After a month of “blog every day no matter what” I can say: this is hard.
But, I have enjoyed this commitment, so I’m going to do another month.
Since I’ve allowed myself to post quotations, I’ve felt a pull to do a lot of these, since they are much easier than original writing 1.
For one thing, I find it easier to “see” where the bar is for posting a quote, than for posting original writing.
With quotes: if a passage makes me sit up straight, and I want to return it several times in the future—it’s a contender. The intended audience is clear: future me! The purpose: bring these pearls back to my attention.
With writing: my purpose is much less clear. The word “blog” is a misnomer: this is largely a study journal, made semi-public in the spirit of “garage door up” (or maybe: “see inside the sausage factory”). For the most part, “future me” is the only person who should read these posts, and even he probably shouldn’t read many of them.
If and when I write things I actually want more than 3 people to read, I will post them elsewhere. I will make this clearer on the blog header, somehow. Ceveat lector.
I also face the issue that I’m trying to write about things I’m learning about, and quite often, 1-2 hours is not enough to go from a topic I don’t understand to a post on the topic that I’m reasonably confident isn’t badly confused.
For example: today I drafted a post on the dipositional account of belief, which Cheryl Misak finds at the heart of pragmatism. Doing so raised questions that showed I didn’t understand it to my satisfaction. That realisation, plus the publication deadline, was mildly stressful. What to do? Flag the uncertainties and publish anyway? Or publish later, but then… what do I publish today?
In setting up this experiment, I made what is probably a rookie error: I planned to go from “blank page” to “published” in a single 1-2 hour work session, or at least within the space of a day. I can do this, but my drafts get way better if I have a chance to “return fresh” and do a good round of editing. I also like crafting prose, but I rarely make the time to do it—I’d like to have more of that in my days.
So, starting today, I’m going to switch to a “draft today, edit and post tomorrow” pattern.
I will also aim to build up a backlog of drafts, so that on days where I show up to morning writing, but am unusually slow, I do not end up immediately in trouble. The daily commitment to “show up” will be hard and consistent, the outputs will vary a bunch.
I will also experiment with posting different kinds of original writing, in different formats, and different lengths. Book reviews, interview summaries, posts-that-could-be-tweets. This could get pretty messy. But whatever. People shouldn’t be reading this anyway.
In the back of my mind: what level of urgency is desirable? I think stress and challenge and stretch is valuable. Training should not be a walk in the park. But I worry about the thought-narrowing effects of urgency and stress. And… I want this to be a commitment I love (although presumably it’s fine to hate it sometimes, and in those moments, the thing to do is show up anyway).
Structuring commitments are powerful. But pitching them “just right” is a delicate matter. I am in the very early days of this. This second month is about experimentation and refinement.