Why repetition is king and I will just continue writing poorly
Recently I find myself reading Cory Zue's blog repeatedly because he had such a great success with his Place card maker site. Hence, I'm re-reading a lot of his posts. The other day I read one of his oldest posts about the art of working alone. There, he quoted of one Seth Godin's 2012 blog posts about "Talker's block". Here are two paragraphs that stood out to me:
Just write poorly. Continue to write poorly, in public, until you can write better.
We talk poorly and then, eventually (or sometimes), we talk smart. We get better at talking precisely because we talk. We see what works and what doesn’t, and if we’re insightful, do more of what works. How can one get talker’s block after all this practice?
They really resonated with me. Looking back at my posts about my idea for a better search engine than google, or about making sticky footer with css, or my instagram web extension I can only cringe today. But, I also can be proud that writing now comes easier than a year ago. Nonetheless, I often hesitate writing an article even though it could be good practice and someone might actually find it entertaining.
Last month, I neglected my writing. This was a mistake. Looking at my Medium stats people seem to still read my articles which gives me some hope.
Even though only one of my articles has ever taken off, I still find that writing is one of the most rewarding activities that I have ever encountered. In school I hated it like poison. Today it's a different story. I can't explain it better than by linking that gif below. I get all giddy. Like a child, receiving its christmas presents only that I am the one giving, in a sense. Because, if I get excited about something, there could be a chance that someone else could find it as exciting. However, mostly I am wrong.
But in the case I am right, the problem is that I can't transfer that excitement via words. I have the same problem while talking. Like, I would get excited about something but sharing that excitement with someone else is difficult for me. For my post about writing a better search engine I got early feedback from a chat group that I am in. There I got the following feedback:
Overall I felt like the article jumped around a lot, from front end frameworks, to popular languages, open source tools, and other ramblings. And then the ending was … confusing. I expected you to be driven to create/start on a solution, but you basically said “OK, now somebody else go try.”So the article seemed kind of useless to me, because it essentially went nowhere.I also didn’t leave with a clear understanding as to why your proposed search engine would be better for me, or what it’s “selling point” is aside from maybe being written in Rust (and even then, why should I care about that as a user?)You said a lot of things, but I left not knowing exactly what was said.
Looking at it now, it wouldn't say that it was useless because I had so much fun writing it. Seriously! Last week, there was the "Long nights of museums" in Vienna. There I had the opportunity to view a huge spectrum of Claude Monet's artworks. I didn't like it very much. But, if I recall correctly from the exhibit, Monet wasn't famous from day one. On the contrary, he had substantial financial difficulties:
Unfortunately, the couple lived in depressing poverty. Right up to her death she sat for him regularly, appearing frequently as a female figure in a rural landscape. Some of these canvases are among Monet's finest masterpieces.
In truth, Monet was hardly able to support himself. He was now six months behind with the rent and relying more and more on his friend, the artist Gustave Caillebotte, to lend him money.
Meaning, his work was hated. Contrarian to the existing norm. Otherwise people would have payed him money. And he would have been able to pay his rent. Today, his paintings change hands for a whopping $81.4 million. But you have to give him respect that he pursued his artistic career even though his endeavors didn't bear fruits for a long time. In my opinion, Monet must have really enjoyed painting otherwise no sane people would have been able to continue.
So, I'll simply follow Seth's advice:
Write like you talk. Often.
Some day, I'll be able to share my thoughts in a way that let's me share my thoughts with ease. Until then, I'll continue writing poorly and let my thoughts jump around. Update 2021: If you are also trying to improve your writing, you may like Michael Lynch blog.