This is my 100th post on this blog. That isn’t a whole lot considering I have been writing on this site for nearly six years. I figured it still a good chance to think about lessons learned as I have tried to improve my writing over that time.
The Importance of Consistency
Maintaining this blog has taught me the importance of consistency. A number of my favorite bloggers write almost daily, and have done so for around ten years. Fred Wilson has been doing this since 2003 – pretty much every day. Seth Godin isn’t one of my favorites, but his consistency is just as real. He started in 2002, and for the past several years has been writing daily.
People have expectations. I expect to get something from Fred everyday. Not all of his posts will be interesting to me, but I expect to get something everyday. At some point, I would love to write daily. At this point, I would like people to expect to get something in their inbox from me every week.
Don’t Spend Too Much Time on Best Practices
That said, another thing I have learned is to not be too concerned with writing to a formula. I do try to keep paragraphs short (thanks for the tip, Trevor) and keep my logic intact, but I spend a lot less time trying to implement all the best practices for writing a good blog post.
At the same time, I have spent countless hours over the past several years reading a lot of material on those best practices, and I think some of them have become part of my process. For example, hopefully these lessons will be numbered when you read it.
Don’t Edit Too Much
Another lesson has been that too much editing can be stifling. I have a graveyard of blog posts that have not seen the light of day because I spent weeks thinking about them and making changes. And then, I forgot about them. This year, I have worked on writing what comes to mind in around an hour, inserting links where relevant, pressing publish, and making any edits to typos if someone points one out.
My favorite teacher in high school, Mr. Barnhardt, encouraged his English students to draft papers and let them sit a bit before editing them. I do make sure to do that with articles that are to be published to other sites, but this is a nice platform to just exercise my mind. My sophomore year in college, I scratched every jump in the indoor track season because I edited my technique too much. The editing came from fear of not jumping well. I shed that fear and the editing the next year and set the school record.
I harbored fear of looking incompetent for much of the time I have spent writing these posts, resulting in a lot of editing early on, and a lot of long gaps in writing. I have shed some of that, and it feels good to just write.
Read a Lot
The helpfulness of reading a lot is another lesson. Over the years, I have gained a better understanding of what I would like my voice to be the more I read – slightly sarcastic at times and conversational, but not talkative. I think that represents my voice in real life.
Before starting this post, I took a look at my first post. I mention developing my own running form by studying others. The biggest thing about my running form now is not really what it looks like, it is my awareness of how my body is working. I learned that by studying other runners. In a somewhat similar fashion, reading what others write has helped sharpen my awareness of my own writing and thinking.
I think this is a good stopping point. Four lessons from 100 blog posts: the importance of consistency, not spending too much time writing to a formula, not editing too much, and reading what others write.