I’ve started writing more frequently. I want to do this because I often have thoughts which I’d like to explore and develop further but rarely do. Writing forces me to organise my thoughts and look at how substantial they really are, or aren’t.
There is truth in the saying that “to know a thing you need to be able to teach it” 1 , and writing well has several similarities to teaching. Can I really copy a collection of thoughts from my head to yours?
I don’t expect writing regularly to become a permanent habit - it doesn’t need to be. But I do want to focus on it for awhile so that I become significantly better. It’s a skill that has too many benefits to be ignored.
The blogs I remember most are focussed and unapologetic about their priorities. Most of them have a lot of text and do not focus on design. They make it easy to read content and don’t spend time or attention on header images or styling.
Before I redesigned this blog I had default settings that asked me to supply an image for each post, and for a summary, and a suggested tweet. None of it was necessary and whilst they all tried to make the blog better they ended up making it harder to write. These peripheral features added complexity and distracted from the main thing.
They’re are still there if I want to use them but they are not set up to be used by default anymore. They’ve been moved to the background and if I forget they exist then that’s OK - it just shows they weren’t as important in practice as I thought they would be. I was probably just having fun adding new features and working out how to build them.
You Ain’t Gonna Need It, mate.
- Wikipedia article, and some external validation. ↩
- A complimentary notion is that asking the right question is more important than finding the right answer. I guess asking the right question is always necessary, but finding the right answer is only sometimes sufficient. Sometimes you can get the answer a bit wrong if you asked the right question, and still get enough benefits to avoid the problem. ↩