Today is the 9th day of the New Year. This is my 9th blogpost this year. I’m not smiling yet because the first week is usually the easiest to keep up the new goals. It starts getting difficult from here onward. How do I know? Well, lets just say that I’m talking from experience of previous years!!
I want to see if I can buck the trend and continue to post one blogpost every day of 2013. That’s 365 blog posts. I know many others who wanted to do the same too. So, I invested my time in researching for ideas. Here are some ideas that you might find useful.
1) Scribble Down the Topics: The easiest way not to stare at a blank screen (the dreaded Writer’s Block) is to have a list of topics. Jot down topics that comes to your mind. Don’t wait. Just scribble it in a piece of paper or email yourself. When you sit down to blog, you will have a healthy choice of topics to choose from.
2) Shoot Lots of Photos: I’ve realized that photos make for wonderful content. Its also easy to write a description of the photo.
3) Write the Outline: Write down key points of the article. Don’t worry about sentence formation or grammar at this point. Just the important points. You can later expand them and proof-read to refine the article.
4) Expect Mood swings: There are days that you will feel energetic and ideas will flow freely. There will certainly be days where your mind blocks up, your body is tired or you will have crazy deadlines to meet at work. Just be prepared mentally. Make use of the good days and see if you can prepare extra blog posts. This way, even if you miss a few days, you will still be on track.
5) Enjoy Sharing your Ideas: It all boils down to this fundamental point. Are you having fun writing? This is key. If you enjoy writing and sharing your experience, then writing everyday will be a breeze.
6) Write in the Mornings: It helps to wake up early. You will have less distraction to deal with. Write when your mind is fresh. Read my post on how to write 500 Words before 9am.
7) Read Point #1 Again: The best way to ensure you have content to write everyday is to start off with a bunch of topics. The trick is to keep filling this list. So, remember to write those topics down as soon as it comes across your mind. This is key.
Are there other tips that you found useful? Please do share them in the comments section below. Here’s wishing you good luck on your mission to write regularly. Cheers.
If you had read my previous post, “Be a Producer, Not a Consumer“, you would have known why I’m a big believer of producing new content.
Producing new content can be in various forms. Writing. Photographing. Video recording, Podcasting, Designing. The idea is to be proactively involved in creating new stuff.
Among all these, writing is the most crucial and the most potent. While I loosely consider myself a writer and confident of my writing skills, I’ve been frustrated with my lack of dedication to actually park my arse and put pen on paper.
I found a solution to the problem, strangely, through my daughter. One day, I took her to a writing workshop for kids. Since they didn’t object to Parents being part of the program, I stayed on.
Among all the techniques that they taught the kids, the most impressive one was the ‘Write anything for 3 minutes‘ task. The trainer told the kids that the rule was that they should not stop writing at any time. They are free to write anything that comes to their mind. It can be a story, an essay, an incident, an experience… just about any subject under the Sun. The writer reminded that they need not worry about about typos or grammar. The important thing is to keep writing.
I will never forget the sight of the 300 young kids in the hall, their heads bent down, focusing on the paper they were writing. For an entire 3 minutes, I never saw a single head bop up. It was amazing how focused they were. More importantly, the kids felt satisfied that they produced something original. It kindled their interest in writing. And post this exercise, I could see a visible difference in their involvement in the workshop.
I was impressed. I told myself what if I tried the same experiment. So I tweaked the method to write 500 words. And instead of 3 minutes, I made it before 9am.
The topic can be anything. It can be a personal diary, a blog post, an article for a newspaper, a page for my next book, a tweet. It can be a parts of all these. The important thing is for me to write. And to cross the 500 words mark.
True, not everything I write will be of good quality. It doesn’t matter. Remember, the experiment with the kids. If the trainer had told the kids to ‘Write an interesting essay within 3 minutes’, then 90% of the kids would have got stuck. They would be under pressure to not only to think of a subject but also under pressure to make it interesting. I realized that the same thing applies to me. So far, I was pressuring myself into creating” meaningful” content. If I wasn’t sure how meaningful it is, I would invariably procrastinate. And slowly, I was losing the very habit of writing. Its shocking that in the whole of 2011, I had written less than two dozen blog posts.
Now, the focus is on writing. Its on getting back into the writing habit. Getting myself into the groove. Once the habit sets in, I can turn my focus towards improving the quality.
It looks like the experiment is already working. I realize that I have just crossed the 500 words mark. 519 to be exact! And the time is just 8:22 am!
Creative Commons has been an area of deep interest for me and I totally love the concept and the spirit behind it. It was a satisfying experience putting together the book. More importantly, this book was an excuse for me to push myself to understand the subject better.
I have always been a fan of small, short books that are easy to read. This book will follow the path and will aim to explain Creative Commons in a fun, easy-to-digest, casual manner.
The entire contents of the book is available online for everyone to read. In-fact, the entire book is written openly on a Wiki. While we were working on the book we would publish each chapter as and when it was finished. I wanted to make sure that I used the most transparent and most collaborative method to write this book.
The book will also come out as a dead-wood version and will be available for purchase at Rs.99. This is more to cover the printing and distribution cost.
So, how did this book come about? Oh, its a long story. Got the time?
It was in late 2002 that I had first heard of the term creative commons. Honestly, it hadn’t captured my attention until the middle of 2003, when over a million licensed were issued. That was when I sat up to take notice. I started to read more about it in detail and took a strong liking to it’s concept of promoting creativity through sharing.
I was highly impresses with Lawrence Lessig, the founder of Creative Commons and how just by his sheer conviction was able to make CC into a very respectable organisation. It was the meeting with him and Joi Ito (who later succeeded Lessig as CEO and is now the Director of MIT Media Lab) at iCommons Summits in 2007 at Dubrovnik, Croatia and in 2008 at Sapporo, Japan that made a lasting impression on me.
Much to my dismay though, a lot of us in India were ignorant about Creative Commons (CC) and it’s advantages. I felt it would be useful to have an easy to read book that explains CC with relevant examples. This was a 4 year wish that finally materialised with this attempt now.
I wanted to walk the talk and use the very concept of Creative Commons in the book writing process. I’ve generously used many of the contributions from people who have shared their experience and knowledge under the CC license themselves. Many of the contents of the book are taken from the Creative Commons website itself, particularly encouraged by the staff at Creative Commons headquarters. We have duly credited everyone whose work has been used in this book.
The book itself is licensed under the most liberal creative commons license. This means that anyone is free to use this book and build on top of it. Anyone can freely distribute it or even use it commercially if they wish (with no obligation to share the revenues).
Its at this time that I should really appreciate the hard work and dedication of 3 of my research colleagues, Watson Solomon, Sushmitha and Preethi. Thank you fellas.
The preparations for the July 20 launch have begun. Will update you with more information on that soon. Meanwhile, please mark your calendars. It would be awesome if you can join in body (preferably!) or spirit!
Here’s the column that got published in today’s paper.
Phones that know where you are!
We all love taking photos on our digital cameras and camera mobiles. These are fond memories and would love to treasure. While we store them, what we don’t usually do is add information about each photo. A few of us blog or take the effort to give titles to the photos, but the majority of us just do nothing. Let’s face it. We’re are plain lazy or just don’t find it important enough to do it. Hence, the fond memories are consigned to the forgotten corners of our computer’s hard disk.
Enter automatic Geotagging. This is the latest feature in some of the latest mobile phones like the Nokia N78 that automatically finds out the location you are in and adds this information to the photo. For example, let’s say you shot a group photo in front of the Taj Mahal. The geotagging feature in the phone adds the tags, ‘Agra; and ‘Taj Mahal’ to the photo. How does the phone know this? Because the phone has the A-GPS feature (The Assisted Global Positioning System) and hence knows the latitude, longitude, altitude of the position you are in from the Satellite data. Understandably, you must have subscribed for a GPRS connectivity from your mobile service provider. (This is the feature that lets you access Internet from your mobile)
So, when you shoot a photo from the phone and upload it to photo sites like Flickr, details like the name of city and place are automatically uploaded too. Knowing where your picture is taken acts as a great memory jogger. It also acts as an excellent community tool. If someone wanted to see pictures of The Taj Mahal, your picture will result in the searches because of the automatic geo tag.
There’s more to just automatic geotagging in the latest phones. To explain this, let me walk you through an experience. Once, me and a bunch of friends did a cycling trip from Bangalore to Chennai. Being techies, we had a bunch of gadgets. One of us had an odometer fixed to the cycle’s wheel to help us with data on kilometers covered and average speed. Another friend had got an expensive GPS device that looked like a walkie talkie that gave information on the altitude and showed us on a map the path covered. And then a laptop with an Internet data card to upload all this information to our website so that anyone can follow where we are.
The Nokia N78 is in essence all these three devices put together. Amazing how technology has advanced. The phone can give the speed of our travel, time taken to cover the distance, average speed, the altitude, the map and more importantly live publishing of all the date online. Not to mention automatically geotagging all our photos.
The next time we go on a cycling expedition, we’re going to dump all those expensive paraphernalia and just pick up an A-GPS enabled phone.