under $100.[2] Still, that’s quite the price tag for a tablet accessory.

But, setting aside minor complaints, the BrydgeAir is also “premium” in terms of build quality and functionality. The device trumps nearly everything else on the market.

I’ve found my dedicated blogging machine.


  1. I reached out to Brydge’s support team for this issue. They wrote that both devices have to be “perfectly aligned” for this function to work. Then, they added this: “Some batches of iPad’s [sic] did have the magnetic polarity altered which has caused many accessories that offer the auto off function to not work. This is why we do not advertise this function as a feature of the Brydge.” Welp. Even if the feature worked, I probably wouldn’t rely on it. I need to know that the iPad is turned off, since I set a long auto-sleep timeout in Settings. I’ll stick to powering down manually.  ↩
  2. The code I used, “GoDoMore”, offers a discount of $30 on the BrydgeAir. It appears to work with the Black Friday discount.  ↩
Categories
internet Life Uncategorized

Early resolutions for Internet creatives

The end of the calendar year always feels bittersweet. On the one hand, the holidays are fun. I enjoy the chance to escape the daily grind, the time spent with extended family, and (let’s be honest) the unhealthy, delicious food.

On the other hand, as each year rolls past, I find myself reflecting on how little progress I’ve made towards my creative aspirations. Most years, I feel as if I didn’t make anything interesting—outside of work projects, which ultimately belong to my employer.

This year will be different; I’m aiming to get the jump on late-year regret by establishing some new habits. Whether you call it a “Creator’s Advent Calendar,” or an “Early New Year’s Resolution”, here’s what I’m hoping to do between now and Christmas:

  1. Post something on this blog every day. Finding time to write was never easy. But the arrival of our first child in March sent our schedules into overdrive. Our curious, energetic baby fills every day with exploration and wonder, from the predawn hours till well after sunset. Add in my 8–5 work day, and I’m left precious little time for hobbies.

    If I want to write, I’ll have to do it before the baby wakes. If I want a full hour to write, I need to roll out of bed no later than 4:30am.

    That’s only sustainable if I establish an early bedtime, too. Turning in at 8:30 does feel a bit silly. I also miss out on some choice prime-time TV: the presidential debates start too late; I can’t watch the end of my hockey games; and “must see” episodes “must wait” for Hulu. Those are sacrifices I’m willing to make, if it means I won’t feel like death the next day.

    What counts as “posting”? In short, anything counts. The daily post could be a full-length article like one, or a several-sentence commentary on a link to another site. The goal is regular momentum, not voluminous content. The habit is key; it makes writing an automatic part of your day. Conversely, if I skip a day, suddenly I’ve skipped three. Go a week without posting, and, before I know it, I haven’t written for months.

  2. Ignore analytics. Checking my blog’s readership too often sabotages my motivation to write. Building an audience is tough, and I get discouraged when few readers notice my work. So, for a few weeks, I’ll ignore the stats. I figure it’s better to neglect the numbers for a while than to get derailed by disappointment.

    My Google Analytics tracking script will continue to run when readers visit this site, but I won’t be checking the results until Christmas Day at the earliest. I’ve disabled the graph widget on my WordPress dashboard, and the Google Analytics site itself is strictly off-limits.

  3. Record a podcast every week. For years now, I’ve wanted to toss my hat into the podcast ring. My multiple missteps and false starts mostly result from a lack of clarity; what, exactly, do I want to talk about? What can I offer that no one else can? I like geeky movies and tech, but how many more thirtysomething white dudes do we need weighing in on those topics?

    One podcasting possibility? I could resurrect my long-dormant interest in the Bible. Although it feels like another life, I earned my Master in Divinity degree a few years back. Those school years—spent studying millennia-old languages; exegeting obscure texts; and learning about the ancient world—often seem like wasted time. Outside of the church, there just aren’t many outlets for those interests. My full-time job—spent working in SharePoint and Photoshop—doesn’t demand much Aramaic.

    But what if I could corral that passion into a podcast that interests a broader audience than Bible nerds and the devout? I’ve long contended that biblical allusions saturate “secular” American culture to the core. The entertainment industry loves to recycle narratives and themes from scripture. Politicians can’t resist the tempation to spout faux-religious platitudes. Who better to dissect these appeals to biblical authority than someone with a background in biblical interpretation? It seems like there’s room for an irreverent weekly summary of “Scripture in Culture.”

    We’ll see. Of my three goals, this feels the least defined–and therefore the least likely.


  4. It’s hard to build something great. It’s even harder when you’ve got a full-time job and a curious, nap-resistant baby on the loose. But if I can maintain these three habits between now and Christmas, I may finally beat the New Year’s blues that haunt me each December.