Pretend you’re starting a blog. Which of the following methods is more likely to gain significant readership:
- Spend a year writing one perfect article.
- Write a series of 52 articles, one each week.
Ok, it’s a trick question. I haven’t actually tested it. Anecdotal stories online would suggest that one can attain quality through quantity (aka practice), but that’s not what I’m here to write about.
I’m here to complain about the perfect part.
You see, I have a problem publishing my blog posts. I know my writing is far from perfect, and at times despite my best intentions I even get facts or code wrong too. My ideas are just “things I made up” in this crazy head of mine.
I’ve had my “next post” written since the very day it was due and haven’t been able to convince myself that it is good enough to publish. I have similar thoughts about all my posts, and this one is no exception.
You see, I’m terribly afraid that people will think my writing is bad. More than that, I’m afraid they’ll be right. Yet, is that any reason to not write?
All my life I’ve had different opinions than most of my peers and my teachers about what constitutes “good” when it comes to art. Since I didn’t really understand art in the same way I could understand physics or computers, I just assumed that I must be wrong.
An interesting thing happened then. I stopped taking art courses because they were “hard”. I even stopped practicing any sort of art. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ve heard about this happening to other kids, but usually in the math/science classes instead of art.
In elementary school my books were filled with doodles. Now I’m ashamed if I have to draw anything.
A few years ago during university I wrote a number of articles for high profile websites, mostly reviews of Linux distributions or other free software. It started out as an idea for a way to get my name “out there” and turned into a fairly well paying job. The problem is that when I look back now I see a different person writing those articles.
Could those opinions really all have been mine? Could I really have been so arrogant in my responses to commenters? It would seem so. Now that writing is memorialized until the end of days. It represents me in many ways. When you search for me online now you still find them, a decade after they were written.
Suddenly I find myself hesitant to post my writing in the open. It, too, becomes an everlasting part of me. I look to my words and wonder if they will age gracefully.
What will I think of my writing, now, in another decade? Will I be happy I wrote this blog post, or will I feel embarrassed for my former naiveté? Will I have conquered my fear that others might judge my writing poorly, or will this post only add to the anxiety?
I don’t know the answers, but I do know that I’d rather be the guy who tries than the guy who lets his fear hold him back. That’s why I’m posting this. Not for the readers this time, but for myself.
Nevertheless, I hope someone, somewhere enjoys this post and perhaps finds their own will to push forward. It shall be my constant reminder to step into the unknown, make mistakes, and learn from them.