Everything I write is just a first draft

#25. Writing is a record of your current thoughts, free to evolve with time

“Great, I’ve finished. I’m really satisfied with that article — can’t wait to publish it.”

How often do you feel this way? It may not be very often, but don’t worry — I argue that it doesn’t need to be.

Often as I finish an article, I have a feeling that it is incomplete. Perhaps certain parts are unclear. Perhaps I haven’t used enough examples to demonstrate my point. I am happy to go back and edit things but multiple edits and read-throughs don’t guarantee 100% satisfaction.

This can be frustrating as I crave closure with what I write. I want to feel that I’ve fully captured the essence of the topic I am writing about.

However, waiting until you reach this point of closure can prevent you from ever publishing the post. I’ve had a number of posts that I’ve sat on for periods of 6 months or more because the first draft felt only 90% ready.

“I’ll just do a quick re-edit tomorrow, then publish it”, I told myself.

Now when I get to this point, I will just post it anyway. Seth Godin has convinced me that it’s always better to ship.

I find it useful to reflect on the transitory nature of blog posts. My instinctive feeling is that a blog post, once shared, must reflect my final authoritative opinion on a subject. But this need not be the case.

There’s no reason why I can’t go back and edit what I’ve written. Sure, the initial audience will see the first version but that’s not a big problem. Kanye West continued to modify Life of Pablo months after its release, reflecting the fact that art is fluid.

Therefore, I think about my blog posts more as first drafts. I’m building up a record of my thoughts. It is not a complete record, rather an approximation. As my subconscious mulls over the ideas I have written about, I will continue to add to/modify/delete old posts as I see fit. Over time the body of work will become a closer approximation of what I want to say.

This is why I don’t currently publicise my posts. I really stand by the content of some of my blog posts, but others have poor clarity or are incomplete. I will start sharing widely when I feel the quality of my work is in-line with what I want to convey.

Practically speaking, at the end of my 30 day writing challenge I will review the posts I have written; I will choose the best ones to re-write or expand on and others will be archived.