Make, Show, Learn Issue 8

I’m writing directly in the WordPress editor again. Right now I have a few stray ideas in iA Writer along with a few stray drawings. I’m missing any sense of the bigger picture, though. So I’m trying to lay that out in WordPress.

In the past few weeks I’ve considered abandoning the weekly format.

I eventually want to write longer pieces that are about one topic. My approach was writing long posts made up of disparate topics. That’s what these posts have been. Then I’d slowly learn to weave things together until I really was writing about one topic each week. That doesn’t seem to be working.

Instead, it might be better to go the other way. Return to shorter posts focused on single topics. If I can’t get good at that then I won’t ever be good at writing a good section of a bigger piece.

Publishing every day earlier this year nearly burned me out. It reminds me of something I read in Judd Apatow’s Sick in the Head:

“This idea that your generation has about ‘you have to burn your material and start fresh every time’—it’s just so self-important. Not everybody’s watching everything you do, you know.” — Jerry Seinfeld to Amy Schumer to Judd Apatow

The difference between 75 posts and 100 posts isn’t actually much. Nobody is going to read everything. Even if they’re following closely, it’s the difference between writing 3 posts every 4 days and writing 4 posts every 4 days.

Nobody will be upset by the off day, especially if each post is of higher quality.

Even the difference between 50 and 100 isn’t much.

Here’s what I like about posting weekly:

  • I can handle once-a-week. Even if I’m busy during the week I know I’ll be able to pull something together and have a post ready on Sunday.
  • Nice mile markers. Even now, I enjoy going week by week and seeing how things are evolving. My drawing is improving. (My writing less so.) I have a good sense of how long a week is. It’s just nice to think in weeks.

Here’s what I don’t like about weekly posts:

  • I stopped creating book notes posts. Instead, potential book notes posts are sections in each of the weekly posts.
  • They’re too long. Even when actively trying to make them shorter, they just end up long. There are too many thoughts that the posts just come off a little scattered. Each post lacks focus. The long length also turns me off to editing at all.
  • I’m forgetting what’s in each post. When I had 4 issues, I knew what drawing was where. Now that I need two hands to count, I’m losing track of where that Gucci Mane drawing was.
  • It’s hard to share. It’s hard to do the ‘show’ part of Make, Show, Learn. Hard might be the wrong word. It’s still just a share button away. I’d love to be able to link directly to my thoughts on DHH and his appearance on the Tim Ferriss Show. I can do that with anchor tags to jump to the middle of the page, but it doesn’t feel quite right.

Here are some scattered ideas for what I can do moving forward:

  • Continue writing a weekly post. Blogging about blogging. If you’re not interested in that, you can skip it. The good thing is it gives me a dumping ground for any meta discussion. Without that, I tend to litter my other writing with those thoughts. The weekly post can be one giant footnote.
  • In the same weekly post, write about drawing. Weekly posts are nice mile markers. I can compile all the scraps and sketches and progress shots for any illustrations.
  • Write book notes posts each week. I already do the time-consuming part by reading the book. I even highlight a lot. It’s worth taking one extra step to really finish the book. I’ll go through the highlights, dedicate space to thinking about what I learned, and distill knowledge to share with others.
  • Write a podcast show note each week. I’m always listening to things, so I may as well share the good stuff.

I followed it a little bit this week.  I finished 3 book note posts for How to Write Funny. Focusing on one idea at a time was really nice. I don’t get so tempted to jump from section to section. And I can truly put the book away mentally.

I like it a lot for writing. Now I just need to get back to drawing.