Making The First Mark

For some time now I’ve been working on various projects, most recently Simply Written. This has had an unfortunate side effect, it has resulted in me neglecting reflection upon the work I’ve been doing.

It’s not that I have nothing to write about, I’ve got plenty of topics to write about, focusing on my design principles as well as on projects and personal experiences. So what’s stopping me?

Writer’s Block

The big hurdle for me is getting started. I have a lot to write about… so much that I’ve been finding it difficult to focus on getting any individual piece done. I find it easy to bounce from coding project to coding project, but that approach doesn’t work with writing. Writing deserves focus.

So I need to focus. How? They biggest thing for me, I believe, is to get away from my computing environment. On my Mac it is far too easy to allow myself to become sidetracked. Twitter, Facebook, TV, and instant messaging can all to easily get in the way of working.

I’ve taken steps to avoid such distractions, but when I find getting started difficult, it remains all too easy to allow these distractions to get in the way. Which doesn’t help. Fortunately I have found other ways by which I can help myself to focus.

Change of Device

My Mac makes it all too easy to distract myself, to lose focus. I’ve found that by doing my work in other means I am much better able to do. There are two key approaches that I have found that let me make the progress I need to.


Paper is something dear to me. It lets me quickly fire ideas down. It lets me iterate it. It lets me do. Doing is important. Doing leads to progress, to improvement. This is the starting point in everything I do. It serves as the foundation for my work, before I start with the digital.


The iPad has increasingly become my companion in the work that I do. I’m fortunate that almost everything I work on is text in some form. Code, journal articles, presentations… these all start with words. The iPad is very good at letting me work on these things, and letting me do so with minimal external distractions.


Focus is what these two things have in common. Paper can only let you create. It doesn’t have the facility to provide distractions. It doesn’t let me produce finished work either, but it lets me start. Starting is important.

The iPad can provide distraction, but is much more focused than a computer. I can only have one app open before me, which forces a certain level of focus. It allows me to define, and refine, thoughts in a more solid form.

Both of these are very different, but they have two things in common. They let me focus. They let me do.

A Promise

I want to finish with a promise. This is as much to the people reading this as it is to myself writing this. I want to do more. I want to write more, and write more regularly. These are things I will be doing more. They are things I promise to do.

I do it publicly so that I am forced to follow through. An unseen promise means nothing. An unseen promise holds you to nothing. Putting this out there means I have to deliver. What about you? Is there anything you want to do,but haven’t?