Last week I made a first attempt to write longer posts. I started writing a post on Monday and my plan was to come back to it on Tuesday and continue working on it until it’s ready to be published. The result of my experiment was that I didn’t write at all for a week.
On Monday I wrote more words than usual, but what I wrote was more of a collection of random thoughts about a subject rather than an essay. It had no structure and I wasn’t making any point. Then on Tuesday, I really didn’t feel like getting into reading that blob of text. Editing it would take much longer than the daily time I allocate for writing. Also I had a few unrelated urgent things I had to take care of, so the result was that I didn’t write at all.
I have a tendency to write long blocks of text without making any point. I also don’t have a patience to read and edit it later, which makes this method of writing a waste of time because I don’t produce anything useful.
I will make another attempt to come back to an existing draft and improve it over a span of a few days, but hopefully this time with more discipline to keep whatever I write organized and written in a way that makes sense without requiring additional editing time.
As I was writing this I realized I had a similar problem with writing code. One day I would sit down and write code but leave it half way and unfinished, and the next day I would come back and have no idea what I was trying to do. It made me not want to touch any of the code at all because I knew that before I’ll start being productive again I will have to dig in and try to figure out what is going on.
My solution was to never leave the project in a “half way” state. I learned to work in small iterations and commit every change that I make. I assume that between the time I’m writing new code and the time in a few days later, I will not remember what I was doing. I would like to apply the same to my writing.
Leaving a Clean Working Environment
When I’m thinking about going back to work on a draft that I have and write more, the first thing that comes to mind is how easy or hard it will be. If I know that I will be able to quickly understand what is the point I was making in the essay and will be able to start writing more right away and be productive, I will want to sit down and write. On the other hand, if it will take me a long time to get into a messy draft and understand what I was talking about and then I’ll have to edit it and probably rewrite most of it before I even start writing new stuff, I will most likely skip writing all together and go do something else.
Therefore developing the ability to write in small iterations is important for acquiring the habit of writing daily and staying consistent with it.