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A Year of Monthly Blogging: What Have I Learned?

May 28, 2013 Comments off

It was last May that I decided to start blogging on a more-or-less regular basis, and wrote up a post with some modest goals. Now it’s may again, which seems like as good a time as any to take a look back at the last year of blog posts. Even before I started working on this post, I noticed some patterns emerging.

One thing I noticed is that I have a tendency of taking a topic and milking it for multiple posts. Probably the most egregious example was Windows 8, but I did the same thing with Google and one or two others. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but since I only post once a month, it means that I can end up spending a big chunk of the year focused on one thing.

Something else I find myself doing, which I’d promised myself I wouldn’t do, is let posts turn into overly long and detailed affairs that I insist on getting perfectly polished before letting them go. Being so much of a perfectionist that I can’t just let things be done is a bad habit of mine. Going on and on because I can’t bear to cut things is another; even when I’m not rambling, my writing still often has way too much going on. I think my posts over the last year have done a better job of dealing with these problems than writing I’ve done in the past, but I still have a long way to go. These bad habits correspond to two of my four stated goals from last May, but I haven’t really fixed them yet.

By the way, I count these two habits as one issue (roughly) because of they way the combine. I can’t kill my darlings, but instead insist on letting them pile up, and then I insist on making them all perfect, which causes me to think of yet more ideas I want to include, and of course those have to be perfect, too… It’s a vicious cycle.

Which brings me to yet another bad habit: Lateness. When I first started, I didn’t have much difficulty cranking out a post in one or two sittings, then maybe making another pass later to take care of rough edges. Now, though, I end up taking so long—both because of the above habits and because of simple procrastination—that the posts are always done much later than I’d intended to finish them. The last post was the worst: It went up less than an hour before midnight on the last day of the month; I almost failed in my goal to publish a post per month (unless you count the April Fools thing, but that was written ages ago and put on a timer). I really need to work on being more timely.

I am pleased, however, that despite my procrastination, I did not fail to make at least one post per month. I tend to work better when I have a deadline, because that way I can’t keep polishing things up forever. I still need to work on this, but I’ve definitely done better this year than previous years.

I also think I’m doing okay with my post titles. I normally have a hard time naming things, which is why my blog just has my own name at the top of it, but the decision to avoid catchy or clever post titles in favor of clear and informative ones seems to be working for me.

Going back over that post from last year, I noticed one last issue: My intention was to follow Jeff Atwood’s approach by making each post just a bit better than the last one. However, I haven’t really been making a conscious effort to improve my writing. Sure, I’ve tried to make each post good, but I haven’t focused on improvement.
So what now? I don’t have a solid plan yet, but I do have some ideas:

  • Start planning ahead. This should help with both the length and the lateness.
  • Be willing to prune posts to keep them brief and on-point; don’t get caught up in tangents.
  • Set intermediate deadlines to counteract procrastination.
  • Set a goal for each post. Try improve on something that was lacking in previous posts.
  • If recycling topics continues to be a problem, try to have something new to post in addition to the follow-up.

Wish me luck.

Categories: Blogging