I have a confession to make. It’s why I don’t publish enough, despite how much you all inspire me each day.
Confession: My writing standards are way too high.
I want to publish more…I always do. But I constantly start a post, trash it, start over…
I thought I already found my confidence 🙁
Plus, I love discussions that follow a new post. It’s a major reason I blog and a major reason I started this Community. So why not recreate this feeling again and again?
In this post I’d like to look at what makes bloggers self-critical to the point of insanity and discuss how this hurts our overall productivity.
As usual, your opinion will really help.
The questions I ask before hitting publish
As bloggers, our work is as good as we make it. We all have routines and rituals we practice from linking images to styling the first letters of our posts.
But in terms of the content, how do we know when it’s ready?
It’s hard to say. Anyone with a few bucks to spare can start a blog. Themes are cheap and advice is commonplace.
It’s the blood, sweat and tears that goes into our posts that really makes a blog. Even if our audience is small, pleasing them is just as important if not way more important than pleasing a large audience.
Here are a few things I always consider before hitting the blue button.
Warning: I can be obsessive.
Does it flow?
A great copywriter Demian Farnworth has written on what makes a post flow, what makes it vibe together. Without flow our points risk getting lost in a sea of text. And that’s a major problem.
So probably the biggest question I ask myself before hitting that blue button is does the entire post make sense? Does point A flow to point D, or is it like some bizarre game to telephone where no one knows where things began? If I find I’ve gone on too many tangents and lost my path, I’ll usually start over. This causes serious delays.
Is it complete?
Yet another grey line in blogging, completeness is always subject to debate. Leaving a post incomplete is actually something some bloggers advocate (crazy I know), because you then leave ideas for your readers to arrive to on their own. These ideas are usually discussed in the comments, creating a more complete post after the discussion, which is actually great.
But when I think complete, I think more in terms of effort. Did I give a post all the information I have at my disposal? Did I half-ass (the horror) one section? If that’s the case, it’s back to the editor for a good strong reworking. Oy vey.
Does it work for my target audience?
This blog is only about 6 months old at the time I write this, but it’s already got a very firmly defined target audience: up and coming bloggers. Yep, that’s you 🙂
My audience is smart, motivated, and curious. I can’t just pitch common words into space and wait for the virality to ensue. Instead, understanding if “it works for the target audience” is a massive combination of 1-1 discussion in the comments, Twitter chat, and Analytics mining. I want to know what people want, and what they want more of. I would only hope that each posts gets better and better, and if I can not just hope but know, then all the better.
Of course, this takes hard work. I doubt folks would like a random movie review, or summary of my weekend, though they are quite fun!
Is it something only I care about?
A weird question for sure here but a relevant one. At times, I’ll commence a post with the inspiration flowing through my blood like Capri Sun. Moments later after jotting down 300 words, I’ll realize…wait. This post is going nowwhere because it’s something only I have a passion for.
Self-judgementalism sucks, but I think having a bit of self-awareness is important to blogging. Knowing that what you like might not be what the masses want can help you actually find what folks want and in get a lot more traffic over time.
These are questions I ask in my often vain efforts to write a masterpiece. But even with a good analysis, sometimes the product doesn’t get out the door because of perfectionism.
Blog-fectionism: Why I don’t publish a lot
I’m not a perfectionist in most things. My life is actually usually a mess and my roommate always yells at me for leaving the hot sauce out and leaving it on him to take our the trash (it’s 85% his anyways).
But I am a perfectionist on the blog. I’ll often log in to see:
- A typo….
- An image is off center
- My coffee icons don’t look nice!
I’ll instantly need to fix the minor issue and this takes time. It takes away from crafting another post or two you could enjoy.
Then once I do began writing at last, the above questions can create so much self-judgement that the post ends up in the trash bin.
I guess I’m a blog-fectionist. Anyone else?
Anyone who’s dabbled in perfectionism knows it can prevent you from creating. You try to rid the page of mistakes and pretty soon there’s nothing left to show at all. It’s like the story of the kid who tried to shape the perfect heart for his Valentine. He keeps cutting around the corners thinking his heart is getting more beautiful, but pretty soon it shrinks so small it’s hard to tell it is a heart at all.
Given this, it’s important to find a balance. I know if I write when I’m relaxed and confident I’m more happy with the result, and more likely to publish. Maybe this works for you?
Without this balance it’s almost impossible to maintain productivity.
When are posts good enough to publish
When I was flown of to San Francisco on behalf of Adobe, I remember asking Adobe’s CDO (design officer) a question. The guy made logos for each product, like the logo for Illustrator.
“When do you consider a logo good enough to use?” I asked over a panel of bloggers.
These products go to millions of customers, massive corporations, and stakeholders who want things looking just right.
“Well. When I think it’s good enough,” he said, smiling.
“And there’s a whole checklist of things, too,” he added.
Clearly this guy had the authority to deem a project done with or complete. Afterall, someone has to have the final say.
In blogging, we can’t just create our best work every single day. If you can, please tell me your secret.
I know for myself, I write better at 1am than at 12 noon.
And, I write better on Fridays than on any other day of the week. How inconvenient! When I wrote my first post at ProBlogger, it only took me about 1 hr research, 1 hr writing, and 1 hr editing. I knew after those 3 hours that it was perfect.
How do you know when a post is perfect? On larger blog projects, when is it ready to get out the door and go live?
Things like weekly routine, external pressures, and environmental stress all control how we blog. Then there’s the internal things, like work style, drive, and determination. Equally valid.
Hear from you
I guess I’ll polish this off with a few questions because I’d really like to hear from the Community on this whole issue of self-critical-writing-isms. I feel like this will be one of those posts where the discussion outweighs the article.
- When are you least likely to be self-critical?
- When do you know a post is good enough?
- Perhaps most importantly…
- Why do you think some writers are able to produce more great content than the rest?
Let’s see, post a comment and tell us about your writing standards.