Writer’s Surfeit

A couple of weeks ago I e-mailed a friend who, in addition to her day job, is a freelance writer. I needed some advice: “Recently I’ve been doing a lot of reading, participating in Twitter chats, etc., that has given me lots of ideas for blog posts and other writing projects. That’s the good news (I think). The bad news is that I can’t focus. When I try to write up something, I get distracted and read e-mail, check Twitter, look in on LinkedIn, or even start making notes for yet more blog posts and writing ideas.”

She wrote back, “Ahhh, focusing! The twin of writer’s block. It’s not as bad as writer’s block, though, because at least you have ideas.”

It was a bit comforting to know that I was not unique. Unfortunately she didn’t have a magic cure. Ah, well, I hadn’t really expected one.

Since around the middle of last year, I’ve been in an exploration phase, trying out new things (mostly online) such as blogging, Twitter—both begun in August—and a few interesting websites. I’ve been reading a lot about all kinds of things, from technology to business to cooking. It’s been a good learning opportunity, but unfocused. The time has come to settle down and concentrate on a few of the things I’ve explored. Except my brain is still in overdrive and most of the time when I sit down to blog I instead add a half dozen or so items to my list of ideas for future topics.

I’ve even come up with a name for this problem: Writer’s Surfeit. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, surfeit means “Excess, superfluity; excessive amount or supply of something.” That’s exactly what I have—a superfluity of ideas, accompanied by difficulty (temporary, I hope) concentrating on carrying them out.

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Taming the Firehose

I spent the New Year’s weekend at my Dad’s house, which these days is nostalgic in more ways than ever. Dad is a luddite and his house is a technology-free zone—no computer, no Internet access, no online connection beyond the “dumb” phone I brought with me. He does have a television (which I don’t) and a microwave because his culinary skills are limited. It’s a different experience. Lots of football, a little hockey, and no Twitter. If we want a weather forecast, I can’t check the National Weather Service website; we watch the Weather Channel. If our timing is off, it’s ten minutes until the next local report. Where has my patience gone? Ten minutes isn’t that long.

When I got online after three days away, the world had gone on without me. There’s a bunch of e-mail, a new connection accepted on LinkedIn, and I cracked the 500 mark in Twitter followers. Well, it’s not like I expected everyone to stop interacting because I’d spent some time away, but I’m wondering how to keep up.

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Why January Isn’t a Good Time to Start a Diet

And other reasons why not all New Year’s Resolutions should start with the new year

It’s that time of year again… As 2010 draws to a close, we look forward to 2011 and make resolutions. One of the most popular (inspired, perhaps, by the festive meals we’ve consumed since Thanksgiving) is weight loss. But I’ve got some bad news for you: January isn’t a great time to start a diet, at least not if you live in a part of the world where it’s Winter now.

I certainly don’t want to discourage you from adopting good habits and losing excess weight. I’m only suggesting that this may not be the optimal time to begin. If you start a weight loss program now and don’t stick to it, you risk getting discouraged and giving up.

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The Menu Toolbar as a Metaphor for Life

Spend enough time using computers and you’ll realize a few things. For example, my old laptop had a highly-developed means of sensing when I was almost finished and wanted to shut down; processing slowed to a crawl and the last couple of tasks, which should have taken no more than ten minutes, took 30. Pretty sophisticated for a machine whose processing speed was measured in hours and battery life in minutes.

MS Word ToolbarOne thing I learned early on is that there is almost always more than one way to do any task in a program. Save a file? You could use File|Save from the Menu Toolbar. Or click the Save icon which, oddly, looks like a floppy disk, even though very few new computers come with floppy disk drives. Or just hit Control-S. I’ve done enough copying, pasting and moving of text within documents that Control-C (or Control-X to cut) Control-V is a single swoop of my fingers across the keyboard–and magically the text is in a new location. Yet I’ve met people who rarely copy and paste who use the Menu Toolbar, a method that seems clunky to me but not to them.

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