On finishing blog posts
25. May 2021 ‐ 3 min read
As of today, the 25th of May 2021, I have published 13 blog posts (assuming you include this one). Another post I published about 2 years ago got lost in the abyss of the internet when I switched from Ghost, a blogging software, to my current Jekyll setup. Finally, I’ve written a text on bug reporting in open source software that doesn’t seem to be reachable either anymore; whether or not that counts is up for debate.
But regardless what blog posts you include or exclude, a big part of my writing is missing in this enumeration. The majority of posts I compose never get released online. They linger locally, sometimes for days, weeks or months, until I open them up again, only to find that their quality is not sufficient. Whenever that happens, I purge the file and I’ve never restored one from the trash yet. That also has its reasons. Let me explain.
In general, I’d say I am not too bad at writing, both in English and German. I might not be the next Goethe or Shakespeare, but I can express myself and my ideas reasonably well, and that without doing too many grammar mistakes in the process. Given that blogging in general does neither demand long texts, nor does it impose artificial limitations (like in school essays) onto you, I should be able to transfer my overall writing skills to blogging without much hassle. Sadly, the emphasis here lies on should.
If I draft, quickly rewrite and publish a post in a single session, I don’t encounter any problems. Problematically enough, many topics cannot be fully completed in one pass. And here is where it gets complicated. Whenever I reopen one of my started-but-not-finished posts, my perfectionism kicks in and tells me just how abysmal the quality of my writing was, or rather is. (To be fair, it really isn’t as great as it could be.) Adding on top that I then start to see what would help lift the post to the next level, be it images / code examples / interactive content, makes me feel as if it would be a heap of work I’d have to complete before even thinking about publishing such a text. Not being able to cope with these demands I’d set myself, I then throw away my work and start anew, hoping to complete my current idea quickly as to avoid a viscious circle.
This not only leads to a lower overall quality of my blog (as it turns out, redacting texts definitely would help improve the level), but also results in many topics that I started, but never concluded: from temperature phenomenons, political manifestos, and the mean value theorem to certain web performance optimizations and tiny details about my
nginx setup, I’ve written and deleted a lot of prose.
And by now, I am stuck. I must resist the urge to delete and instead improve; I have to persist through the more boring parts of blogging if I aspire to publish good content. We’ll see how that works out - I’m not overly optimistic yet. For sure I am planning to blog more again (probably about Analysis and probabilistic algorithms) once my study phase starts and I have more flexibility in my daily schedule. Until then.