Thursday, June 6, 2013

After Repeated Errors, A Minor Musing Comes

I'm sure Emily Dickinson is spinning in her grave

I hate making mistakes. I especially hate repeating mistakes. I should, therefore, take a little time to examine what the heck I'm doing when I make and repeat the same blogging error.


A few years ago, I did a little navel gazing and wrote a post titled "What I'm Doing Wrong." I remembered that the conclusion was an Alan Jacobs tweet: "Sometimes I write blog posts not because I have anything original or even distinctive to say, but just to find out what I think." I still believe that sentiment to be true. I still try to practice it.


Until I re-read the post, I didn't remember I had opined that I have lousy keyboard skills, frequently don't proofread carefully, and don't have a consistent writing style. I believe I've admitted those failings elsewhere. I'll have to add that I may not always read posts or follow links as carefully as I should.

I had published fewer than 150 posts in August 2010. I've published over 1500 now. so I'll try to summarize a few principles my mistakes indicate I should practice.

First, John Wooden was correct: Be quick but don't hurry. Nearly every factual error I've made has occurred because I've been in a hurry to hit publish. The only deadline I have is self-imposed, so there's no need to hurry.

Second, exploration is better than confirmation. In other words, write blog posts "just to find out what I think." The posts I like best have been the ones that let me think out loud. As an aside, it seems every blogger who has ever written a post about the act of blogging has said he or she doesn't know which posts readers will generate reader responses. I know I'm surprised at the responses some posts generate.

Third, don't publish a post just to publish a post. I had stopped regular blogging during debate season. When I restarted, I was determined to use this Seinfeld productivity tip: "Don't break the chain." Once one has started a daily habit, one should view daily completion of the task as chain of red Xs on a calendar. One should try to avoid breaking the chain. I don't have a blogging calendar, but I do have the dashboard that lists the dates posts are published. I have tried hard to keep a two posts per day chain going. In retrospect, I probably should have been more concerned about being thorough than breaking the chain.

Fourth, blogging always takes more time than I think it will. That fact makes Wooden's maxim even more necessary.

Fifth, there some things I will never figure out. In the 2010 post, I mused about lack of niche. I'm still not sure I have one. I opine about politics, philosophy, education, pop culture, and whatever strikes my fancy at the moment. I'm not sure I'll change that part of this blog.

Finally, walk away at least once before hitting publish. Most of the grammar and mechanical errors on this blog were published because I didn't walk away for 5 minutes before reading the post for a final time.

Herein endth this moment of introspection.

1 comment:

Ken Santema said...

After reading this:
"Fifth, there some things I will never figure out. In the 2010 post, I mused about lack of niche. I'm still not sure I have one. I opine about politics, philosophy, education, pop culture, and whatever strikes my fancy at the moment. I'm not sure I'll change that part of this blog."

I don't think you should change anything about this part of the blog. Blogs tend to get a "personality". A change in focus to a particular niche would change the personality of this blog (even though no matter what it is you blogging). Just my two cents.