Writing is an oddly physical act.

Technically you are just sitting there, clanking away on the keyboard, while your bottom loses circulation and gets sore. (Maybe I need a new chair.) But keeping your brain running at the right tempo for effective writing involves a complicated dance of nutrition, sleep, physical movement, and environmental management.

The past few days I have been cranking through some projects, writing one or two major pieces a day. While sometimes the words flow, this run was more the molasses sort. I never seemed to maintain the right combination of sleep, caffeine, food, and activity to hammer through the content effectively. But deadlines are deadlines so I pushed through as best I could.

Take today, for example. I felt better than any other morning this week, so I ran to a coffee shop and carefully managed my food-to-caffeine ration in an effort to maintain a productivity-enhancing caffeine buzz. Too much and I can’t focus. Too little and I… can’t focus. I did manage to keep it going for a few hours and finished one deliverable, but then it was time for lunch. If I didn’t eat I’d crash. But I knew once I did, I’d crash in a different way.

Lose/lose situation.

So I ate, then had more coffee, then wasted an hour before I could write again. But at that point it was mid-afternoon, when I tend to be at my worst. Normally I’d go work out to clear the head, but that wasn’t an option. So I muscled through. As a result, my 600-800 word piece is now clocking in at 1,800 words, and I cannot figure out whether it’s better than what I mapped out in my head last night. I knew I should have written it right then and there.

And 1,800 words takes a certain amount of time, no matter how fast your write. Leaving me at 6pm to write this summary sitting on the floor, watching Peppa Pig with my two youngest kids, barely able to hold my head up, but knowing that if I don’t go for a run when my wife gets home I won’t sleep well tonight, and will be even less productive tomorrow.

Yes, there are worse work-related problems out there. I have held far more outwardly physical jobs, some putting me at great physical risk. But never doubt that writing isn’t physical. And unlike rescue or manual labor, you don’t get to release any of the stress through movement.

I am not thrilled with most of what I wrote this week. I’m hoping that’s just my usual self-criticism, but nothing really came out as I intended, and that is a direct result of being unable to properly manage my physical state to optimize my focus.

Sounds stilly, but in the end I might have blown an article because a cat decided to sleep on my face the other night.

In unrelated news, the rest of the Securosis team is completely out this week, so the rest of this summary is slimmed down.

On to the Summary:

Webcasts, Podcasts, Outside Writing, and Conferences

Favorite Securosis Posts

  • Adrian Lane: Deployment Pipelines and DevOps. Rich does a great job tying the series together and showing how and where DevOps is making development and security more Agile.

Other Securosis Posts

Like I said: everyone is out.

Favorite Outside Posts

A special note first – Brian Krebs is releasing his book, Spam Nation. I haven’t read it, but I guarantee you it will be good. Brian knows more than anyone about the computer underground. Well, more than anyone who can talk about it without getting shot. I mean, he probably won’t get shot. Er, I hope he doesn’t get shot.

  • Adrian Lane: A State of Xen – Chaos Monkey & Cassandra. Keeping a 2,600-node Cassandra cluster up and running is hard. Keeping it fully functional while 10% of the cluster is rebooted is fracking astounding! Chaos Monkey is one of the few truly Rugged approaches to software development I have seen.
  • Rich: Have most analysts completely given up doing “research”? An interesting take, especially because Securosis is quite profitable, and doesn’t do a single thing they talk about. Then again I’m not sure you could scale us.

Research Reports and Presentations

Top News and Posts