…and then I started writing again…

About four years ago, when I started my company (Centeris, back then; Likewise Software now), I started a blog describing our early challenges. I maintained it faithfully for about six months, recounting the saga of getting funded, hiring people, getting an office, firing people, etc. Right about then, I started reading about the legal ramifications of blogging and how postings by corporate officers were getting people into trouble. Although I figured the odds of getting into trouble were low, I had enough things to keep me busy and I decided to take the blog offline.

Frankly, it was a relief. Although I enjoy writing and sometimes have trouble stopping once I start, writing on a regular basis can be quite a chore. It may be hard to believe that someone who works 11-12 hours a day can be lazy, but it’s true. If I wasn’t lazy and I didn’t have to sleep or eat or tend to my family, I’d work 24 hours a day. Life at a startup is such that, every day, you work twice as hard as you have ever worked, you accomplish twice as much as you do at a big company, but you end the day further behind on your TO DO list than you started.

I hate to see untended blog sites. There’s nothing worse than seeing a site (usually a corporate one) with a “Hello, here’s my first blog” entry that’s 2 years old. If you’re going to blog, you have to commit to doing it regularly. “Regularity” implies self discipline (well, it also implies a well-functioning digestive/execretory system, but let’s not go there.)

I have figured out self-discipline. Here’s the trick: do things while you’re still not fully conscious.

I figured this out in the context of getting regular exercise. I just could not get myself to the gym on a regular basis. I’d put on the “Freshman Fifteen” (or maybe 30) when I’d started my company. I was so busy, however, that it was easy to rationalize why I couldn’t take a break to go exercise or why I was so tired that I couldn’t get to the gym on the weekends. The trick that worked for me was to start running at 5:30 in the morning (yes, A.M.).

If you wake up at 5:15 A.M. your brain does not function properly. You’ve probably just finished your R.E.M. sleep stage and you’re still trying to figure out what Cindy Crawford was doing in Bellevue, let alone, doing it with you. You stumble out of bed, put your running clothes on and head out the door. 40 minutes later, you take a shower, get some breakfast and head into work without realizing what happened.

Do this about 20 or 30 times and it embeds itself in your reptilian brain. After that, you might find yourself exercising at 2pm in the afternoon. The trick is to ingrain the habit while your reasoning functions are still in a vulnerable state. Once the salivary glands start drooling at the the sound of a bell, your work is done.

And so with writing. I’m going to try to write early in the morning and see how that goes. My topics will inevitably include work-related things. My company provides products that allow non-Windows computers (Unix, Linux, Mac) to work with Microsoft Active Directory. Right now, this is a hot topic. A lot of our business is driven by security problems, PCI/SOX audit compliance and by the high costs of administering computers without centralized account management. Writing about work all the time is boring, however, so expect an occasional reference to funny stuff (Chuck Norris Facts, for example, or “The Flying Conchords”) or to other things that I’m interested in (photography, golf, running, books, etc.).

We’ll see if the 5:30am trick works again. If you start seeing too many references to Cindy Crawford, however, please pinch me…