small medium large xlarge

12 Nov 2010, 14:46
Susannah Davidson Pfalzer (114 posts)

We’re two weeks in to PragProWriMo, and you’re all making amazing progress! Writing every day not only is starting to produce lots of prose, but is also giving some of you new ideas and taking you in directions you hadn’t expected. So, let’s check in:

  • What’s your page count so far?

  • What challenges did you face this week? How about successes?

  • How will you continue to keep up your momentum next week?

12 Nov 2010, 15:21
Daniel de Kok (38 posts)

Hi Susannah,

What’s your page count so far?

We are currently at 39 A4 pages.

What challenges did you face this week?

Our book covers natural language processing, but provides an introduction to Haskell at the same time. It is sometimes difficult to keep both aspects of the book in sync. Covering enough of Haskell to be able to implement the NLP stuff, covering enough NLP to keep it an NLP book.

How about successes?

I am really convinced now that covering NLP jointly with Haskell was a good idea. For example, in one chapter, we cover transformation-based part-of-speech tagging (taggers assign morphosyntactic categories to words). Crafting transformation rule templates in Haskell is sweet and simple. Seeing these worlds come together is magical.

Of course, we had written NLP programs in Haskell before. But for this book we have to walk the long road, and rethink our knowledge for a functional world. We are immensely enjoying it :).

How will you continue to keep up your momentum next week?

Just proceeding as we are working now. Our workflow has improved after switching to DocBook and a decent DocBook editor (before, it was hard to keep things consistent). We expect to slow down a little, as the examples become longer and more complex.

Current state:

12 Nov 2010, 15:48
Bob Cochran (170 posts)

Hi Susannah,

I am at 24 pages (US letter sized.)

For me the challenges are always keeping my theme in focus – I think a lot of software people don’t behave as well as they could when working on projects that use some type of a formalized software development life cycle, but I’m also seeing that the enterprise can certainly contribute to the attitudes of the developers. Also it has been difficult to keep up with my writing committment, but I believe I am succeeding. I have had exhilarating moments where the words flow better and I think I have a good grasp of the points I am trying to make.

This weekend I will spend time reviewing my progress and then using that as a compass pointing me to where I want to go for the week to come. I think reviewing my work more frequently will be helpful to me.


12 Nov 2010, 15:53
Travis Swicegood (117 posts)

Just wrapped up my pomodoros for the day with this as my final count:

    2020   10940   72933 total

Actual PDF pages using Sphinx is at 75 8.5x11 pages, 28’ish of which are content.

Today was a little rocky as I found an issue in some earlier code I had written and had to circle back on it, fix the code, and explain what we were doing (and why). Not a ton of new material today, but the book’s better for what was written today.

No particular challenges this week (other than today’s). My biggest hurdle toward writing so far is making sure to write in the morning. If I don’t, it’s a struggle to get anything down.

One thing that’s caught me off guard the last few days is writing code. My style (one that’s been honed by Susannah) is to explain what needs to happen, show it happening (code, commands, etc.), then if necessary break down example step by step explaining it in further detail. The last few days have been pretty heavy on code, so it feels like I’m not writing as much. All that said, I’m happy with what the result has been, just wish I could keep that 1000+ words a day going when writing code + explainations.

12 Nov 2010, 16:33
UlrichMerkel (23 posts)

Hi Susannah

* What’s your page count so far? 22 pages, some 5000+ words in 7 days

* What challenges did you face this week? How about successes? still writing "random chapters" practising evolutionary delivery on each of them. think by the end of next week I will have the "critical mass"  to fix the scope of the 1-month-done delivery to start weaving all these chapters into a book

success: found my alter-ego “uMe” so I can add all kind of comments, “grasshopper” lectures etc.

* How will you continue to keep up your momentum next week? becoming more used writing in the morning (5:00 to 6:45 am)  and carry a special notepad ALWAYS with me to catch all ideas and sparks which needs elaboration - still think about including some of these notes/napkins in the book to use different media

will post an updated PDF to within 24 hrs. (according to plan, according to plan, ..)

Success, Uli

12 Nov 2010, 17:23
Susannah Davidson Pfalzer (114 posts)

Ulrich - Great idea about the notepad! Those bits of inspiration can be fleeting; grab them when you can.

Travis - I know what you mean, the back-end code writing makes it hard to get that page count target accomplished. But it’s necessary work in the end, of course. Keep it up with the morning writing!

Bob - Ah, keeping focus. That’s the goal, and you’re certainly writing your way toward it. By the end of next week you might want to take stock of where you are and perhaps start outlining the missing sections of the book to see how things can start flowing together as a whole.

Daniel - Sounds like you have found the workflow and tools that work for you - that’s a huge part of what’s needed!

12 Nov 2010, 18:07
Michael Swaine (69 posts)

FWIW, I’ve finished 51 pages of revision now. I’m revising an existing book and it’s a novel rather than a tech book, but I wanted to play along in some fashion. 51 pages is half of the first section of the book, and I’ll be happy if I get that first section revised in November, although I’d like to pick up the pace and get to the halfway point of the book. Then I’d be motivated to finish the whole thing by the end of the year. Reading of your progress is inspiring. Keep it up!

12 Nov 2010, 20:08
Raymond Yee (47 posts)

Here’s my current progress:

  • page count = 21 pages 8200 words

  • major challenges: fitting writing into my schedule if I don’t do it first thing in the morning. Even when I do manage to fit a good amount of time in the morning, my progress has been slower than anticipated. (I was surprised by how long it took me to write even 500 words (of mediocre quality).)

  • major successes: making myself write later in the evening, largely because people like Bob Cochran are actually paying attention to whether I make progress or not! :-)

  • how to keep up the momentum: actually not get too discouraged should the word count not be as high as I was anticipating but taking pride in writing something each day.

Daniel – I look forward to hearing more about NLP + Haskell. Using pandoc (a document converter written in Haskell) has made me think that maybe I should bump Haskell up in my list of languages to learn.

Bob – I look forward to hearing where you by the end of the weekend.

Travis – you’ve made me think about whether I should make the leap to reST from markdown, though markdown has been good enough to help me write.

Ulrich – your using “evolutionary delivery” for writing makes me smile since we software developers can certainly relate.

Michael – I’m glad that you’re joining in PragProWriMo even though you are working on revising your novel.

Susannah – thanks for checking in on us all!

Have a good weekend, everyone.


12 Nov 2010, 21:50
Diego Zamboni (70 posts)

Hello, everyone,

  • What’s your page count so far?

markdown2pdf gives me 39 letter pages. In total I have written 13,534 words according to, and here are my stats for today:

  • What challenges did you face this week? How about successes?

My biggest challenge this week was time. I have acquired this week major new responsibilities at work (very exciting, by the way, but with a major learning curve), which has meant a dramatic decrease in my time flexibility and in my free time, both on- and off-business hours. What has kept me going is the challenge of being able to share my progress here, and the pressure put on by being on the 750words monthly challenge. Not letting go of those funny bird-shaped badges is a powerful incentive :)

My biggest success was finally moving (as of yesterday) into really detailed technical content in my book. This was very satisfying, but also challenging, in the sense of having to switch gears into paying attention to details, focusing on working code, and how to explain it to the reader. Travis’ advise above feel very useful, and I shall follow it.

  • How will you continue to keep up your momentum next week?

Since the workload on my day job is not likely to decrease (quite the contrary), I think I will have to switch to a stricter schedule of writing early in the morning, before the whirlwind of the day begins. I’ve cut it dangerously close to midnight a couple of times already (deadline imposed by 750words so that my entry is counted on that day), but I’m sure there will be some days when I will just not be able to stop on time.

Even with the increased pressure, I’m very satisfied with my progress, and I am very happy to be taking part in this challenge. I am sure something good will come out of all this.

I would like to thank all of you for providing such an encouraging environment. I have found everyone’s comments, insights, tips and tricks very helpful and motivating. I wish you all the best, and a good weekend! I managed to block some time this morning to write today’s entry, so I can take tonight off to go out with my wife :-)

Cheers, –Diego

12 Nov 2010, 23:35
Janine Ohmer (10 posts)

I’m at 3325 words and 21 pages; my page counts don’t count, though, because I have diagrams that inflate the total.

I spent the last week and a couple of days resolving an emergency in my day job, so I haven’t written for over a week. Today I did a bit of cleanup and restructuring, to get things in order for getting back on track for next week.

There isn’t any way I can avoid this sort of thing happening, all I can do is try to not let it derail me completely.



13 Nov 2010, 01:21
Bob Cochran (170 posts)

Gee, for the first time, I have checked the PragProWriMo forums first thing after getting home from my “Day of Adventure” instead of checking my email!

Raymond and Diego, I am wondering if having a small dictation machine with you will help you write your pages each day? The idea is: get a dictation machine. Talk your words into it during the day when you have a few minutes here and a few minutes there or when you get an inspired paragraph that you don’t want to forget. Then later on, at a time convenient to you, play back the dictation and add it to your pages. This can be a great technique for you.

Also don’t forget that you can time box. By now, it has become ingrained habit for me to write my book pages each night. But all this is easy for me to do, my children are grown and living elsewhere and my wife has her own activities. I think a lot of you folks have small children.

And oh, my day of adventure was spent in Shenandoah National Park. I hiked a few miles which was a great feat for an out-of-shape 52 year old. One of the trails brought me up this gut busting, sweat-popping uphill climb to a little overlook with an awesome view of the valley 3000 feet below. I wish I had brought my laptop with me and written my pages then and there, what a lovely place to write!


13 Nov 2010, 01:48
Scott Dunn (11 posts)

22 pages, 8644 words.

Challenges this week - full day client trip + evening commitment made Wednesday very tough. Will have a busier week next week, too. Also determining which sections to work on next (either logically, my personal passion, what trainees ask about the most) caused me to meander for a bit. I decided to go with passion.

Successes - sticking to morning ritual, and making up for it at night if I don’t.

Motivation going forward is that I’ve finally made it to the half way point in this, and conquering the beast of creating the content in the areas where I have concern + ideas but never written. Always scares me at first to pull something together in an area for the first time.

This has been a great experience - thanks all!

13 Nov 2010, 01:49
Susannah Davidson Pfalzer (114 posts)

Raymond - I hear you about the challenge of finding time. First thing in the morning sounds like it’s working for you; keep it up! An artist friend of mine gets up every day at 4:30 am to paint. It works for her but might be a bit too early for some . . .

Mike - Looking forward to finding out more about your novel! You’re keeping up a fantastic pace with the revisions.

Diego - So glad you’ve found encouragement and inspiration in this group! Great to hear about your progress. 750words is an excellent motivator. :-)

Janine - Life gets in the way sometimes; it’s okay, just keep on moving forward.

Bob - So glad to hear about your gorgeous day - Ulrich’s notepad idea would have been perfect there!

13 Nov 2010, 03:33
Bob Cochran (170 posts)

I did my pages for today! In fact I exceeded the minimum 2 pages and wrote 2.80 pages. Some ideas hit me and I don’t feel as tired as I thought I would.

Tomorrow, I am going on another adventure day. I am thinking of visiting the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I’m in the Washington, D.C. area.

This time I’m bringing my notebook (that is to say, my laptop) and some paper and some napkins with me like Ulrich does. He has a good suggestion there. Perhaps I can dine on a boat and get some pages done offshore!


13 Nov 2010, 05:14
Josh Carter (40 posts)

Finished up another topic, w00t!

I’m not sure about page count right now, it’s all mixed in with my prior book content. (Yes, I know I could dig it up with source control… it’s late and I’m lazy!)

Two big challenges for me this week: first, some nights by brain is just toast by the time I sit down to write. I’ll always get something out, but if I’m still going at a snail’s pace after 30 minutes, I decide it’s time for bed. Second challenge, I have one big, sprawling topic I’m trying to finish (see other forum post), and I get myself completely lost in there. I’ve had to switch to easier topics to keep my momentum up.

As for next week, just more of the same! I know I’ll be out a couple days (trade show) but otherwise I’ll keep cranking along. My only worry is running out of the easy topics.

You must be logged in to comment