To be like Neil and write every day

Photo of Neil Steinberg by Karie Angell Luc and borrowed without permission from Steinberg’s blog. I hope he won’t mind.

Nearly 11 years ago, I started this blog. This is the 686th post I have written in that time. That’s an annual average of 62 posts — roughly one post per week.

Those posts have been written in phases. At first, I intended for this blog to supplement what I was doing at the time as the editor of an award-winning small, daily newspaper. I wrote 88 posts in the first year and didn’t really start blogging until my newspaper job was eliminated in a round of budget cuts in 2012. In the first year after that cataclysmic life change, I wrote 227 blog posts. Blogging became an inexpensive form of therapy as I processed what had happened and figured out what to do next.

Eventually, I wound up at Loras College, where I have worked for the past four years — during most of which the blog was mothballed. Recently, as I finished a master’s degree, I vowed to use time that had been set aside for two years of studying and completing homework to write more. And so, since late July, I have written 35 blog posts. It’s sort of like going to the gym or getting a dog that you have to walk every day. Just about every morning, I get up, get dressed, pour a cup of coffee and sit down at my computer for about an hour with the goal of writing something. I’m trying to develop a habit, to keep improving with the goal of learning to write books 400 or 500 words at a time during the early morning hours before life takes over the rest of my day.

Neil Steinberg, a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, is one of my role models. Since 1996, he has written mostly three columns per week for the newspaper. Since 2013, he has written something for his blog every day. He has written nine books.

Are there harder things to do than writing something every day? Yes. Of course. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, however. I’m not sure how in the world Steinberg does it. I’d love to have the chance to visit with him about it someday.

For me, there are days like Tuesday, when I just couldn’t recall an idea from the previous day that I hadn’t bothered to jot down so I could write about it later. I jabbered at the keyboard for an hour, failing to finish something. After work, I came back to the blog and finished a post 12 hours later than what has become normal. There are days like today, when there are important issues about which I want to write, but need more time to figure out what to write. And there are all of the other days in which I’ll try to make sense of the world around me by writing about whatever is on my mind at the moment.

If you’ve read this far, thank you. Your interest in whatever gets posted here provides much of the inspiration needed to keep practicing, to develop the muscle memory needed to get up at 4:30 in the morning, get dressed, pour a cup of coffee and take my seat. With your help, I’ll someday finish the books I want to write — 400 or 500 words at a time. Sort of like what I’m doing here.

Thank you for reading. Stay healthy and be safe.

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