Behind the Scenes Exclusive!

behind the scenes

Hello, dear reader. I hope 2009 has been good to you.

It has been good to me. Maybe the best year so far. A year ago Raptitude did not exist in any form. It hadn’t even occurred to me to start a blog. That happened in January. And now I’ve got this promising little baby, though I’m not always the best parent.

As a reader, normally you see only the finished product, but today I’ll give you an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how these things are made.

Most Raptitude posts are 1500-2000 words, and take about five or six hours start to finish. That includes outlining, writing, editing, proofreading, finding images and publishing. So two articles a week takes about twelve hours on top of my regular day-to-day obligations.

I’ve never been much ahead of the game; I don’t keep articles in reserve, and I often finish them within half an hour of my self-imposed deadlines of midnight Sunday and midnight Wednesday. In other words I’ve never left myself much of a cushion for unforeseen crises or delays, yet I’ve pulled it off for the most part.

Until I left on my trip, I was extremely lucky, and was almost always able to slip articles in there before the deadline. Sometimes I’d have to stay up late, sometimes I’d toss an article at the last minute and start again, sometimes I’d publish something that I have misgivings about. Such is the downside of the Just-in-Time philosophy of blogging.

I haven’t been able to make the Just-in-Case system work. I just don’t know how to let an article just sit in the barn like that. Once they have legs they insist on being freed.

Sometimes, by the time my deadline comes around, I haven’t left myself enough time to finish anything I’d want to put my name on, so I throw together what I call a “Non-Post.” A Non-Post is typically a short explanation of why there is no real post today. If you’re a regular, you’ve seen them before. You are reading a Non-Post right now. Sometimes I try to weave in life lesson of some kind, and quietly hope that some of you will find some meaning in it and perhaps mistake it for a Real Post.

Because I quit my job to travel, I imagined I would have loads of spare writing time, and there would never again be a need for Non-Posts, and certainly I’d never outright miss a regular posting day.

Well, it hasn’t worked out like that. I have had much more difficulty getting my writing done in a timely manner that I did at home. It doesn’t seem to make sense. I have few responsibilities except to plan my upcoming destinations and keep in touch with people back home (which I’ve also done rather poorly.) I have more time and freedom than I’ve ever had, yet I find it so difficult. Why?

There are a few reasons:

I didn’t know how much I depended on reliable, 24-7 internet access back home. My lifestyle at home was supremely conducive to blogging. Whether I was at home, work, or at a friend’s I always had access to my Google Docs, so when inspiration hit (and it does today as often as ever) I could always rush to the keyboard and get the bulk of a post down to pick up and polish later. I was very well wired into the web, and I didn’t realize how much my lifestyle enabled spur-of-the-moment writing. I can’t write with a pen or pencil to save my life; the words come out of my mind far too quickly for that, and my thoughts are never linear. I am dependent on a computer for writing.

Online time is expensive here. Stupidly expensive. I pay between 4 to 6 dollars per hour here, and that’s given me a very good idea of how much I’ve actually become accustomed to using. Back home, the internet was at my fingertips virtually all day, and now, I’ve got to compress everything (email, Facebook, research, travel arrangements, publishing posts, blog maintenance) into a few hours every few days and that just isn’t enough time to do all of it satisfactorily.

I have two blogs now. One was enough. Really. Almost too much. I have committed to keeping a record of my trip on David Goes Kiwi, but I am behind there too. I almost wish I’d not even begun this second project, because timeliness is a big part of it, and I’m perpetually lagging. My last post was on the Tongariro Crossing, which was over two weeks ago. I wanted to have a go-to place for friends and readers to keep tabs on my trip, but keeping it current is a real pain. I will put a higher priority on it, that’s all I can do.

I am conflicted about sitting in front of a computer when it’s beautiful outside and I’m lucky enough to be here in New Zealand. This may be the biggest hindrance. Often I think “Well I’ll just set aside two days and catch up with everything” but it never happens. I feel an even greater duty to take advantage of every single day I have here than I do to get my writing done. These exotic, memorable days so precious, I can’t bear to sit in a library and Get Things Done when the trip of a lifetime is happening, live. Before I know it, it will be over, and I doubt I’ll wish I spent more of it staring into my laptop.

I need private time to write, and a lot of it. This was easy to achieve at home, living in my own apartment. On the road, however, I sometimes can’t find anything more private than the noisy common room of a hostel. Setting aside a spacious three- or four-hour period to get the bulk of an article done is much harder to do when I’m living in someone else’s house, or in a dorm with five strangers.

Things are far less predictable on the road. Often I believe I’ll have more than enough time, as well as the proper facilities to get my blogging done, and it turns out I have neither. I never know if my CouchSurfing host will want to show me around as soon as I arrive, or if I’ll be able to find an internet cafe open in a new town after 6pm. A 9-to-5 working routine, for all its drawbacks, is predictable.

In case my spotty December has given you reason to worry: I am not getting bored with blogging. Not at all. In fact, I’ve got more to write about than ever, I just need to get better at carving out the time and space to do it. I’m getting better at this, I think. Raptitude isn’t going anywhere, it’s just a little malnourished at the moment.

As of right now, I’ll be staying put in Nelson for a few weeks, and it may (here I go making predictions again) lend me just enough stability to get my online life up-to-date.

So I hope you enjoyed today’s Non-Post. The next post will be a Real Post.

R

Photo by sheriffmitchell



Lisis December 28, 2009 at 6:57 am

David, I know exactly what you are talking about. When I was leaving on my road trip in August, I thought I would just bring along my readers and show them every step of the way. But once I got going I found there were two major problems with that plan:

1. Logistics: finding the time and internet access to get it done.

2. WTF Factor: Seriously? You’re on a month-long road trip with the family, seeing awesome sights, meeting new friends, connecting with relatives, and doing all sorts of cool things you’ve dreamed of for a long time… and you want to be sitting at your laptop, staring at a screen, instead?! WTF?! (Not very ladylike language, I know.)

Point is: there’s a LOT more happening in your life right now than just your blog. You’re creating memories that will last a lifetime. You are learning about ways of living you never could’ve imagined. You get to appreciate how different, and how similar, we all are… no matter where we are. If this were a video game, you’d be collecting ammo and storing up lives for what comes later.

The idealistic “promises” you made before you left didn’t take into account the mindblowing reality you would actually be existing in. Those were made by David from the apartment with 24/7 internet access and not much else (of interest) to do.

THIS David doesn’t work the same way, not right now. And that is the beauty of keeping it REAL. We get to feel it with you, to sense the frustration, and learn from the inevitable acceptance… to realize, sometimes you’ve got to loosen the reins and let life happen.

As for David Goes Kiwi… what if you switched from “real time” updates to highlights of a month in review, or something. Keep adding pics on facebook (if you have time) and, if you feel like it, the occasional update on DGK. THIS site, Raptitude, is your heart and soul. This is where we can all learn and grow with you, and it doesn’t have to be on Mondays and Thursdays.

Loosen the reins, hon… ride the horse in the direction it’s going. It’s a glorious sight to see. :)
.-= Lisis´s last blog ..Inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe: Alone =-.

Vincent Nguyen December 28, 2009 at 11:49 am

Hello my friend,

Its been awhile since we last talked and I see your “heart n soul”(website) and yes I still think you are doing an excellent job of tending and nurturing it David.

I can fully relate to you and Lisis about the 1001 things that can come up during your trip away from your home computers.
My trip to Vietnam last year made it extremely difficult to have a consistent flow of blogs.
At the end of the day…you are still here and sharing your insightful thoughts. Kudos to you my friend.

The last bit of your comment reminded me of this quote Lisis :-)
Like I mentioned before David, great 2009 and an even better 2010

” Ride on! Rough-shod if need be, smooth-shod if that will do, but ride on! Ride over obstacles and win the race!”
—Charles Dickens—

Lisis December 28, 2009 at 4:06 pm

THAT is an awesome quote, Vincent! :)

Hey, David… have you met Wandering Earl? He just wrote a post about his first decade of wandering around the world, and I thought you might enjoy it:

http://www.wanderingearl.com/a-decade-of-wandering-ends-another-one-begins-part-1/

David December 28, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Ah, thanks so much to both of you. It’s good to hear my troubles aren’t caused just by personal defects on my part but by the nature of travel.

Lisis, you continue to put me at ease, thank you. I’ve been extremely relaxed on this trip, and my blogs are the only things that have been making me uptight. You’re helping me resume a long-term perspective about this whole arc of my story, rather than get lost in short-term anxieties.

Vincent, good to hear from you! You’re right, I am still here, still sharing my thoughts, just not with exactly the same consistency. But that’s temporary, I just wanted to reassure my readers (and myself) of that. Have a great 2010.

Tina December 28, 2009 at 9:23 pm

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” Teddy Roosevelt.

You’re on a grand adventure, immerse yourself in that, and let the blog fall back a bit without feeling guilty. Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to your posts, but I understand that it’s been inconsistent because you’ve got a really full plate right now. I bet all of your other readers do too…enjoy New Zealand!

David December 29, 2009 at 12:05 am

Thanks Tina. You’re right; adventure first, build an online empire second. Thanks for contributing to this collective voice of reason that’s been easing my mind this week. I appreciate your presence in my online world. :)

Lori December 28, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Hi David,
I’m a blast from the past, remember me? Please know that I’m always here reading, even tho I don’t comment as often as I should.

I love your Behind the Scenes post, David. In my estimation, blogging is a lot of hard work, and for me, personally a labor of love.

Whenever you have the time to fit in a post, I’ll be here! That’s the beauty of RSS. Don’t be so hard on yourself. ;)

I love your non-post, David. Actually, whatever you say I love to read – so, post on, brother, post on!

~xo
Lori
.-= Lori´s last blog ..Audio Greetings =-.

David December 29, 2009 at 12:12 am

Lori! I’ve missed you.

It is a labor of love, and I often feel like I’m not being very loving to my little nine-month-old. Thank you too for your reassurance. I’ve come to terms with it now, I just wanted the readers to know what’s behind my recent inconsistency.

Emily December 29, 2009 at 12:54 am

Thank you very much for explaining and keeping us updated!

David January 1, 2010 at 7:20 pm

It feels good to explain things. It was weighing on my mind and I’m not sure what you readers were making of the sketchy posting.

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) December 29, 2009 at 4:08 am

I’m glad your feeling conflicted~ play more!

can your mobile phone record? save notes to yourself? email them to you?

as for your kiwi mix, I only go for the pictures ~:-)

David January 1, 2010 at 7:21 pm

My mobile is extremely basic. I jot down notes all the time, but my hand just doesn’t move as fast as my head does. :(

Srinivas Rao December 29, 2009 at 8:43 am

David,

I know what you mean about 24-7 reliable access. When I lived in Brazil I wanted to blog about the trip on a daily basis, but the internet access as my school and my house was horrendous. It made it it really difficult to do any online projects. After a while I felt what you are going through about “Why am I inside on a computer. I live in the third largest city in the world. I should explore.” But, I’m glad to see your stuff here. Now I can understand why interviewing is a challenge :). Cheers to a New Year and the rest of your journey.
.-= Srinivas Rao´s last blog ..Guest Post: Working without getting paid =-.

David January 1, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Good to know others have had similar experiences. I don’t feel like as much of a flakeout, just normal :)

Iva December 29, 2009 at 8:58 am

Interesting post, David. Though I would be interested in lot more behind-the-scene informations (like did you make it yourself (Raptitude I mean, the design and everything) and if you make money with it, but that’s probably rude to ask, haha ;))

Anyways, I am familiar with this feeling of not wanting to let down readers of the project you grew very fond to (or yourself, for that matter). For example, recently I came to realize that the concept of what my site should look like has changed.

Then I thought this is not good because of my audience and I tried to hold on to the last concept…only to discover that I cannot. Because I change and so do my interests.

Usually when something like this happens, I toss and turn and spend dreamless night thinking of what will happen with my site tomorrow, which goes something like this: Will it survive if I change it ? Will it survive in general? I do spend a great amount of time editing it and writing for it. Should I maybe make it profitable? That is complicated. If I try, will I succeed? Will it loose its soul? I already want to extend the areas it covers -do I need more people for this? Where do I find them? Should I write in English and widen my audience?…and then I start thinking about why I even think about that when I should sleep and how I just want these voices of uncertainty in my head to shut up. Which, ofcourse, leads me to the thought how I could write zen article about why it is hard for us humans to accept all the uncertainty which comes with life :D…until I finally have enough of this mental blabber (your last post ;)) and turn the light on and grab a book just to forget about this.

Anyways, what I wanted to say is that all the stuff you are describing is what others of us are going through, too (even though some of us do have a stash of articles ;) But I am really glad you shared this with us. It always makes it little more easy for a site/blog owner when one sees that others have these kinds of problems, too.

P.S. I also like Lisa’s comment, she’s got the point. Personally, though I like reading Raptitude posts I would not mind if you posted less often, knowing where you currently are. Seeing those pictures at Kiwi, who in the world could blame you? :)
.-= Iva´s last blog ..Pronađite blagdansku svjetlost =-.

David January 1, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Thanks Iva. I’m on my way to finding a consistent middle ground I think. The horse is gradually catching up to the cart.

Jess December 30, 2009 at 6:02 am

Don’t stress David, everyone would much prefer you to be out adventuring than typing furiously in an overpriced internet cafe! : )

David January 1, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Thanks Jess! I will remember that when my blogging duties start nagging at me while I’m out enjoying the country side.

Erin December 30, 2009 at 11:20 am

Now I am nervous because I am launching a sister blog site to Prayer: the Gate on Friday. Probably I am in over my head. Well it won’t be the first or last time.

You care about us too much, David. You have a loyal group of readers and honestly we will continue to check in regardless of how often you post for a couple of reasons.

1. You write a thinking blog. No whining, or self indulgent crap. You think for yourself and write for your reader. We eat that up.
2. You are on an adventure. Many of us are tied to a routine, a mortgage and a day job. We are taking this beautiful trip vicariously through your blog.
3. You write well. I have spent a great deal of my career editing poorly written material with misused words, run on sentences, three times the amount of copy necessary to convey the idea, and little or no punctuation. You write well.

Thanks for all the great words and thoughts you share, and for being a gracious and an uncommon man!
.-= Erin´s last blog ..Press On, Stay Focused, Take a Risk =-.

David January 1, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Aw, I have some of the best readers anywhere. Thank you Erin.

Good luck with your in-over-your-head endeavor. I’m sure you’ll do fine :)

John December 31, 2009 at 12:02 am

Hey David! Really upset that I haven’t been here as much. Your journey is amazing and I’m missing it!

Don’t worry, we know you travel. Life is unpredictable that way. A year ago, I had no idea who you were. Now we’re at the end of the year and I feel like I’ve known you forever :)

Rock on, David! Keep it up – we’re not going anywhere.

Oh, and Happy New Years, my friend. May we ring in the new year with cheer, happiness, and celebration abound.
.-= John´s last blog ..What Life Feels Like at Almost Two Decades Old =-.

David January 1, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Always good to hear from you John. It is amazing how quickly we’ve all created this little blogging ‘neighborhood.’ Community was the reason I started blogging in the first place, and I sure haven’t been disappointed on that front. I appreciate the presence of all of you, even the ones who are reading this but don’t comment on blogs. Happy 2010 to you :)

Nea | Self Improvement Saga December 31, 2009 at 2:01 am

David, I believe your readers appreciate you and love reading your posts too much to worry if you don’t meet your posting deadline. I subscribe to the blog, so I’ll see that there is a new post whenever you add one. As a fellow blogger and busy member of society, I completely understand the time constraints. Relax. Relate. Release. You’re doing great!
.-= Nea | Self Improvement Saga´s last blog ..The Tranquility of Aloneness Without Loneliness =-.

David January 1, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Thanks Nea. Such an understanding and thoughtful crowd here. I’m flattered that my blog attracts such people. :)

Brad December 31, 2009 at 11:16 am

Maybe some shorthand would do you good. I’ve been looking into different systems and handywrite seems to be a good combination of legibility and speed. Here’s a good tutorial: http://www.alysion.org/handy/handywrite.htm

Because regular handwriting is a major pain, I can relate. I’ve always wanted to learn shorthand and I think it will really open up some possibilities.

David January 1, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Heh.. very intriguing. I guess I never knew what shorthand meant. I wonder how long it would take me before I got comfortable with it.

Angelika December 31, 2009 at 8:41 pm

… I’d like to join in with Erin. Wonderful food for thoughts.
“A mind once stretched by a new idea never regains its previous dimensions”
(dunno – anyone?)
Have a lovely trip and enjoy yourself.

And all the best, much health & happiness for you in 2010 !
cin-cin, Angelika
Germany

David January 1, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Hello Angelika. Yes Erin is an exceptionally wise woman and I’m glad she likes to come to this part of the net.

Love the quote. I’ll continue to stretch with abandon.

Have a great new year.

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