This week, 25 weeks and 24 posts in (stupid forgetting what day it is), is the mid point of the weekly writing challenge between +Jonathan Lange and myself. To mark the occasion this week's post has been reserved for reflection on the Alphabet Supremacy so far.
Much as I like the idea of exercising, I like the idea of doing enough writing that I don't forget how to do it. Also much like exercising, my intentions to write typically bear no relation to the output. Ignoring lack of inspiration, I've had two main problems writing more posts on my blog in the past (assuming one believes few posts by me is a problem). The first is finishing posts and the second is publishing them.
My normal process for creating a blog post goes something like this: think of topic to write about, write initial draft, feel need to cover every argument and edge case a reader might think of, end up with way too much rambling text, realise that the core point is quite simple, tweet original premise, delete draft. The result is therefore a whole lot of posts that never get finished, or get finished as tweets.
In those rare cases I don't end up just tweeting my thoughts, the piece lies in draft limbo indefinitely because I worry about people's opinion. Not so much opinion on quality of writing but opinion on the quality of deciding to write about the topic. That's somewhat counter to how a lot of people blog but I know most of the people who read my blog posts and as such I feel like I shouldn't waste their time with things that aren't at least entertaining.
The Alphabet Supremacy has meant that I've published a lot more posts, and been able to ignore the usual "but who's going to enjoy it?" question that normally stops me hitting publish. Even if there's nothing riding on the quality of the posts, I'm happy to be getting in the habit of writing and publishing posts. I had hoped that writing the regular posts would have the side effect of me writing more off the cuff posts once I was in the flow of writing. That hasn't happened, which is further proof that I do almost nothing without some sort of push to do so. There's still six months to go, though, so maybe that will improve.
The downside of having a public reason to write more posts is that because I know most of the people reading know that I had to publish the post, I haven't given a lot of the posts even a cursory level of polish. To generalise, the amount of effort I've put into each post has decreased over time. In terms of keeping in practice with writing, churning out words without trying to make them good is only marginally better than not writing anything at all.
I think if I was to engage in another weekly writing challenge with Jonathan (or anybody else) I'd choose something a bit more structured. Sometimes a Sunday evening and a single word can be a bit hard to get to grips with, and is a contributing factor to some of my poorer posts. Each post being a response to the previous week or similar provides an easier point of entry to write something, and also gives readers a frame of reference when they start to read posts. Some way of encouraging posts that are actually good beyond simple self respect would also be good. I would however keep the financial element because I am currently running at a profit so it is clearly an excellent idea.
Here's what the tweet summary version of this post would have looked like:
"Because I need to write a post I don't agonise over quality but because I know people know I need to write a post I don't care about quality"